Adrian Mapp's 2008 capture of a City Council seat marked a new page in his political story, which included a previous stint as a City Council member and one term as a Union County freeholder.
As a freeholder, Mapp had never broken his ties to the progressive New Democrats and so was denied a second term by the Regular Democratic Organization.
But in 2008, Mapp and his running mate, Annie McWilliams, trounced two RDO candidates in the Plainfield primary and went on to win the general election.
Soon after taking office in January 2009, Mapp announced he was running for mayor against incumbent Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who was backed by Assemblyman Jerry Green, the RDO city chairman and her political mentor. Mapp was serving as chief finance officer in Roselle, another divided Union County municipality, and a council faction there contrived to relieve him of his job by consolidating finance functions with Roselle Park and firing him.
Back in Plainfield, the mayoral primary roster swelled to six Democrats, some seen as spoilers to split the vote in favor of the incumbent. Whether or not it was a gambit, Mapp lost with 39 percent of the votes to the incumbent's 47 percent.
But the defeat could not make Mapp go away - he still has three more years to go in his council term and has become a strong challenger to some of the administration's actions and policies.
The Democratic Party's political whack-a-mole tactics have not silenced or subdued Mapp, and he remains firm in his convictions about proper governance.
Having had to study local government finance law in order to get his CFO certification, Mapp has been able to speak with authority on fiscal issues. The mayor is now under state orders to put a permanent CFO in place in Plainfield, as the post has now been vacant for two years.
The city has also suffered a high turnover of finance directors in the mayor's first term, making Mapp's insight all the more imperative when it comes to the budget process.
The events of 2009 have not embittered Mapp, which may make his adversaries all the more intent on trying to give him a hard time. A recent court decision upheld the Roselle council's ability to fire him, although the resultant controversy caused Roselle Park to back out of the shared services deal.
Meanwhile, party politics statewide took a hit in 2009 when dozens of elected officials were arrested on corruption charges. If Mapp wants to let his conscience be his guide in 2010 and beyond, rather than bow to Soprano State political mores, the city may be the better for it.