Monday, February 02, 2009

Late Mayor McWilliams to be Honored

An outpouring of love and respect for the late Mayor Albert T. McWilliams accompanied City Council action Monday to name a downtown city plaza in his memory.

McWilliams served the city as a councilman and two-term mayor after starting his public service by working with the Plainfield Business Development Corporation to bring about economic growth downtown. The memorial site at Park Avenue and Front Street reflects both his love of outdoors and his hopes for the downtown, speakers said Monday.

"This is a bittersweet moment for me," said Darlene McWilliams, the late mayor's wife, who said as his "ears," she heard all his plans, ideas and concerns for Plainfield.

"I can tell you that Al loved this city," she said.

The memorial plan, developed by a committee of friends and supporters of the late mayor, surfaced a year ago. But before the group could gain council approval in time for a memorial service on the one-year anniversary of his death, former City Council President Harold Gibson used his executive powers to strike the item from the agenda last spring.

In June 2008, Annie C. McWilliams, daughter of the late mayor, beat Gibson in the June primary and went on to take his citywide at-large seat in the November 2008 general election. Her success and that of former Councilman Adrian Mapp for election to the Third Ward seat signaled a return to power for the late mayor's "New Democrats."

In support of a memorial, committee member Mary Burgwinkle said the group was "not asking for a cent of city money," but would conduct private fundraising to pay for an as-yet unspecified marker that would meet with council approval.

Councilman Cory Storch read into the record his comments on the late mayor's legacy, noting among other things that a majority on the council came to serve through their affiliation with McWilliams.

The late mayor's daughter noted Monday that she and her four siblings "grew up in City Hall" and thanked the "countless citizens who felt the deep grief" of his passing and wanted to turn it into something meaningful for the city he loved. She said he brought a "strategic vision and much-needed unity to the Queen City."

The memorial, she said, serves as a reminder that "genuine love, perseverance and commitment to do the right thing is valued in our community."

City Council President Rashid Burney said he didn't know the late mayor for very long, but said, "He gave us a lot of hope."

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If AM was that good and successful, why, after 8 years as mayor, was the City, by most objective criteria, in such bad shape? The city did not turn the corner under his hand. Look what he left us with! Sadly, the city is back at square one. That said, AM was a decent person and a better mayor than most; name the plaza after him, but don't make him out to be something he was not.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. He was a good guy, an average PART TIME mayor. Give him the honor, name the park after him. After all, he is the one who made the park what it is now. BUT don't make him out to be a saint. And DON'T make him out to be a "unifier". The only people who were "unified" were his followers, the so-called new democrats. The rest of the real democrats and regular residents of the city were tossed aside.

I don't look forward to the upcoming mayoral election. I predict that the "new dems" will pull out all the stops, and drag the mayor and the assemblyman through the mud.

Sharon and Jerry are widely liked and respected around the state. Yes, Plainfield is far from perfect. But talk to some residents of Roselle. NOBODY can stand Mapp, and he has done a lousy job there. Add to that the fact that he is both arrogant and stupid, and Plainfield's reputation will suffer.

Anyway... I am not looking forward to this election cycle.

9:46 PM  

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