Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Two To Challenge Gibson

Two people have filed to challenge Democrat Harold Gibson for the unexpired term of the late Citywide At-large Councilman Ray Blanco.

According to the Elections Division of the Union County Clerk’s Office, Republican Deborah J. Dowe and Independent Robert F. Edwards met a 4 p.m. deadline Wednesday (Sept. 20, 2006) to have their names on the November ballot.

Plainfield’s Democratic Committee chose Gibson to fill the vacancy shortly after Blanco died on July 28. But he can only serve until the Nov. 7 general election and must be elected to serve the balance of the term, which expires Dec. 31, 2008.

The filings must be verified and are unofficial until Monday.

If there are no challenges or glitches, the Democratic slate on the November ballot will be 1st Ward Councilman Rayland Van Blake and 2nd & 3rd at-large Councilman Rashid Burney, seeking re-election for four-year terms, and Gibson to serve out the unexpired term.

Republicans fielded Arlington Johnson for the 1st Ward and former Assemblywoman Angela Perun for the 2nd & 3rd Ward at-large seat. Dowe will now round out their slate.

No independent candidates filed in April. Edwards will appear on the ballot with the slogan, “Open, responsible government.”

Before the Aug. 4 Democratic Committee meeting, Hispanic activist Flor Gonzalez had called on the party to replace Blanco, the city’s first Latino councilman, with a Latino candidate. Latinos were counted in the 2000 Census as 25 percent of the city’s population and now are estimated to be a third or more. Union activist Christian Estevez and Gibson addressed the committee, but then former Mayor Harold Mitchell proposed a slate that excluded Estevez. Party Chairman Jerry Green told Estevez, “You have a career in the city,” but advised him to do more local political work.

The City Council chose Gibson Aug. 23 to replace Blanco after being offered his name plus those of Hattie Williams and Sylvester Palin. The Democrats also forwarded Gibson’s name to the county as the party’s choice to be on the November ballot.

The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 7 general election is Oct. 17.

--Bernice Paglia


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