Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Candidate Forum - Fall 2015 Election Publication

School Board Candidates

City Council Candidates

Each year, as a service to Plainfield voters, the League of Women Voters of Plainfield hosts a Candidates Forum prior to the fall election.  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.  Any unopposed candidate who is present at the beginning of part of the forum for their category will be introduced to the audience.  The candidate, as per League policy, will not speak.  The candidate can however submit a biographical sketch and answers to the League’s questions to be included in the publication.
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.

League of Women Voters of Plainfield Forum
LWV-NJ Moderator: Marlene Sincaglia

 Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Plainfield Public Library, 800 Park Avenue

6:30 - 8:30 PM

The Biographical Sketches and Responses to LWV Questions Follow for the Candidates that Submitted Information


Emily Morgan

Bachelor of Arts, Accounting and Economics, Rutgers University; Over 30 years accounting and fiscal management experience; Former Early Childhood Teacher, Girl Scout Troup Leader High School Sunday School Teacher; Plainfield Democratic Committeewoman (Ward 3, District 6).

Jackie D. Coley

My name is Jackie D. Coley, a Plainfield resident for twenty years, married to Tyrone Coley Sr. for 31 years, the mother of three children two daughters, a son, and a proud grandparent of two lovely grand girls 5 & 6. I graduated from Elizabeth High School, went to Union County College and attended Sawyers Business School in Elizabeth where I received my diploma in career Secretary/Word Processing and an Outstanding Achievement Award in Office Procedures in 1989. I have been employed by the City of Plainfield for 25 years.  I currently work at the Plainfield Fire Division and have worked under the Plainfield Police Division for 12 years of my career. I served as board secretary for the Plainfield Municipal Employees Association Union for 8 years where I received an award for dedicated service in 2005. I served as a Deaconess for over 16 years at Shiloh Baptist Church, Elizabeth, NJ. I am currently a member of St. James AME Church in Newark, NJ, a member of the NAACP and I’ve been proudly serving on the Plainfield School Board for the past 3 years. When re-elected I will continue to make the best decisions for our children, implement the best policies, be an advocate for better/safer learning facilities and continue to support our Superintendent as she continually seeks to hire the best educators for our children so that they can be college ready. One of my favorite quotes as stated to my children while they were growing up: Learn baby learn, so you can earn baby earn – Tyrone Coley Sr.

Richard Wyatt, Jr.

Former student of Plainfield School System; College Graduate; Resident and City Employee; Proud father of three; Passionate mentor and member of community service organizations.
NOTE:  John Campbell did not submit a biographical sketch or response to the League’s questions, per LWV forum rules.


Barry Goode (Democratic Candidate for 1st & 4th Ward At-large Seat)

I have been a resident of Plainfield for nearly twenty years.  I understand the challenges facing our city during these trying times.  I am committed to community service in Plainfield.  I received a B.A. in Business from the University of Pittsburgh and believe that my experience in the areas of business and economics have prepared me to be a positive addition to our city’s leadership.

I am a widower who left corporate America to care for my terminally ill wife, who died in 2005.  As a devoted, concerned, and involved parent, I became the liaison with the school’s PTO and worked to improve the quality of education for all students.  My children, Candace and Christopher, graduated with Honors from Plainfield High School.  I am the President of the Melrose Avenue/Place block Association and a member of the Plainfield United Block Association.

I am an ordained minister in my church, moving toward full-time ministry.  I continue to spearhead clothing and food drives for homeless residents and other Plainfielders in need.
Norman E. Ortega (Independent Candidate for 1st & 4th Ward At-large Seat)

Norman E. Ortega is a career social worker and passionate community activist for various causes in Plainfield. He is the co-author of the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs with the former late Councilman Ray Blanco. Norman is also the former Director of Centro Hispano Americano as well as the cofounder and former chair of Angels in Action Foundation - a non-profit organization committed to bringing progressive reforms to our educational system and community outreach efforts to ensure equal access and opportunity for all residents in Plainfield. Norman is also founder to newly organized Tri-County Latino Coalition of NJ (TLC-NJ), a youth-based Latino leadership community organization based out of Plainfield. Norman received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration from Kean University.
Norman is asking for your vote on November 3rd, 2015 to be your Plainfield City Councilman for 1st & 4th Ward at Large. He is running as an Independent candidate with no political backing and will only answer to residents of Plainfield. Community and the under-represented populations of First and Second wards will be his focus. He believes the political atmosphere in Plainfield needs to be inclusive of all people in our town. With your vote and support, he would like to make history, as we have not had a Hispanic council representative on the City Council for nearly a decade. 

Cory Storch (Democratic Candidate for 2nd Ward Seat)

I have been a Plainfield resident for 36 years. My wife, Lois Mattson, and I have raised two children here. My family and I have become very involved in Plainfield in many ways and love our city very much.

A little background on my life and work in Plainfield: While my children attended Cook School, Lois and I became very involved with the school community through the Parent - Teacher organization. I participated on the Citizen's School Budget Advisory Committee for six years and chaired it for two years. Then I ran for School Board and was elected. My School Board colleagues and I changed a polarized Board of Education into a cohesive working group. When I was School Board President, I presided over the search committee for Superintendent of Schools which resulted in the hiring of Larry Leverett. I served on the Board of Education for six years. 

I have served on the Planning Board for 10 years and have been an advocate for lower density building in residential areas and transit oriented development around our train stations.  I was elected to the Plainfield City Council in 2004 and have been a consistently independent voice on the Council with the three administrations and Mayors I have worked with. Additionally, I have been deeply involved in the local community. I was a coach for the Plainfield Youth Soccer Club for eight years.  Lois and I been active supporters of the Plainfield Symphony, the “Y”s and many other worthy Plainfield causes. 

In my professional life, I have been CEO of Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services for 26 years. Bridgeway is a non-profit organization that was recently recognized for excellence in psychiatric rehabilitation services for New Jersey residents who have psychiatric disabilities.

John Campbell (Independent Candidate for 2nd Ward Seat)

John Campbell is a 26 year old small business owner, property owner, and Babson College grad where he served as President of the student body for three consecutive years.  Born and raised in working class Plainfield N.J. things certainly did not come easy for John growing up.  A local advocate since age of 16, John has always fought for the preservation of the core values that helped define our community. John’s work has included small business incubation, consulting as well campaign advisory for a host of local, state and federal campaigns in both New Jersey and Massachusetts. John has also worked for United States Senator Scott P. Brown in Boston where he witnessed firsthand the importance of strong constituent service. Becoming a small business owner at the age of 19, John has given back to our youth, mentoring countless children through his church and community and fighting to give them a better life. John helped spearhead one of Plainfield’s newest organizations, “100 Men” by helping to organize a back to school event with over 100 local professionals greeting our youth on the first day of school.    

Recognizing the importance of social responsibility & believing in the phrase “service above self,” John is one of the youngest members of Rotary International, a service organization comprised of leaders/small business owners who work tirelessly to serve the community. John believes that he would bring a very unique perspective to the city council, giving the young people a much needed voice during a time where college graduates fail to find unemployment, student loans are doubling, and foreclosures are on the rise. As a small business owner, property owner and recent college grad, John knows what it takes to get Plainfield  back to work, foster job creation and make sure that the next generation is prepared to enter today’s interchanging global society. 

The responses to the questions appear on this and the following pages beneath the candidate’s name.  The questions are not repeated.  The number of each response corresponds to the number assigned to the questions above.

Questions Posed to School Board Candidates
  1.  What strengths do you feel you can bring to the school board?
  2. As a board member, what issues will you advocate during your term?
  3. What do you see as the district's greatest need?
  4. What should be done to increase public engagement with the school district?

Emily Morgan

1) My major strength is my concern for the children and families of the City of Plainfield. Consequently, I have the ability to advocate on behalf of the children to ensure that each child has an opportunity to achieve academic excellence. Secondly, as the result of my experience in developing and managing budgets, I am cognizant of the need to identify new sources of revenue to meet the needs of our students. I will work to develop creative means of providing our students with an excellent education.
2) As an advocate, my focus is ensuring success in education for all children. We must ensure that each child develops strong reading and mathematics skills by third grade. I will advocate for opportunities and activities to foster a parent/teacher partnership that will help parents embrace their role as a key source of support and encouragement to their children. The lines of communication between school and home must be strong and consistent. As our children advance to middle school and high school we must develop programs to help parents learn the skills they need to help each student navigate this critical stage of their life. Peer pressure and other social concerns that impact their lives cannot be overlooked. Also, the district’s Guidance staff must develop a plan to assist students in developing “dreams” and goals for their future. This process should begin in elementary school.  
3) The district must develop both short term and long term plans with the specific goal of ensuring the educational success of each student. The plans should include assessments of the most beneficial use of the district’s resources. The district must work diligently to acquire funding for capital improvements, specifically to facilitate upgrades for technology, music, art, language arts and athletic programs for all children. 
4) The communication of information is the key to increasing public engagement in the school district. Each school should post information concerning Board of Education meetings, workshops, seminars and training sessions on the outdoor message boards and websites. The Plainfield Cable TV station should play a major role in providing information concerning school district activities. The Board of Education should host regular community forums to provide opportunities for residents to share their concerns, make recommendations, and propose alternative means of providing funding to assist in meeting the district’s curriculum objectives. We must ensure that each resident of Plainfield will recognize and embrace their role as an important stakeholder in the business of educating our children.

Jackie D. Coley

1) My experience as a Board member for the past 3 years.  My experience as a parent of three who have graduated.  In addition, my personal conviction and desire to ensure every child received a fair chance by obtain the Best/proper education that they need in every area.
2) A.  More adequate learning facilities that are updated for safety for our children.

    B.  More STEM programs

    C.  Continued updated curriculum that is equal across the states.

    D.  Help assure that the best qualified educators are hired for our children.

    E.  Continue to approve the best training for our educators

    F.  Continue to update, approve and create the best policies for our children and staff

3) To assure that we continue to hire the best qualified educators.  B. More updated, safer & better learning facilities.  More parent involvement and continued shared services. 
4) The use of our Community Engagement Liaison personnel, Newsletter, Networking, Shared services and Board members interacting with the community.

Richard Wyatt, Jr.

1) My strengths are my passion and vision. The school district has gotten worse over time, and now I am in the position to help bring about a change that is long Plainfield School System to a level that we have not been accustom to. It is my goal to help make our school system better one step at a time.  
2) First, I will advocate all of the positivity in the Plainfield School District. I will advocate for the renovation of our schools, boosting the morale of the teachers, and ultimately the mindset of our students. I will encourage the parents/guardians to be more involved, and ensure that our guidance counselors are knowledgeable about the many opportunities available to our students. I will encourage financial literacy at the elementary level, because it is an essential part of surviving in the real world. Overall, I will do all that I can to better prepare the current generation with the knowledge they need to survive and make wise decisions for the betterment of their future. Education starts at home, and what cannot or will not be taught at home lies in the hands of our school system. 
3) The district's greatest need is a VISION.  We have to raise the bar and create goals that will challenge the students, parents, teachers, and the school board.  We have to lead by example and teach the students that goals can only be reached by passion, hard work, dedication, initiative, and teamwork. Our vision has to involve everyone, and everyone must commit, and be held accountable.  Furthermore, the vision has to be well planned, coordinated and executed. We have to be able to instill our vision in the youth and make it so that they feel the need to expand upon that vision. 
4) We must invest in the lives and education of our youth and get more involved. We have to continuously promote and stress to the parents/guardians how important their role is in education. As a whole, the district has to support the PTO’s and work with the parents. We must initiate programs and opportunities that encourage the students to want to be involved and learn. It is vital that we utilize the resources that lie right before our eyes to grasp the attention of the students. Times have changed. Our children will listen to us if we simply took the time to listen and really hear them.

Questions Posed to City Council Candidates
  1. If elected, what legacy do you hope to leave by the end of your term?
  2. What do you see as the Council's role in the redevelopment plans for Plainfield?
  3. As a council member, what constituent services would you provide or support?
  4. How will you uphold the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches?
Barry Goode (Democratic Candidate for 1st & 4th Ward At-large Seat)

1) The legacy I would like to leave at the end of my term as Councilman is that of a firm but fair public servant who met the needs of the people.  I want to also be remembered as an independent thinker who did not “pass the buck,” was visible and accountable, and always approachable.
2) Council members should be concerned not only with the conduct of daily affairs but also with the future development of the city. This is extremely important for the city to move forward and produce a larger tax base to provide some tax relieve to homeowners. I am in complete support of the current administration’s redevelopment plans for Plainfield.  
3) The constituent services that I, as a Council member, would provide or support would include taking seriously my role as a policy maker to promote and ensure adherence to policies that protect the welfare of the city and its residents; provide complete community leadership, and direct the enforcement of city ordinances. 
4) It is important for a Council member to always keep the lines of communication open with the administration and the constituents.  Council members should read information provided by the administration thoroughly, ask clarifying questions and openly discuss the issues.  Adherence to this process should result in Council members basing their responses and actions on issues to what is in the best interest of the city and its residents. 
Norman E. Ortega (Independent Candidate for 1st & 4th Ward At-large Seat) 

1) The legacy I hope to leave at the end of my term is a legacy comprised of the wishes of all residents of Plainfield: A stronger local economy and industry, significant reduction in crime, conscientious redevelopment; a recreational center for the Fourth Ward; revitalization of East Second Street in the First Ward and finally, efficiency and unity within our local government.
2) The council’s role is to ensure that any redevelopment conducted in the City of Plainfield, needs to be conscientious and efficient. And this means, ensuring that the redevelopment is needed, it’s friendly to the City’s purse and residents and that it is going to contribute to a better quality of life for all residents. 
3) I would support a city-wide analysis of all services provided to our residents to determine whether we are getting the level of service we are currently paying for. I would make myself available to my constituents as much as possible and will work to provide them with a virtual 311 services that would accept and address their concerns and thoughts. I will also introduce a program to assist homeowners with Property Tax appeals to lower their property taxes and keep them in their homes. 
4) I will uphold the balances between the branches of government by proposing ordinances that will encourage transparency and efficiency. Our residents need to know more of the inner workings of both branches and this can only be done by involving our residents on all issues of our municipal government.

 Cory Storch (Democratic Candidate for 2nd Ward Seat)

1) My aim is to help improve the City Council so that it works effectively with the Mayor so that we can have effective partnerships with developers, investors and businesses to create jobs and increase tax ratables.

2) The Council has to understand the redevelopment process, not be afraid of gentrification and not depend on the guidance of special interest groups. The Council and Mayor have to engage residents and local business leaders to create a shared vision of Plainfield’s future. The Council has to provide support to the administration to make the development process work.   With our two train stations, underutilized properties and cultural diversity, Plainfield has great development potential.
3) I will continue to be an advocate for better city services.  When a resident doesn’t get good services, it is not enough to listen to their problem or even get them relief.  Service improvements must be made so that going forward other residents don’t experience the same poor services.
4) There are many temptations to get into the city administration’s business of running the city day to day. I will continue to point out to my colleagues when they step over the line and hope they will do the same for me if I do so.  
John Campbell (Independent Candidate for 2nd Ward Seat) 

1) In terms of a legacy, I’m hoping to reign in on wasteful spending and leave the city with a firm financial footing. Beyond that I’m hoping to leave a city that people can afford to live in, especially our seniors. Taxes increase each year while many incomes remain fixed. People who’ve worked 30 plus years and have managed to amortize their mortgages are losing their homes for PMUA and taxes. That shouldn’t be. Taxpayers are our city’s strongest asset and should be treated as such. Further, Plainfield is largely considered to be a bedroom community. I’d like to reverse this statistic and encourage folks to not only live here, but become a part of our great city’s fabric.

2) I think that the best thing that a council can do in terms of redevelopment is foster an environment which encourages businesses that are attractive, sustainable and conducive to economic development. Not dollar stores and bodegas, but coffee shops for millennials, Trader Joes, Chipotle and family restaurants. These will not only attract people and change the perception of Plainfield, but grow our tax base by creating ratables and help build a sense of community that we’re lacking by encouraging folks to contribute to our local economy instead of stimulating our neighboring towns. 

3) In my capacity as a legislative aide for a United States Senator in Boston, I was tasked with responding to each and every concern that constituents raised. Even if I did not have the answer, I responded. In keeping with the idea that it’s truly the “People’s seat” that I am running for, as a member of the City Council, I would respond to all calls/emails within 48 hours and issue a quarterly newsletter (via email) to my constituents. 

4) I respect our Mayor and the decisions that he is able to make in his official capacity particularly regarding his support staff.  With that in mind however, tax payers hold us accountable for ensuring that hires are competent and qualified.  It is our fiduciary responsibility to ensure that this is done in good order, while respecting the authority of our mayor.