Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, May 31, 2018

With Rebecca Williams as a Freeholder, the ball is now in Chairman Mapp's court

UCDC Chair Nick Scuatari and Freeholder-elect
Rebecca Williams at Thursday's special convention.

Upwards of 500 Union County Democratic Committee members met in a special convention tonight (May 31) at Union County College to select a person to fill the vacancy created by Freeholder Linda Carter's move to the Assembly.

By unanimous voice vote they selected Plainfield's Rebecca Williams. Congratulations to our Rebecca on this milestone in her career of public service.

Now that Rebecca Williams has been selected to fill the Union County Freeholder seat, the next item of business is for Plainfield Democrats to fill the vacancy that Williams' departure for the Freeholder board creates.

Plainfield Democratic chair Mayor Adrian O. Mapp finds himself with several challenges as the city committee approaches filling Williams' citywide at-large seat.

First, there is the matter of a viable candidate, as any replacement will have to run again in the November general election; the winner of that contest will fill the balance of Williams' unexpired term to December 31, 2020.

With potential opposition candidates such as former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs and former Councilor Rev. Tracey Brown waiting in the wings, a lot hinges on the PDCC offering at least one compelling candidate to the City Council. (The PDCC is required by law to offer three names to the Council, which makes the final decision on who will fill the vacant seat.)


The first thing to note is there is no bench. Once the chairman pulled the plug on the New Democrats political club after he became PDCC chair, the party failed to develop further potential candidates with a citywide appeal and track record such as Williams nursed over nearly twenty years.

Among the current crop of Council members, only Joylette Mills-Ransome can be considered to approach Williams' experience and high regard. Unfortunately she is in the home stretch of a campaign to secure the Wards 2/3 at-large seat in her own right. So scratch that thought.

Council President Charles McRae is a relative newcomer and had to run twice to eventually win his seat representing Ward 3, achieving victory only when former councilor Gloria Taylor decided not to run. Representing just a single ward means he does not bring the citywide record and following that Rebecca earned as both a Councilor and as a community activist.

Councilor Cory Storch, currently the longest serving member (he will rack up 16 years with the completion of this -- his fourth -- term) is another possibility who only represents a single ward. Though he is well known in his own ward and certainly has always been mindful of the larger community, one has to wonder how well a white candidate would play in a city that is now mostly Black and Hispanic.

Steve Hockaday, who represents Ward 4 and is the Council's freshman member, is a protégé of the late Assemblyman Jerry Green and won his seat in a squeaker. Once again there is the lack of citywide campaign experience and a record on the Council, which are drawbacks at this time.

That leaves Barry Goode, Councilor for Wards 1/4. A tough and persistent door-knocking, street-walking campaigner, he is well-liked and has some citywide visibility. I think he is a good possibility for the nod. But then the problem would be filling his vacancy and the Chairman's grip on the First and Fourth Wards has never been beyond dispute.

Finally, there is the possibility that Chairman Mapp may favor a sitting PDCC member or even a complete novice.

(I am leaving Diane Toliver, the current Ward 1 incumbent, out of the discussion because I simply don't think she has any viability.)


The chairman will also have to take into account the state of the local Democratic party, which has been in turmoil since the fractious campaign earlier this year to elect Sen. Nick Scutari to replace the late Jerry Green as chairman of the Union County Democratic Party.

That fight and its fallout as well as the resignation of the Mayor's former Chief of Staff John Stewart (who is also a PDCC committee member and officer) has left the PDCC struggling financially, costing it upwards of $30,000 in reliable annual contributions to the PDCC and various campaigns.

The Second Ward, which has always been Mapp's most reliable base, is in near revolt and several committee members have been boycotting PDCC meetings and the current primary campaign.

This has had the unfortunate effect of making Mills-Ransome's campaign more of a slog than it should have been.

Then there is the First Ward, where newcomer Ashley Davis officially has the party line against incumbent Diane Toliver who did not seek the party line but instead opted to run off the line.

Davis won the PDCC nomination in a fair and open process that was at every step under the control of Chairman Mapp.

Following the explicit instructions of the chair, she (and Mills-Ransome) set up separate campaigns and conducted separate fundraising efforts (which was not the custom in the days of the New Democrats).

Davis has done quite well and has been able to mount a full-fledged campaign with yard signs, two mailers, robocalls set for this weekend, and handout literature for when she walks the ward.

Learning that PDCC officer Carmencita Pile posted Toliver's campaign video in support of Toliver's candidacy to an alias Facebook account she maintains (as well as to another heavily trafficked Plainfield Facebook page) is causing a sensation throughout the First Ward.

Though Pile subsequently removed the posts, they will always be available on the Internet Wayback Machine for those care to see them.

As if this weren't enough of a concern, Mayor Mapp's email newsletter this past Friday (May 25) gave a laudatory profile of Councilor Toliver top billing -- right after the Mayor's piece and BEFORE his congratulations to our new Assemblywoman Linda Carter.

To say eyebrows were raised would be to put it mildly.

Once again, Congratulations to our new Union County Freeholder Rebecca Williams.

The ball is now in Chairman Mapp's court.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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