Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Van Blake Wins Freeholder Seat

City Council President Rayland Van Blake will join incumbent Freeholders Daniel Sullivan and Bette Jane Kowalski in January, triggering the need for an appointee to replace him on the council. The need may come earlier if Van Blake chooses to resign.

The young actor was the hometown favorite, with 2,662 votes to Kowalski’s 2,405 and Sullivan’s 2,249. Countywide, the incumbents drew more votes than Van Blake, but the Democrats easily bested Republicans and squashed a challenge from a slate led by incumbent Freeholder Adrian Mapp, shunned by the Democratic organization for his ongoing loyalty to the New Democrats. Mapp got 1,020 votes in Plainfield, but his running mates got far less and the slate came in dead last countywide.

Despite the mailing and Election Day handouts to vote Column A, Democrats appeared to pick and choose candidates on the slate. Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Green got 2,597 votes for another term in the state Assembly, but his running mate, incumbent Assemblywoman Linda Stender, got 2,798 and incumbent state Senator Nicholas Scutari got 2,820 in the city. Van Blake even got more local votes than his party leader.

Republicans generally got fewer votes in the city than Mapp’s slate, but made a much stronger showing countywide.

The appearance of Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority Commissioner William Reid at the Oct. 30 budget meeting might be a clue as to who will succeed Van Blake. Reid is treasurer of the Democratic City Committee and has served as campaign treasurer for the Democrats. He has none of the New Democrat taint that still seems so worrying to the Regular Democrats. In fact, if memory serves, he was passed over for reappointment by the late former Mayor Albert T. McWilliams and only got reappointed to the PMUA last year.

Or then again, maybe he was just an interested citizen. Given that only three other citizens were there, he swelled the ranks by 25 percent.

Speaking of percentages, about one-fifth of the city’s eligible voters turned out Tuesday to vote.

An Election Day sidelight: According to observers, the half-day closing of City Hall yesterday angered property owners who showed up eager to pay back taxes before a tax lien sale. The frustrated taxpayers were reportedly vocal in their protest and tried to organize a petition drive, observers said.

--Bernice Paglia


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