The last time Montclair voters had the opportunity to vote for their local government, Barack Obama was president and the world in which we find ourselves was unfathomable. Now, as we stare into a future in which the world we know will be dramatically transformed, Montclair voters will be early pioneers — our municipal elections will be held entirely by mail-in ballot. May 12 is no longer the day we go to the polls to vote, but the deadline for mailing in our ballots.
There is no exaggeration in emphasizing the urgency of Montclair’s municipal election. The issues Montclair was struggling with before the COVID-19 crisis—development — affordability, parking, education, senior services — are not going to evaporate because we are now faced with recovering from a catastrophic public health and economic crisis. In fact, they will be intensified.
When I decided to run for office, I wanted to talk to voters about expanding transportation options for seniors and addressing parking shortages. However, the importance of having a local government in place with the experience and ingenuity to shepherd Montclair through the coronavirus recovery has become the message of my campaign.
In my current position as a human resources and facilities director, I am leading the team developing our COVID-19 response plan, including procuring supplies, re-thinking how the workplace is designed with social distancing guidelines, how we can test employees and screen visitors and how business operations will continue in an altered environment. As an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, I ran the Hurricane Sandy Command Center in New York City and served on the rent stabilization board. Previously, at American Express, I served on the Small Business Saturday and Shop Small teams. This is the expertise I want to put to work for Montclair.
- Montclair is going to need to put people in place with expertise in securing grants, navigating federal and state agencies, instituting best practice for workplace safety and public health, and helping our small businesses find the credit and capital to survive long term until their customers come back in full force.
- We will need to be creative in making difficult budgetary decisions and exploring new efficiencies that will allow us to preserve crucial support to our library, our arts, sports and culture programs, our youth and seniors.
- In a depressed economy, we could be faced with a housing glut in a contracted market, or will we be faced with an influx of new residents that will increase the demand for municipal resources and services at a time when our government will be operating under strained resources and revenues.
In 1998, I was discharged from the Air Force under the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. I found a different way to serve my country, organizing the march on Washington that led to the reversal of that policy, studying environmental science, working in government and crisis management.
I have worked tirelessly to advance equality and human rights, particularly in the area of preventing bullying and suicide among LGBT youth. I know how to galvanize and unite communities, and the hard work required to effect difficult but transformative change.
Montclair is fortunate to be able to attract a wide pool of smart and qualified candidates to run for public office, and I would be honored to serve with any of them on the town council. But, the ballot that should have arrived in mailboxes by now offers Montclair voters very distinct choices about the leadership they need and the future they want for this community.
I hope you will give me the opportunity to serve you as one of your Councilors at Large. Vote for me (box 3B) on your ballot and return it no later than May 12th. Visit www.peterformontclair.com/vote for help with your ballot.