The scenes from election night parties of Real Progress Montclair and Montclair 2012 last night couldn’t have been more different. As Karen Turner and her slate assembled outside of Tierney’s, getting ready to ascend the outside stairs to the party where their fans were waiting, they were tight-lipped and tense. I heard somebody on a cell phone say, “Are we still down by 1,000 votes?” and someone else shout, “Don’t ask how much we’re down by. Ask what the totals are.” At-large candidate LeeAnn Carlson, arriving, muttered the words a “hatchet job the New York Times” to a supporter. Meanwhile, manager Larry Kopp was so protective of his team he actually tried to body block me ascending the outside stairs as I followed the slate upstairs. Finally, he let me pass and go into the room.
After a chant of “RPM, RPM, RPM,” Kopp spoke, then Turner and the rest of the slate. “We really saw a groundswell from the citizens of this town,” Turner said. “We took the high road throughout.” And she pointed out that, as a result of her campaign, people finally know what the debt is in Montclair. Turner husband spoke last crediting her with having “a lot of balls” and saying “she took a lot of crap that most people wouldn’t take.”
Meanwhile over at Egan’s, a much bigger, happier, noisier crowd made it almost impossible to talk, take pictures or even walk across the room, as people — including opponent Harvey Susswein, Montclair Democratic party chairman Brendan Gill, political matchmaker Martin Schwartz and others — came to pay their respects to the new mayor-elect and have their pictures taken next to him.
Robert Jackson agreed to walk outside and give me a short video interview, and to help bridge the distance between our heights (he is 6’5″, I am 5’2″) he sat on the restaurant’s windowsill.
“We had a very, very competitive field, good candidates who challenged us the whole time,” he said. Asked what his campaign was about, Jackson said, “We stand for the Montclair ideal. We believe Montclair is more than just a place, it’s really an ideal. And we believe in protecting it.” Practically speaking, he said that meant managing the township better and growing revenues. Jackson also called Susswein, who had come by shake his hand, “an iconic figure here in town” who will be “working almost hand in hand with us moving this town forward.”
Turner this morning released her own video to counter the Montclair 2012 video that went around the day before the campaign.
One of the most gracious statements of the evening came from defeated incumbent Kathryn Weller-Demming, who deposited this note in our inbox shortly before 1 a.m.
I am thrilled with the results of the election! I think the voters of Montclair made really great choices, and we will all be well served by the 2012-2016 Montclair Township Council. I have really enjoyed serving the residents of Montclair, and feel truly confident that the accomplishments of the past few years will be exceeded, and we will all be able to remain in the community with values that we love.
Turner also called Jackson to congratulate him later in the evening.
“It was a long, hard worthwhile campaign,” Turner told us in an email today. “After all, it is the people that make Montclair wonderful and I had the privilege of making many new friends and building on existing friendships along this journey. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity.”
She said she hasn’t decided on next steps.
Update 10:21 a.m.: First ward councilor Rich Murnick, the only Montclair 2012 member not to win, just sent this gracious concession note over the transom.
I would like to thank the people of Montclair that have supported me during this campaign and my time in office. I have truly enjoyed serving this community for the past four years as councilman and look forward to seeing Montclair move forward. My congratulations to Montclair2012 and of course to Bill Hurlock for a great campaign and to his win in the first ward.
Although after July I will not be an “elected official” it doesn’t mean one can’t be involved. You’ll still see me coaching and walking the sidelines at every sporting event I can get to, fundraising is a must and there are lots of groups that need our assistance. I hope all the candidates move forward like I will and make a difference. Our kids are watching us lets make them proud.
From Selma Avdicevic:
First, I would like to begin by congratulating all the winners. I truly wish them the best in the next 4 years.
Let me say how grateful I am to all those who supported me and support the ideas for which I stand. While by no means historic, this has been an extraordinary election, if the number of candidates and turnout numbers are the judge. In my humble opinion, my team of volunteers and I ran a good campaign, which focused on my qualifications for this office, and my belief that what Montclair needs at this time is firm leadership and council members with strong financial acumen.
I ran for the 2nd Ward Council seat because I realized that was one of the most direct ways to affect change and provide comfort and assurance to the residents of Montclair that they will be well represented and their grievances heard.
I know many are disappointed. I am too. We must overcome this disappointment, and work together on making Montclair better for all its residents.
In his second State of the Union, Abraham Lincoln wrote: “We can succeed only by concert. It is not “can any of us imagine better?” But, “can we all do better?”
I urge everyone to attend Council meetings, Board of Educations meetings, various commissions, authorities, and boards’ meetings. Be involved. And, most importantly, be heard.
Let’s DO better. Montclair deserves it. Our children deserve it.
From Walter Springer:
I am writing today to say congratulations to Robin Schlager and more importantly to thank the efforts of each Montclair resident who participated in our 2012 township election. All candidates and voters should be proud of their participation and efforts in our democratic process.
This election process was the most spirited and debated campaign I have seen in my 22 years as a resident. Thank you to each resident who supported my campaign with a smile, handshake, encouraging words, Meet and Greet or lawn sign. To know that I was an actual competitor in this race is something that I am very proud of. I am also proud of the fact that Montclair’s 2nd ward councilor seat was contested with dignity.
All voting Montclairians have spoken and once the sting and exhilaration of this exercise wears off we must recognize that the sun will rise on a Montclair that needs to be united and resolute in sharing neighborhood issues.
The new council’s concern for each resident will be apparent as this new majority governs and decides our town wide and ward specific issues. Good luck to you all.
I will continue to work at making this town a better place for my family and my neighbors. Before I entered this campaign process I was not much of a blogger; I prefer to play in the game instead of making in-game and post-game commentary. I must say that some of the electronic media debate was interesting. I will now resume my position on the field of play.
From Jeff Jacobson:
I heartily congratulate Mayor-elect Jackson and Councilor-elect Spiller.
Anyone who saw Mr. Jackson’s performance at the CGI debate at the High School should not be surprised by his victory. He gave a commanding performance, answering tough and unpredictable questions thoughtfully and always with a positive spirit. I later watched him answer questions from a restaurant full of Republicans and do much the same thing. That Mayor-elect Jackson loves Montclair and has a bold vision for its future is not remotely in doubt. And if he is able to run Montclair as effectively as he ran his campaign, we’ll be in good shape.
Mr. Jackson ran on two big themes — more development for Montclair to bring in new tax ratables and selling our municipal services to neighboring towns through more shared services agreements — and the voters gave him nearly his entire slate to be his partners on the Council. It therefore will be easy for the voters to judge his performance. We should all wish him and the new Council well and support them however we can.
I want to thank the Third Ward residents who supported me in this campaign; to congratulate my friend Bill Hurlock, who will be an excellent First Ward Councilor; and to say how honored I was to run alongside Bill and three other fantastic gentlemen, Harvey Susswein, Tim Barr and Walter Springer.