Sunday, February 26, 2006

Green To Party: Hands Off School Board Election

Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Green does not want to put a party stamp on the 2006 school board election, he said Friday.

“I’m asking the committee as a whole not to get involved in the school board election,” he told city representatives of the party.

Green said he wanted to “stay away from all of them” so the party can support whoever wins.

“The party will not get involved,” he said. Nevertheless Green indicated there could be some leeway for members, acting as individuals, who may want to support BOE candidates.

School board candidates must file petitions by 4 p.m. Monday (Feb. 27, 2006) at the business office of the Plainfield Board of Education, 504 Madison Ave. Those who qualify will be eligible to run in the April 18 school board election. Three three-year seats are open.

Green’s position is a change from recent years, when both he and former Mayor Albert T. McWilliams openly backed slates. In 2005, candidates supported by McWilliams won, but McWilliams lost both the mayoralty and the party chairmanship in June. Filings tomorrow may show whether the rivalry between members of the Regular Democratic Organization and McWilliams’ New Democrats will dominate the election.
The Democratic organization agreed Friday to let Green select candidates for City Council seats. Those candidates must file by April 10 for the June 6 primary.

Green said new “pay-to-play” rules will complicate the November election. The state has a set of rules and some municipalities have also passed “pay-to-play” rules limiting contributions by venders doing business with governmental bodies. Green said the situation is very complicated and he has hired both a professional accountant and fundraiser to guide the party.

“Even ELEC hasn’t figured it out,“ he said, referring to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Green said he will bring someone to the committee’s next meeting to explain “pay-to-play” rules. He said while some people think the so-called reforms are good, “This is actually designed to hurt the Democratic Party.”

The meeting ended with remarks from City Council members, including Council President Ray Blanco, former president Linda Carter and members Rayland Van Blake, Rashid Burney and Don Davis.

After Blanco remarked that the council’s new-found solidarity was based on “resolving issues behind closed doors,” former Freeholder Lewis Mingo advised him, “You can’t talk about the back room.”

The Democratic Committee will meet again in one month, at which time Green said he will name his choices to run for the primary.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: school board, election