Montclair 2020 Municipal Election: Candidate Reactions and Reflections (UPDATED)

Baristanet asked candidates in the Montclair municipal election for reactions to both the unofficial election results and their campaign experience as a whole (Baristanet will update with any additional responses we receive from candidates):

Maggie Joralemon

Maggie Joralemon, Candidate, Third Ward Councilor

I would like to express my gratitude to all those who supported me in my run for third ward council seat. Thank you to all who encouraged me, shared your wisdom and extended your expertise. You know who you are. Gratitude as well to those who aided Line B to move forward with a transparent campaign funded largely by small, local donations. Thank you to all who believed and continue to believe in the abiding vision of Dr. Renee Baskerville, who will remain in service by her presence to all residents of Montclair. Her deep commitment to this town and its residents is unwavering. Five members of Line B were first time candidates who all harbor great love and appreciation for living here. Each has a unique history of public service. Montclair, along with four other municipalities, began their campaigns at the beginning of what would be a global pandemic. Everything came into question–starting from our neighbors’ well being, to the needs of the most vulnerable, and to the multi-faceted recovery that lay ahead.

Nonetheless, through our perspectives and deep relationships within our respective communities, our campaign was successful in bringing issues of common concern into greater clarity–housing, parking, aging in place, pedestrian safety, traffic patterns, environmental concerns, rent regulation, protecting and creating green space, and the consequences of overdevelopment. Future ongoing civic engagement to the extent possible during these precarious times will give us space to act on what is really important, not just for some of us, but for all of us. I have the utmost confidence in David Cummings, Fourth Ward Councilor and Peter Yacobellis, Councilor at Large, to perform the appointed responsibilities and tasks with skill and integrity.

The Lackawanna Plaza development venture is for many the greatest disappointment of the last eight years of local government. The property has been vacant for nearly six years with the exception of two small businesses. We are still without a full service supermarket. No doubt the project itself was in overreach from the start; the pushback by community is not unwarranted nor unjustified. As evidenced by the defeat of Montclair Master Plan Phase 2 on Portland Place, this is not a chess game. These are people’s lives. We pay taxes and we vote.

As of this writing , ballots are still being received and counted. Some outlets announced the projected winners on the evening of May 12th , before more that 3,000 ballots, nearly 1/3 of the vote, had arrived. Yet in all, Renee Baskerville is 1.7% , or 195 votes behind Sean Spiller. This should be telling us something on face value.

I congratulate Sean Spiller, Lori Price Abrams and the rest of Line C on their accomplishments and wish them well in their terms. The road ahead will take all of us in equal measure to serve one another and the township skillfully and compassionately as we recover from the pandemic and nurture our best selves.

Lori Price Abrams

Lori Price Abrams, Candidate, Third Ward Councilor

“As a first time candidate for elective office, I am humbled and deeply gratified to have had a successful run for 3rd Ward Councilor. I look forward to serving my home community in Montclair. This win is due in no small part to the opportunity to run with a dedicated and experienced group of leaders, including my current 3rd Ward Councilor Sean Spiller who will lead Montclair with empathy and smarts as our next Mayor.

I deeply thank the volunteers and the voters who supported my candidacy. I am committed to helping us navigate forward in the face of current challenges back to the dynamic and engaged community we love.”

Dr. Renee Baskerville

Dr. Renee Baskerville, Candidate for Montclair Mayor

“With excitement and great resolve I presented myself to Montclairions as a candidate for Mayor of Montclair. I entered the race requesting that all Montclairions who believe in “We the People,” the power and potency of Democracy, the Power of Women to lead in Creating a More Perfect Democracy, a More Perfect Montclair, and the possibility of an effective, new, civil and respectful municipal government team, working with all Montclairions, to make Montclair a more prosperous, inclusive, just, safe and secure, thriving community, to join me and my Your Voice Montclair slate in increasing the moral guidance that I have been providing for the political processes and structures that effect the distribution of benefits and burdens in this Township; and building a robust post-coronavirus and recession 2020 economy in which residents in every ward would participate.

I noted that we are at a defining moment in Montclair—amid the worst public health crisis in our lifetime, and what is shaping up to being one of the worst economic recessions of our lifetime. Too many of our families are struggling to remain in our Township with its high taxes and low affordable housing stock; and others who want to move in cannot afford to; our formerly Blue Ribbon public school system has lost its coveted position in the top tier of New Jersey schools, the foundations of our local, small, disadvantaged, women- and minority-owned businesses are being badly shaken by coronavirus and the current recession, so too are others of our businesses and our human needs service providers.

My plan is for (1) thoughtful development; (2) excellent and equitable education; and (3) socio-economic diversity. I noted then, as now that we can turn this situation around, get past the divisions that have prevented us from realizing our full potential and our ideal, and with my seasoned municipal leadership in this Township and my slate of fresh non-elected officials, but seasoned professionals and community leaders with new ideas, new lenses, unique skills, experiences, perspectives, and vision running with me; a clean slate that represents the diversity and integrity of the of the Township, and with the support of the electorate, we can Move Mountains for Montclairions so that we can climb higher together. I noted then as now, cannot move forward looking backward, live in the past and have a brighter future.

I am delighted that nearly half of the 7,639 voters whose votes have been tabulated at this time, embrace and support this vision. I was privileged to hand-pick Mr. David Cummings for the Council seat for which I previously beat him. He is the 4th Ward man for this season. I turn over to him a Ward in which the constituents received personal, kid glove constituent services. In this era of coronavirus, he is certain to continue providing the gloved treatment to which they have become accustomed. I was also privileged to hand pick and introduce Mr. Peter Yacobellis to Montclairions, also a Fourthwardian. A man new to the Township, who with support from Garden State Equality [Yacobellis confirms that he did not receive money from Garden State Equality, the Victory Fund or any organization. “Everything was raised from individuals.”] was able to put his name and personal agenda before Montclairions, and win an at-large seat.

Your Voice, Montclair is pleased with the way so many Montclair voters worked with and voted for us to slay the dragon. With David and Peter, while slaying the dragon — saying no to political bosses from Trenton and around the state supplanting their will for the will of We the People; moving Montclair from local control to state control. We are eagerly awaiting the final ballot count by this coming Friday. We eagerly anticipate additional victories upon the counting of the ballots from Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.”

Sean Spiller, Candidate for Montclair Mayor

“To my fellow Montclair residents, thank you.

I could not be more humbled and thankful that voters have placed their faith in me to move our township forward and protect the things that make Montclair special.

I want to extend my thanks to all of the candidates who stepped forward to run. I also offer thanks to my Montclair 2020 – Progress in Action running mates. Governing effectively depends on being able to work as a team. I am proud to have run with folks who bring diverse perspectives to the table and look forward to serving alongside all members of the Montclair Township Council.

Finally, I want to recognize all of those who volunteered their time for our campaign. This campaign was marked by the unprecedented challenges posed by a pandemic. Despite these challenges, our volunteers stepped up in a big way to help communicate our message to voters.

And now, it’s time to get to work. We will address the challenges of this pandemic together. We will do all we can to keep residents safe and to get everyone and each business back on their feet as we come through this health and economic crisis.

Together, we will fight to preserve what makes Montclair special.”

James Cotter sent this “after” photo

James Cotter, Candidate for At-Large Councilor

I spent today performing the thankless task that occurs every four years like a political circadian rhythm: tracking down and removing Cotter for Montclair lawn signs. But as I drove around, yanking metal spikes from yards across Montclair, I was reminded of the kindness and support I received from friends and strangers, neighbors all, in this strange and hectic contest of ideas.

I’d like to thank and acknowledge all of the candidates who ran in this municipal election. Clearly, this is not how any of us thought we would run a campaign: no shaking hands, no kissing babies, no meeting voters, period. But thanks to the engagement of voters, huddled in their homes, braced against the storm of the pandemic, we have been able to have a thoughtful discussion about issues that are important to all Montclairions.

Democracy didn’t pause and I’m encouraged by the fact that even in the midst of this crisis, the essential interaction of local government, voting, endured. Even though we are physically isolated, we are not separated from the fundamental values that make our community unique. Lately, my thoughts have turned to a Montclair tradition, the July 4th parade. I’m not sure if we will be able to hold it this year, but I’ve never missed one in my 32 years in town.

If you’ve never been to the July 4th parade, brace yourself. It’s a grand and sweaty mess! Political groups from the left and right rub shoulders with senior citizens, soccer kids, PTA parents, local businesses, marching bands, tow trucks, veterans, bubble dancers and pranksters with squirt guns. To me, it sums up the exactly what Montclair aspires to be: diverse and inclusive. Everyone’s welcome.

I ran for Councilor At-large to bring that spirit of collaboration and civic participation to local government. I wish the new Council my best wishes. They have a very difficult road ahead and will need the help of all of us.

David Cummings

David Cummings, Fourth Ward Councilor Elect

“I can’t say enough about Dr. Baskerville. She put together a diverse slate that presented new voices for Montclair to consider. There’s no doubt her name at the top of the slate was key to Peter and I winning. I think the numbers in the 4th Ward prove being on her team was beneficial to me, and certainly key for Peter as an At-Large candidate.”

Bob Russo

Bob Russo, Candidate, Montclair Councilor-At-Large

“I want to thank so many Montclair voters from all wards in town for giving me such strong support for another term, to continue serving during this difficult time. Congratulations to all the newcomers & all my incumbent colleagues who hopefully will work together to advance Montclair in a Progressive direction! As a former Montclair Mayor myself, I want to congratulate Sean Spiller, my fellow Educator, on his hard fought victory & wish him luck in the years ahead!”

Bill Hurlock

Bill Hurlock, First Ward Councilor

“I am honored and humbled that the voters of the First Ward have given me the opportunity to serve on the Town Council for four more years. The overwhelming level of support in such challenging times means a great deal to me. Please know that I remain committed to working with the First Ward residents and community groups that make Montclair so special. There is much to be done, but we are a resilient community, and together we will emerge from this pandemic to make Montclair an even greater place for us all.”

Robin Schlager

Robin Schlager, Second Ward Councilor

“The votes I received yesterday I look at as votes of confidence. Votes from constituents, neighbors and friends that feel I am doing a good job in representing them on the Town Council and the Second Ward. I sincerely thank them all for their support from the bottom of my heart.”

Carmel Loughman, Candidate for At-Large Councilor

“First, I would like to give kudos to our hometown digital and print news sources for their steadfast reporting on this election. In an era where true journalism is elbowed out by the wild-west of social media, I admire our hometown reporters and the work they do to deliver an excellent product.

Next, I would like to thank those Montclairians who worked on my campaign, donated to my coffers, advocated for my candidacy, and voted for me. I came into the race knowing I was a political outsider, novice campaigner, and a long shot independent candidate. I worked hard under exceptional circumstances to voice my message about independent views, data-based decision making, fiscal conservatism focused on our tax burden, and practical solutions to town issues. Along the way, I learned a lot about politics and power.

While I am disappointed that I did not win, I did well to get over 1,100 votes. I am happy to continue my civic engagement on the Planning Board until 2023. I wish all my fellow candidates courage, resolve and success over the next four years as they tackle town issues in these unusual times.”

Peter Yacobellis

Peter Yacobellis, Candidate, Montclair Councilor At Large

“I’m very excited about the results we are seeing, but at the same time, it is important we respect the outstanding ballots still to be counted. We do not want to send the incorrect message that ballots mailed in at the end of the election do not count. All votes count. That said, I am very proud of the positive campaign we ran with a message of ensuring inclusivity, bringing new ideas to how we solve problems, and increasing civic engagement. Montclairions have been responding positively to that message along the way, and I will carry the hopes and expectations they offered to me to the Council. I have so many people to thank for this success, but I will wait for the final results to share the many thanks and congratulations that will be in order.”

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  1. Congratulations to the triumphant and my appreciation for all the candidates trying to make Montclair a better place.

    The registered voters? Seriously? Was that a protest vote or did you just find a hand-delivered ballot was beneath you?

  2. This is Carmel Loughman. 10,011 ballots received as of today Wednesday at 8 p.m. The preliminary results were based on 7,639 votes counted. Not sure that a winner should be declared yet on the tight races.

  3. You’re killing me. The 2 day vote count prior to “polls closing” increases 10+%. The 24 hours after “the polls closed”, the vote count goes up 1/3rd? Any bets on how many votes come in over the next 24 hrs?

    C’mon Carmel. This is Essex County!

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