McWilliams, Mapp Win Big
McWilliams, daughter of the late Mayor Albert T. McWilliams, ran for the citywide at-large City Council seat on a platform of bringing new energy and change to city issues. According to preliminary figures from City Clerk Laddie Wyatt, Annie McWilliams racked up 1,838 votes to incumbent City Council President Harold Gibson's 1,093.
"I'm so happy," McWilliams said. "It means a lot for the city. It speaks for what the citizens wanted."
"Plainfielders have spoken loud and clear and have sent a message that they need change," Mapp said. "Annie and I will work with every member of the governing body and the administration to deliver that change."
The wins represent a resurgence of the late mayor's New Democrat movement that sought to displace the machine politics of the Regular Democratic Organization controlled at the county level by Chairman Charlotte DeFilippo. In 2005, DeFilippo thwarted Mayor McWilliams' bid for a third term and the Plainfield party leadership reverted to Assemblyman Jerry Green, who backed the mayoral candidacy of Sharon Robinson-Briggs. As mayor, she is now in the third year of a four-year term, but has riled some with her removal of Police Chief Edward Santiago and her insistence on having as bodyguards two police officers who openly supported her campaign.
Green must seek re-election to the Assembly next year and will also have to fight to retain his chairmanship of the Democratic City Committee for another two-year term.
As mayor and party chairman, Albert T. McWilliams brought in new, young candidates for City Council, but since regaining the chairmanship, Green has fielded older party stalwarts for council seats. Gibson is a half-century older than his challenger and retiree William Reid, running unopposed in November for an unexpired First Ward term, served as Robinson-Briggs' campaign treasurer.
With Democrats outnumbering Republicans 10 to 1, the primary victory virtually assures success for McWilliams and Mapp in the November general election. Barring any complications, they are likely to begin four-year terms on Jan. 1, 2009.