Sunday, March 30, 2008

Council Filing is April 7

There's still a week left to meet the filing deadline for a City Council seat.

To qualify, a person must be a "legal voter of the City" and a resident of the ward or wards up for election for at least one year prior to election, according to the City Charter. This year, the 3rd Ward seat and the Citywide at-large seat are up for four-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2009. In addition, the unexpired 1st Ward term of former Councilman Rayland Van Blake is up.

Incumbents are Don Davis, 3rd Ward; Harold Gibson, Citywide at-large; and William Reid, 1st Ward.

Plainfield has four wards and seven council representatives. The Citywide at-large person can be from any ward. Each ward has a representative. The other seats are 1&4 at-large and 2&3 at-large. The four-year sequence for elections is 1st Ward and 2&3 at-large; then 2nd Ward and 1&4 at-large; this year, 3rd Ward and Citywide at-large; next year, 4th Ward and Mayor. (The mayor must have been a legal voter in the city for four years prior to election.)

Petitions may be picked up at the City Clerk's office and signed petitions must be returned there by 4 p.m. April 7. Only Democrats and Republicans can file that day. Independent candidates can file on June 3, the day of the primary election. If there are Democratic and/or Republican primary races, the winners June 3 will go on to the November general election along with any independent candidates.

This year, Republicans must file committee candidates for 68 seats, a male and female from each of 34 voting districts. The committee covenes after the primary to elect a chairman for two years.

Some people prefer to get involved at the committee level and learn the ropes before running for council or mayor. Others plunge right in. Anyone running without party backing generally needs a team of supporters and a source of campaign funding to make a significant run.

As of last week, neither Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Green nor Republican Party Chairwoman Sandy Spector had responded to Plaintalker's inquiry on party screenings for council candidates. Currently, the mayor and all seven council members are Democrats.

With so many newcomers in the Queen City, one hopes they will take an interest in the workings of government. New faces at council meetings, new forces demanding the best of elected officials and new figures on the campaign trail could all help bring about the positive changes that so many residents say they desire.

--Bernice Paglia


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