Election Day was a bitter sweet day in Plainfield: sweet because of the success of our local democratic candidates, and bitter because of the losses that were suffered by House Democrats. The congressional losses will slow the pace of reform at the national level and will affect President Obama’s agenda in a very negative way.
Nevertheless, the American people have spoken and the President must listen. It is important for him to make the necessary adjustments to his agenda and approach, as former President Bill Clinton had to do in the wake of the 1994 mid-term elections that brought us Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.” President Obama, like all good leaders, must be willing to practice the art of compromise as he prepares to enter the negotiations arena with the new Speaker of the House. The challenges that the nation faces require a very strong bi-partisan effort.
The people of Plainfield can be proud of the fact that they stood with President Obama at a time when he needed them the most. They came out in large numbers to support one of his key allies, Congressman Frank Pallone. The number of registered voters in Plainfield as of October 14, 2010 stood at 21,630. Of that amount, 8,696 (40.2% of registered voters) voted in Tuesday’s election, a significant turnout in an off-year election. This was due in large measure to the tremendous efforts of New Democrats working to get the vote out in the 2nd and 3rd wards of the City, and to other Democrats who pulled the vote out in the 1st and 4th wards. I commend all of you who worked tirelessly to ensure such a significant turnout in a mid-term election.
Congressman Pallone owes his victory to the very strong show of support he got from Plainfield.
As we look to 2011 and beyond, we must do all that we can to tighten our belts in these austere times of record unemployment, a housing market that shows no sign of rebounding any time soon, dwindling state aid, declining revenues, and rising health benefits and pension costs. We must, out of shared necessity, find ways to reduce the costs of government so as to lessen the burden on homeowners who are stretched to the limits. One way to accomplish this is through an aggressive marketing effort aimed at attracting investors to our city. Another way is through shared services agreements that are based on economies of scale. We must also put pressure on our state elected officials to put an end to binding interest arbitration as we know it today.
Last, but not least, is for the state to force municipalities to consolidate and to expand the role of county government while at the same time redrawing county boundaries to align with reconfigured municipalities. These are some of the bold steps that must be taken in an effort to slow the rate of property tax increases.
Again, I wish to congratulate the entire slate of column A Democratic Party candidates for their victory on Tuesday, especially my dear friend, Councilwoman-elect Rebecca Williams, Bill Reid, and Freeholder-elect Linda Carter. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with all of our local and county elected officials to effect change in a meaningful way.