Montclair Election: Hurlock Gets The Signatures, Selma Steps Out, And Will Schwartz Run?

collage election

Montclair’s election news is moving at a glacial pace, but we do have a few things to share:

* Last week, First Ward Councilor Bill Hurlock dropped off 104 signed petitions for the First Ward council seat. Hurlock needed 72 signatures to run again in the First Ward. He was told that the signatures had been verified, making him the first official candidate in the Montclair 2016 elections.

* Baristanet has learned that Selma Avdicevic, who had picked up packets for Mayor, 2nd Ward and At Large and was exploring a run for one of three seats, has decided not to run. “Due to medical reasons, I won’t be running in this election,” Avdicevic confirms.

* Rumor has it Martin Schwartz, Mayor Jackson’s appointed designee to the Montclair Planning Board, is being encouraged by residents concerned about development in Montclair to run for an At-Large council seat against incumbent Councilor Rich McMahon.

Councilor McMahon is the current Council’s appointed representative to the planning board. Sources say Schwartz has been encouraged to run to unseat McMahon because of McMahon’s support of what some believe were excessive heights and developments proposed under the original draft of the 2015 Master Plan.

“Martin has worked tirelessly to influence and turn around Planning Board and Council direction and decisions to represent resident viewpoints on development and historic preservation for the Master Plan and proposed development,” says Linda Cranston, head of Save Montclair, an advocacy group to preserve the character of Montclair. Cranston says the group is currently formalizing a town-wide coalition to ensure land use concerns remain an important part of the 2016 Montclair Council Campaign debates. She adds of Schwartz, “He knows how to get things done and works well with others to that end. He led the effort to modify the original hotel design which was completely out of character for our downtown.”

Ten years ago, Schwartz led the fight to designate the Marlboro Inn as a historic site, obtaining over 1000 letters and petitions which were ultimately ignored by Mayor Remsen and the town council.

Schwartz, who was very vocal last election, did not support any complete slate, but in an election blog analyzed some of the township’s key public policy concerns. He’s also been outspoken on many Montclair issues.

When asked about the rumors, Schwartz denied any plans to run at this time, but said that his work on the Planning Board has had an impact. “Many people now see the need for new construction and development here to remain in-character to Montclair’s existing, world class architecture,” says Schwartz, adding that he’s still working to reverse the Planning Board’s “give-away-the-store developer mindset” from the past.

Schwartz says he fully supports Mayor Jackson and Deputy Mayor Bob Russo and some of the other members of the current council who want to serve again.

When asked about McMahon, Schwartz said “Yes, Rich and I have some fundamental disagreements on the scope of development appropriate for Montclair. He has defended the building of eight-story construction at a number of public meetings and residents have pushed back accordingly.”

Will the preservation supporters who came out in droves to protest proposed building heights and at the Master Plan hearings now get behind Schwartz as a candidate? Schwartz would have to make a move — and soon.

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  1. Wards 1, 3 & 4 are going to be snooze-fests. The Mayoral campaign will no doubt have a surprise, maybe two. The At-Large will be the only chance at some fun because they will get all the good seats on the various high profile roles. Ward 2 will just be monotonous. It will all come together the week of the schools budget unveiling. There are a lot of unclaimed packets out, but I can wait until Spring.

  2. Mr. Schwartz seems devoted to Montclair and might be a capable councilman but his blithe indifference to property rights and market forces makes me nervous.

  3. elcamino – didn’t you write once that you were pretty new to town? There’s a lot of development history here from past miss-steps that you really should be aware of.

    Mr. Schwartz is one of the few leaders here who actually pushes to follow market forces and to stop the town government from shooting itself in the foot.

    For instance, a number of us fought against past Planning Board and past Council stupidities in our downtown area over economics. The last administration illogically let owners of the Assisted Living lot off the hook a few years ago (Steven Plofker and Brian Stolar). The Town let them get out of providing almost 100 public parking spots they contractually agreed to maintain at this site to help all other nearby downtown commercial real estate.

    A parking lot was always there and Mr. Schwartz was one of those publicly out-front with us to stop this foolish move. Instead, we ended up undermining our own tax base losing that needed parking on this part of Church Street. And that was after just sinking $1 million of town tax money into a Park Street mall rehabilitation.

    He also worked with a group of us downtown business owners to actively oppose changing the “use” at this site from a mix-use residence or hotel which those developers first agreed to build (again to maximize downtown commercial activity). Instead, the developers were allowed by the government to cash out and sell to a health care provider for bed-ridden elderly. Clearly less commercial activity generated. That was another stupid move our Planning Board and Council agreed to. Montclair should have held developers to their contractual promise under the redevelopment plan – which is how they first got the rights.

    Many of us continue to work with Martin on issues not just to preserve the town’s character, but also because we know it’s smart economics.

  4. Nothing changes much with Montclair elections. Daniel Cruz, 23, is running for Council now as an “activist” reports the Montclair Times.

    They write Cruz wants to win one of the Council’s two, at large, town-wide spots. Of course, there are no details of anything Cruz has really been ‘active’ with yet to date. Nonetheless, his website does have a developing array of well-meaning, progressive issues to begin to digest.

    Unfortunately, the guy’s youth and political inexperience are already showing. It appears he started cow-towing right upfront to the 4th Ward’s peculiar brand of ‘we do it our way’ election games.

    The young candidate says he originally started collecting petition signatures to run against 4th ward incumbent Rene Baskerville in his home ward. Cruz reports he was then advised not to run against the Councilor, who herself ran unopposed last time.

    But if Cruz had bothered to do his homework, he might not be listening to those community ‘leaders’ directed to whisper in his ear. That’s because Baskerville may not be so universally loved there by all 4th ward residents – as he was initially led to believe.

    In 2012, Baskerville got approximately 400 less votes than the total of all 4th ward voters in that last Montclair Town Council election. Approximately 4-500 people pulling the lever for Mayor and for town-wide jobs then did not vote for Baskerville in that election.

    That could certainly be read as an intentional “no” vote for someone running unopposed.

    In the 2008 race before that, Baskerville won only by 300 votes against two other known locals; David Cummings and incumbent Sandra Lang. So if Cruz actually had decided to mount a real campaign in 2016, presenting a serious platform against Baskerville in this election, he might have had a shot.

    Certainly it would be easier than going up against the entire Jackson ticket running together now – possibly even including Baskerville.

    But no matter what Council job Cruz decided to run for, it seems he may have to do some explaining first about this from the local 2012 police blotter:

    The occupants were both placed under arrest. Matthew Peinovich, 23, and Daniel Cruz, 19, both of Montclair, were charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said. Cruz was also issued a summons for possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle, according to police. Both were later released.

  5. Dunno spot, in the eyes of most voters in Montclair, he’ll probably have more explaining to do over his association with the Montclair GOP than for the CDSs. Ba dum bum.

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