Friday, March 17, 2006

Green Offers Pay-To-Play Forum

Plainfield Democratic City Committee Chairman Jerry Green has invited the public at large to join members at a meeting tonight (March 17, 2006) to learn more about state “Pay-to-Play” election contribution rules. Green will also announce candidates for two City Council seats.

The meeting is 7 p.m. at the YWCA, 232 E. Front St.

The state has established new rules for political contributions and several municipalities have set their own rules. The state rules may be seen at

Some city residents want more stringent rules.

Rebecca Williams of the Bayard Rustin Progressive Democrats suggests a sample ordinance from the Center for Civic Responsibility, designed for Dover Township.

The comparisons can be arcane for the average citizen, who is unlikely to be making a big political contribution anyway. The issue is the relationship of politicians and vendors doing business with the governmental entity the elected official represents. Donations from vendors have been a staple of campaign funding, but new rules limit the amount as well as some of the traditional means of sidestepping limitations, such as having relatives or agents make additional contributions to curry favor for a business.

At last month’s Democratic City Committee meeting, Green said the rules are so confusing that not even the state Election Law Enforcement Commission has figured them out. He said he has sought professional help on campaign accounting and fundraising issues and expressed hope that candidates will not reach out to vendors for campaign contributions.

Meanwhile, residents must decide who to vote for in two City Council elections. The two seats up for re-election are the 1st Ward, currently represented by Rayland Van Blake, and the 2nd & 3rd Ward at-large seat, currently represented by Rashid Burney.

Green stated on Feb. 24 that he will pick the two candidates for the party line. The committee voted last month to authorize him to make the choices.

Candidates must file for the June primary by April 10 and any objections to the qualifications of a candidate must be made by April 14.

This year is also when city Republicans get to reorganize, fielding a slate of city committee candidates and selecting a chairperson in June, in addition to naming candidates for the two City Council seats. But Republican Party Municipal Committee Chairperson Sandy Spector said Thursday she is not ready to reveal the party’s candidates yet.

--Bernice Paglia


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