Vote Montclair Founder ‘Apologizes’ For Causing Distress, Says He Should Have Known Better

On Friday, after news of an opinion piece published Monday caused the organization he founded to implode, Vote Montclair’s Erik D’Amato sent an apology of sorts to the organization’s email list. D’Amato did not answer question from Baristanet regarding the status of the organization.

D’Amato writes:

“First, and most important, I apologize for causing distress to many whom I consider friends, and disappointing the large number of residents who have supported Vote Montclair. Personally I stand by what I wrote, but I should have known better. This was not the right message, in the right words, at the right time. It was not in the best interest of the group I had created and urged others to believe in, or the core issues it was built around, and those should have taken priority,” D’Amato writes.

“It felt good, I admit, to speak my mind candidly, but I did not think, as I should have, about the cost. I let down friends and collaborators and the capacity to continue important initiatives we started is in doubt. Most pressing among these is to ensure that a pending drive to modify the Township’s form of government is conducted fairly and objectively, and not with the goal of furthering the interests of a few insiders, and results in local elections being held when people actually vote.

In sum, I am grateful for your previous support and trust. I am sorry if I betrayed it, or if this apology seems insufficient. Either way, please, and most importantly, don’t let any mistakes I’ve made become a reason for your voice to be any less loud than we all need it to be.”

In the opinion piece entitled “This Is How Montclair Mayor/NJ State Teachers Union President Sean Spiller Was Humiliated at the Ballot Box,” D’Amato is critical of Montclair teachers with seniority, saying that in Montclair “truly toxic senior teachers were seen as untouchable.”

D’Amato makes references to one of Montclair’s most beloved current teachers and cast aspersions on a former teacher and BOE candidate. The piece was published Monday, less than a week after the first-ever election for Board of Education members took place.

D’Amato also gloats over causing Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller to “lose his power” as a result of the group’s successful effort at changing the town’s Board of Education from appointed to elected.

The continued fixation on Spiller, who no longer has any say in BOE appointments, seem to recall a divisive time in Montclair when similar opinions were voiced in an anonymous blog called Montclair Schools Watch.

In August 2020, D’Amato told Baristanet he was not “connected to any education reform group, but rather is interested in this issue [an elected BOE], as well as a larger, related issue — increasing participation and voter engagement in town.”

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  1. His friends and collaborators only jumped ship after the ride to victory. Clever planning of his article – one week after all was said and done.

  2. Personally, I have to tip my hat to his skills and commitment. In a way, this and his style reminds me of Bobby Fischer, the chess player.

    Anyway, I equate this VM experience to a holding a wedding. VM sent out invites, got the RSVPs, and then less than half the guests showed up. But, let’s do it again. But, wait! What if is this another queen’s gambit? Are we changing government or is it just what he says – GOTV.

    This is so Montclair. We’re not the brightest bulbs. Fortunately, we’re not the dimmest either!

  3. Oh Boy…wow…two mistakes were made. 1) D’Amato expressed an opinion. 2) He apologized.
    Now, who looks worse? D’Amato or his detractors?

  4. Apologize? No, he made an apology for those who barter with their values. And for the many scurrying to safer spaces, he offered his opinion of you:

    “It was always going to be hard to try to back centrist candidates while remaining an insurgent force not afraid to ruffle feathers, and there was always a plan to part ways after the election if we were successful, owing to the long history of political clubs interfering in the operation of the BOE,” he read from a prepared statement. “I just accelerated this separation, and made it more stark, by getting back into the fray so soon after the election.”

    Ouch! Double ouch!

  5. Flipside,

    If that was apology? To who? For what?

    More hubris.

    It’s amazing how some of those closest to him have gotten real quiet. Very telling.

    Next election will be a circus.

  6. Pardon, He apologized for upsetting people. Why should he apologize for having an opinion? Was he supposed to be bullied into changing his stance because it is unpopular in some circles? That sounds Orwellian.
    …and Frank,
    “offered his opinion of you” ….what does that mean? If it means that I feel ALL voices should be heard whether I agree with them or not then yes, that would be a correct opinion of me. Anything else would just projection on your part.

  7. Flipside,

    Not directed at you. I’m in agreement w/you. I was speaking of the VM scurrying ones – Gonzalez, the two incumbents, et al.

  8. “It felt good”
    Lol. Self- serving little man.

    The two candidates are either playing stupid or they were completely used by this man.

    Either way, such an embarrassing start to their run on the BOE.

  9. Flipside, Orwellian sounds about right for this town. This is not to suggest that Mr. D’Amato is Winston Smith (though in 1984 Smith is captured by the Authorities and sent to the Ministry of Love) but that Oceania has an officially designated Hate Week.

    It’s still a good read; I recommend it for all those Little Free Library boxes that dot our humble Utopia.

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