Montclair Election 2012: Can’t Vote Without a Scorecard

UPDATE: Version 2.0, with additions and corrections, is now up.

See the full graphic here.

Let’s face it: this is one confusing election. On New Year’s Eve, now-mayoral candidate Karen Turner and her current running-mate Chris Swenson were thought to be running on a ticket led by Robert Jackson. Three weeks later, that ticket famously exploded, with Jackson reportedly failing to show up for a slate meeting, and it re-organized itself into a ticket with Swenson at the top, Turner running at-large and Harvey Susswein also on the ticket. A month after that, Turner turned up at the top of the ticket and Susswein was gone. A few days later, Susswein announced that he was running for mayor with his own slate.

Politics makes strange bedfellows; this we know. There is also a certain shorthand for the various slates. Turner, who started Concerned Citizens of Montclair, is the fiscal conservative. Susswein’s slate has been characterized as a continuation of the Remsen regime, and indeed Susswein told us in October that Remsen is an advisor. But what does the Jackson ticket represent? Hard to say. Jackson’s a former mayor, who lost a bitter election in 1988. He’s worked for Essex County and for Hovnanian. Yet despite a history in Montclair, he’s barely crossed Baristanet’s path in the past eight years.

We decided a scorecard would help. We scoured the internet to see what traces each of the 19 candidates had left — and assembled it all into an easy-to-read election guide. Thanks to Kevin Reidy at Spot-On Creative for the brilliant design. And if you see any patterns emerge, be sure to tell us.

See the full graphic here.

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  1. That headshot of Renee is atrocious as is Weller’s. Though the overall design is brilliant. Nice job Baristanet.

  2. “That headshot of Renee is atrocious as is Weller’s.”

    I agree. Those images are obviously pointed political statements…

  3. The good doctor is going to come after you guys hard for that illustration of her. Consider yourselves warned.

  4. Nice idea and design for voting guide. Clearly, you can’t please all people all of the time, but since it seems like a decent amount of thought was put into this, was the photo of Ms. Baskerville really the best available?

    C’mon guys, at least give her a fair shake like you did the rest of the candidates.

    (Commenting, reluctantly, despite suspicions that this is a calculated play on B’net’s part to jack up those site stats. You plan to replace that picture after comments on this topic surpass 100, right? Wink, wink, nod, nod…)

  5. I think there’s a typo under Renee’s name. It says, “On Planning Board, appointed by Fried,” when you must have meant, “On Planning Board, where Fried appointed her after she promised to vote in favor of Fried’s pick for town attorney, who she then threw under the bus two weeks later when he wouldn’t agree with her on a matter of law, at which point she, in a moment of chutzpah that will likely not be surpassed by any local politician, actually tried to get the town attorney she fired to give his opinion on the matter.” Would that all fit?

  6. Cute idea. (And yes, the images resemble trading cards, surely intentionally.)

    But the “highlights” offered up about every candidate are more than just a little bit selective. That some send their kids to private (you mean in the vein of St. Paul’s, RC parochial schools or somewhat more notably rigid places like Eastern Christian?) is surely of no real import. At least that holds if you’re not also going to emphasize who sends their kids to local public schools or is simply childless).

    And while I respect the acting talents of Mr. Zorich’s mother (and also of his father), really, what does his parentage signify in a council race? That bit was just the usual Baristanet dwelling on trivialities.

  7. I find a candidate’s (especially a mayoral candidate) decision to send his/her children to private school interesting. It certainly seems to reflect on that individual’s feelings toward the public school. Though you are right, if it is mentioned for one, it should be mentioned for all.

  8. This is Baristanet’s chart, and I agree it’s cute — I might even frame it. What it is not, however, is particularly fair.

    I worked for a terrific Democratic mayor in Philadelphia, Ed Rendell, and have five years of experience in municipal operations issues, two at the Philadelphia Streets Department and three at the University of Pennsylvania Police Department. I suspect and hope those facts, and even personal stuff like I have two wonderful daughters (ages 6 and 3) who I brought to Montclair because it’s the best place I could imagine for my wife and me to raise them, are more relevant to voters than the recipients of two (of many) campaign contributions.

    One of my opponents in the Third Ward, Sean Spiller, is indeed a public school teacher in Wayne. However, he also happens to be the president of the Wayne teachers union. See I salute Mr. Spiller for his service in both honorable positions, but he will have to explain to the voters of the Third Ward how he can advocate so passionately for public employees (and, not for nothing, higher taxes) in his day job in Wayne, and yet be a responsible fiscal steward for the taxpayers in Montclair, negotiating opposite Montclair’s public employees as a member of Council.

  9. The Montclair High School Civics and Government Institute will be hosting a community-wide mayoral debate.
    The debate will take place April 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the school’s LGI room.
    The focus of the debate will be on education in Montclair.
    It will be moderated by two high school seniors, Chris Murphy and Gabriella Peterson.
    Residents can submit questions for the candidates via email at or Twitter @CGIdebate.

  10. We will be doing a Scorecard 2.0 shortly, incorporating feedback from comments and emails we have received. Thanks for your input, Jeff and others.

  11. Debbie – I think others have left good feedback on how to make this chart give a more accurate picture of the candidates. One other misleading point is Jackson working for Sharpe James for 6 months. Did some research and it was 6 months in 1986 when he was first elected. I think that should be added as well.

Comments are closed.