|Asterisk denotes incumbent.|
League of Women Voters of Plainfield
Municipal Candidate Forum
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
6:30 – 8:30 PM
Emerson Community School
305 Emerson Ave. Plainfield, NJ 07062
Each year, as a service to Plainfield voters, the League of Women Voters of Plainfield hosts a Candidates Forum prior to the fall election. This year, we are pleased to offer a spring forum. The policy for participation in the forum is as follows:
After suggestions from the League of Women Voters of New Jersey (LWVNJ), the League of Women Voters of Plainfield will allow any citizen of Plainfield who is currently on the election ballot or a write-in candidate (who has an active campaign, is being opposed and is expected to receive at least 15% of the vote in the election) to participate in its election programs. All must submit biographical material and answers to the local League's questions to the LWV of Plainfield to be included in the forum and League of Women Voters of Plainfield’s publication.
A candidate who has agreed to take part in the Forum, and later finds out that he or she will not be able to attend, may submit an opening statement of the same length afforded the other candidates. The absent candidate's statement will be read by a member of the Plainfield LWV immediately following the opening statements of the candidates who are present at the Forum.
The time allotted to all candidates for their opening statements is not fixed, but is determined by the LWV Voters Services chairperson, predicated on the number of candidates who will be taking part in the Forum, and the amount of time accorded the LWV for its Forum by the host facility. Information about the amount of time for opening and closing statements, along with all guidelines and rules is given to all the candidates in advance of the Forum.
The Responses to LWV Questions follow the Biographical Sketches.
Councilwoman Diane Toliver
A native of Plainfield, NJ where she attended Plainfield Public Schools. Shortly after graduating from Plainfield High School, she continued to pursue her education at Union County College and Muhlenberg School of Nursing. Afterward, Diane put her entrepreneurial skills to work and became a Cosmetologist, a business owner and manager of her own hair salon for 32 years. As a business owner, Diane developed a sharp mind making sound decisions that lead her with an extremely successful business.
She has a love to see people do well in the community, because of her love and devotion for her community, she dedicated 10 years working the political polls. That transitioned into her becoming a mentee under the late Assemblyman Jerry Green's leadership.
With the desire and motivation of deepening her knowledge of politics, she successfully ran in 2014 and won as a Councilwoman in the 1st Ward in Plainfield where she has been entrusted for 4 years. Diane was inspired by others who paved the way set the boundaries and paid their dues.
As Councilwoman, Diane has been a great access to the City Council in Plainfield. She has accomplished several goals, here are a few as follow:
1. The Central Ave Fire Department has new male & female bathrooms. It took 91 years to go by for those important renovations to surface. It was a fierce battle, but determination got the job done.
2. She was an advocate for the downtown business owners and sponsored the homeless.
3. She pushed for a new walking trail in Milt Campbell Field, road infrastructure and economic development.
My future goals are to enhance the homeless program, revitalize downtown, participate in the clean sweep initiative, bring back manufacturing to offset property taxes and to foresee in the future a Municipal Complex to eliminate over spending on older buildings.
I perceive developers will continued their interest in our city. I will focus on more projects and Plainfield becoming one of the elite Cities to live in.
As a life-long resident of the City of Plainfield, I have had the opportunity to attend Evergreen Elementary School, Maxson Middle School, and Union County Vocational Technical High School. The lessons I have learned and the experiences I have had in this great city allowed me to attend North Carolina State University, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a concentration in Public Policy, and Rutgers University, where I earned a Master’s in Public Administration.
Upon my graduation from Rutgers, I was blessed with the opportunity to give back to the community that raised me by working for the City of Plainfield. In addition to working in the Plainfield community, I am also active in many organizations that work to give back and better our community.
Councilwoman Joylette E. Mills-Ransome
A resident of Plainfield for 46 years and a homeowner for 41 years, I am a graduate of Bennett College (BS), Rutgers University (Ed.M.), and Montclair State University (MA in Administration and Supervision).
As a lifelong educator of science, retired as Director of the Office of Science (Newark Public Schools), I remain engaged in the teaching and learning process. I possess organizational, problem-solving, and human relations skills. I wrote successful grants resulting in an upgrade to the Lord’s Kitchen and a six-week Inquiry-Based Science program for students in grades K-8.
I serve as the Executive Director of a non-profit. I am a Charter member and past president of CJA Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I volunteered to assist members of our community in need through service in Shiloh’s Food Pantry and Clothes Closet. I served as Voter Services Chair for the League of Women Voters of Plainfield and as a Commissioner of the Housing Authority of Plainfield.
As a member of the City Council since January, I have worked with several department Directors who exhibit professionalism and expertise in their area. I would like to continue to support their efforts in addressing quality of life issues for all Plainfield residents.
- Lifelong Plainfield resident
- Alumnus of Plainfield High School – Class of 2000
- Masters of Public Administration degree
- Retired Police Officer certified in multiple F.E.M.A planning protocols & disciplines
- Plainfield Public Schools: Board Member & Vice-President
- Past Director of Membership – Plainfield Boys & Girls Club
- Vice-President & Co-Founder: M.Y.C.I.R.C.L.E (Men & Youth Cultivating Integrity & Restoring Community Life & Education) – est. 2014
- Member of one of the Founding Families of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (est. 1903)
League Questions and Responses
1. Describe your Ward as you know it and explain how you will serve its constituencies?
2. How will you uphold the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches?
3. What do you feel can be done at the municipal level for our changing demographics?
City Council Candidates - Responses - 1st Ward
Councilwoman Diane Toliver
1. The 1st Ward is very unique, the citizens are close knit, neighborly and look out for each other and inform their neighbors on anything going on in their neighborhood. They are homeowners from the heart, it was not easy for some to acquire a home.
I reach out to my constituents on a daily basis, I supply as many citizens with my City Cards as I can, and let them know I'm focus on what count, THE PEOPLE. They can call upon me day or night and I don't stop until I get their problem resolve. I pass through different areas of the 1st ward and see if I see a potential problem, then I report it to the Administration. Appointments with the administration and citizens are necessary to get problems resolve sometime, that's why I constantly invite citizen to the Council meeting so they can be heard by the Governing body and the Administration. I'm always aware of my surroundings to eliminate a problem before it gets out of hand. Sometimes I will leave a message for a constituent first to see if we can resolve an issue.
2. My checks and balances come from follow ups, emails, phone calls and face to face conversation. I believe accountability for myself and my action come first. First and far most, I do my research to see if I agree with the executive branch and what the effects will be on the community. However, if I need to vote NO on the agenda I do so, to avoid a negative impact on my behalf.
I feel free to make decision for my constituents because they voted me into office to be their spokesman. There are times I may disagree with my constituent because at that moment they do not have all the facts concerning an issue. My job is to inform them with information for clarity. I have experience an explanation goes a long way with constituents and the executive branches.
3. Demographics as we have known it is changing rapidly in the City of Plainfield, the change has affected schools, homeowners, businesses and day to day operations. The administration has reach out by starting a new program for City ID's. Also, the schools have extra programs to enhance the language barrier for students as well as the parents. Another example, City Council approved audio to translate for citizens that are not bi-lingual. We encourage Citizen to come to Council meeting and get involved and express their concerns. Our younger population are starting families earlier and the aging are living longer. As a community we have to protect the aging from abuse and crimes. Our young adults are dying at a disturbing and alarming rate with the drug epidemic. Lastly, we need to concentrate on jobs for the youth, and determine the change in the population why has it affected our business district. Also, we need to look at how we can transform the low-income families, and the homeless to become vibrant productive citizens. The veterans in our City should be top priority, along with stabilizing the mentally challenge population. We as a society have to get back to honoring the family and our City if we want a positive turn around.
1. The First Ward is the most diverse and complex ward in the City of Plainfield. Geographically, the First Ward is home to numerous city parks, several business districts, including our downtown, various apartment complexes, and many single and multifamily homes. The population is just as diverse as its geography. While the First Ward is home to many lifelong Plainfield residents, it is also seen as an appealing destination to many of the city’s new residents because of its proximity to Route 22, Interstate 78, and Plainfield’s two train stations, which provide convenient access to Newark and New York City. The First Ward is also made of up residents from various countries who speak many languages, the main two being English and Spanish. I truly believe that to effectively serve constituents, one must be willing to meet them where they are. This starts with ensuring that all the First Ward residents know who I am. I would develop a strategy to introduce myself to all residents of the First Ward. Another effective way of serving the constituents of the First Ward is by getting out and talking to them. I would also serve my constituents by hosting town hall meetings periodically to hear the issues and concerns residents may have, especially those residents who are unable to attend City Council meetings. In addition, I would communicate with them through social media platforms. Ultimately, though, I feel that the best way to serve constituents is to make a real effort to keep them informed and engaged.
2. I would uphold the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches by asking questions, which helps to provide clarity. Another way to uphold the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches is to carefully review and understand the budget to ensure that the resources provided by the council are used appropriately. The council cannot get involved in administrative or day-to-day functions of the city, but through serving as liaisons to various city agencies, as well as serving on council committees, the council will provide the necessary checks and balances that are part of any effective democracy.
3. At the municipal level, there must be deliberate efforts to the engage residents of Plainfield. This includes, but is not limited to, having information in multiple languages, at the very least in English and Spanish. There is an ever-growing Latino population in the City of Plainfield. By not having information about city resources available in dual languages, a large segment of the population remains disengaged and uninformed. We must make sure every resident becomes engaged and informed about what Plainfield has to offer, and that can begin by simply reminding residents of who their elected officials are. When people know who represents them, they begin to feel connected to the larger community because they know who to reach out to. I think that partnering with our large and ethnically diverse business community, as well as with our school system, can be of great help in this regard. Also, at the municipal level, we must begin to engage our youth and young adults. With all of the new development coming to Plainfield, it will be primarily young adults, both ethnically and racially diverse, who will be moving here to occupy the housing. Therefore, we must make sure that we are able to show these new residents that Plainfield has many wonderful amenities, such as our parks, restaurants, and arts and cultural activities, to attract them to live, work, and play here.
City Council Candidates - Responses - 2nd and 3rd Wards At-large
Councilwoman Joylette E. Mills-Ransome