Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays from the League of Women Voters of Plainfield!

The League of Women Voters of Plainfield 
wishes you a safe and happy holiday!

A message from our President, Regina Bagley-Gray:
We will resume our monthly meetings in February 2014. The date is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, February 5. A confirmation will be sent to all members.


Regina Bagley-Gray

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall 2013 School Board and Municipal Candidates' Forum - Biographical Sketches and Responses


Wednesday, October 30 at Emerson Community School 
(305 Emerson Avenue at Leland Avenue)

6:30 pm - School Board 7:30 pm - 4th Ward 8:00 pm - Mayoral Candidates 


The League invited all candidates to submit electronic or printed versions of biographical information and their responses to league-generated questions.  The biographies and responses of the candidates who submitted information are found in the LWV publication which be available at the forum as well as below. This year there are six candidates seeking to fill three (3 year term) seats on the School Board; two candidates seeking to fill 1 seat (4 year term) on City Council representing the 4th Ward; and four candidates (1 Democrat, 1 Republican and 2 Independents) seeking the position of Mayor of Plainfield (4 year term). Candidates information appears in alphabetical order under office sought. 

NOTE: The following candidates did not forward the information requested to the League: Mayoral Candidate D. Scott Belin (Independent); 4th Ward Candidates Barbara Johnson (Republican) and Bridget Rivers (Democrat) and School Board Candidate Anabella Melgar.

The League posed the following questions to the candidates:

School Board Candidates
1.  What strengths do you feel you can bring to the school board?
2.  What do you see as the district’s greatest need?

4th Ward Candidates
1.  Describe the 4th Ward as you know it and explain how you will serve itsconstituencies.
2.  Do you believe that restoring the Grant Avenue and Clinton Avenue train stations  
     would help the 4th Ward?  How?

Mayoral Candidates
1.  What is your strategy to recruit a cabinet (city administrator, department heads,
     corporation counsel) for 2014 and beyond?
2.  The city has not had a full-time chief financial officer since 2007. What will you do to
     re-establish fiscal controls over the taxpayers’ money?


"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter…." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Biographical Information: Wife of John and mother of John Clyde and Jourdan McKinley;
BA degree St. Peters University; MA degree Seton Hall University; Post Graduate Studies New York University; Former teacher, administrator, business person and a Christian; An advocate for over 8000 Plainfield students, District staff, and their families
Accomplishments: During my tenure as a policy maker of the PBOE I have been a catalyst for the return of vital District academic activities that promote excellence such as Spelling Bees, math/science fairs; A supporter of the robotics and debate teams, and athletic competitions; More recently, I have championed for the inclusion of science technology engineering and math programs for k-12, reactivated partnership with the Liberty Science Center community involvement day (which resulted in the District being awarded grant money); Supported installation of high quality technology in every classroom; Sponsored African-American/Hispanic History/mentorship Programs; Recommended internal audit to promote fiscal healthiness; Implemented district wide documentaries, dinner, discussion series; Booster for smaller learning communities; Advocate for science labs and other facilities upgrades; Promoted adoption of Nutrition Policy before it became a national initiative; Introduced Community Wide Opening Day Welcome Back to School events. Committees: Curriculum Redesign,Human Resources, Resident Reader, Liaison to various schools, Past Vice President, PBOE President. Memberships include: New Jersey School Boards Association, New Jersey Urban School Boards, NJSBA Delegate Assembly, Council of Urban Boards of Education, Board of Dir. Association for Equality and Excellence in Education, National Alliance of Black School Educators, Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Union County School Boards Association.

Response to Questions
Q1: I am analytical, courageous, and a team player, who is committed to excellence. I am a firm believer in building consensus for the good of the community.
Q2: Continuity and consistency in curriculum that will equip our learners with the necessary skills to compete in global markets over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond.


Biographical Information: Mother and Grandmother; Plainfield Resident for many years; Active member of the Plainfield Community; Served on the Plainfield Action Board for three (3) years.

Response to Questions
Q1: The district’s greatest strengths are the students and their parents.  Our kids have many opportunities to learn and experience in our schools here in Plainfield.  We live in an area where there is diversity, which gives us the potential and ability to maintain a higher standard of education for our children that would help us stand out among our neighbors, as one of the best school districts in New Jersey.

Parents in our school district must give their children more support when it comes to homework, assignments, projects, and school activities.  This cannot be done, however, if there aren’t good lines of communication between parents and teachers.  Our district must support and foster parent/teacher interaction which will lead to better grades and student success.

Q2: I will bring energy, drive and time to the school board.  With these things, I will be able to actively display my understanding of education excellence which will translate to high quality education for our children.

I believe we live in a great community and we have an obligation to focus on the issues that concern our children’s education in order for them to be successful.  I would like Plainfield Schools to have a record of excellence that is illustrated by our students, teachers, staff board members and the Administration.

I would like to be on the board and to be part of the solution in providing our children with the best educational experience we can offer, so that they can be ready for the work force, business schools or college.

I don’t want to simply be a figure head on the board of education. I would like to contribute as an active advocate for our children in Plainfield. I would like to work toward their development and continued growth so they can take pride in their success.


Biographical Information: Born in Arkansas to a Church of Christ minister and a coffee shop waitress Richard Lear learned the value of hard work. It was very plain early on that he would work for everything in his life. Richard settled in Plainfield in 2010 after living in Los Angeles and New York City where he supported himself as a professional actor and swim instructor/coach. As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, Actors Equity Association and the American Federation of Film and Television Actors he served on three major committees and was an observer of one more. His job as a committee member was to negotiate contracts and procedures. After coming to Plainfield Richard immediately became involved in his community by joining the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District. In 2012 and 2013 he was on the Van Wyck Brooks scholarship committee for Plainfield High School students. This is where he had the pleasure of meeting some of the children and was introduced to the Plainfield school district. This is also where he realized the children were not receiving the education they deserve. Having literally put blood, sweat and tears into the home he purchased and loves, the idea that the Plainfield school district is ranked so poorly in New Jersey haunted his every thought. It finally became apparent that running for the board of education was the only way to make a difference. Richard has lived in Plainfield with his fiancé for over three years and plans to retire here in this town that has become very dear to him.

Response to Questions
Q1: I feel my background in contract and procedure negotiations will be a strong asset.  Having spent my entire life as an actor my job was to study human behavior and to be a very strong communicator.  Having had to work hard for everything in my life I am not afraid to put in the time and effort it will take to get our schools back on track. 
Q2: We need accountability for the poor ranking of our schools so we can give our children the education they deserve.

Biographical Information: Frederick D. Moore, Sr., 1112 Lakeview Terrace, Plainfield, NJ 07060; High School – East Orange High School 1956-1960; College – University of Maryland Eastern Shore – BS. Physical Education & Health 1962-1966; Work Experience – 1966-69 Elizabeth School District; 1969-2007 East Orange School District; Work Duties – Teacher, Dean of Students and Coach – Physical Education, Health and Driver Education; Coaching – Football, Track & Field, Baseball and Tennis; Disciplinarian – Dean of Students; Organizations – Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; Free and Accepted Masons; Married for 47 Years with two Sons and five Grandchildren.

Response to Questions
Q1: 41 years of urban teaching experience; Board of Education Member for the past year; EOEA negotiator.
Q2: Continued improvement in academic growth; Developing a District wide K-12 Gifted & Talented Program; Advancing a S.T.E.M. School.


Biographical Information: I am a long time Plainfield resident, born and raised, and attendee of Plainfield Public Schools. I come from a tradition of progressive activism, myself participating in several organizations that demand representation for interests of working people at large. I attended Drexel University’s School of Architecture and lived abroad as both a teacher and an architect in France before returning to Plainfield over two years ago. I am currently one of the city’s most active bloggers.

Response to Questions
Q1: I feel that my strengths as an architect will be of great value to the school district as they complete major capital improvements. Also, my history as an activist and defender of the people, going as far as even risking my own wellbeing, shows that I will stand up at all costs to local interests that want to capitalize on our public system of education. There can never be too many people with backbone on this board of nine. I also consider my years in the Plainfield School System as giving me a unique perspective. Additionally, as matters affecting the Board of Education happen across many city departments, it is an asset to have a candidate who attends other public city meetings and holds our leaders accountable.

Q2: This district, like a large number of our school districts, has many needs. Chief among them is the need for an educational environment that stresses the belief that all of our children can succeed, and that while students’ living environments serve as a hurdle, they are certainly not a barrier to success. It is proven that this outlook - from the superintendent, to the board members, to the teachers and administrators – does indeed have an impact on achievement in the classroom.

Biographical Information: Adrian Mapp is the Councilman for the 3rd Ward in the City of
Plainfield, New Jersey where he has resided for over 33 years. He has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Amelia, for over 33 years; together they are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters, Shermona and Ayisha, who both attended Howard University.
Councilman Mapp and his family attend Saint Mark's Episco­pal Church in Plainfield, where they are active members and where he and Amelia were married 33 years ago. Adrian served on the vestry and continues to serve as a Sunday School Teach­er and lector to this day.
Councilman Mapp has served the residents of Plainfield on the City Council since 1998 (except for a term as a Union Coun­ty Freeholder from 2005 - 2007). He led the Plainfield council as President in 2004 and again in 2012. As council president he spearheaded the adoption of a bond ordinance that resulted in the paving of 22 city streets; under Adrian's leadership the council adopted bond ordinances that resulted in the largest road resurfacing program in the city's history.
He holds an M.B.A. in International Business from Fairleigh-Dickinson University, a B.S. in Accounting from Rutgers University, and an A.A in Public Administration from Union County College. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a Certified Municipal Finance Officer (C.M.F.O.) and a Qualified Purchasing Agent (QPA).
Adrian is currently the Director of Finance and Qualified Pur­chasing Agent for the City of Orange Township.
Response to Questions 
Q1: I will use my professional network and conferences, (such as the New Jersey League of Municipalities) as well as traditional advertising to recruit qualified personnel for my administration.

Q2: I will aggressively recruit a qualified and highly skilled CFO to be presented to the governing body for advice and consent in January 2014.

Biographical Information: Mustapha Muhammad, known to many in the Plainfield community as “Chunny,” is a life-long resident of the City of Plainfield. He married his childhood sweetheart of 40 years. He and his wife Jeannetta Billups-Muhammad have three daughters and three grandchildren. Mr. Muhammad attended Plainfield Public Schools and studied at Union County Technical Institute. Like President Barack Obama, Mr. Muhammad is a community organizer with superb team building skills. His knowledge and grassroots experience working with people in all walks of life has given him the know-how necessary to build teams that get the job done. He is a Minister, a Dianetics Auditor in the Modern Science of Mental Health, and he has spent many years working in construction.

Response to Questions
Q1: Our campaign has developed a “short list” of qualified candidates, for key positions in the administration, and has begun exploratory outreach. We are organizing a transition team that will continue the process of identifying and vetting qualified and dedicated professionals, who have a commitment to the City of Plainfield, our vision, strategic goals, and policy initiatives. 

Q2: We will make an assessment of the City’s fiscal controls, with a careful review by our team, of the City’s most recent audits, and the auditor’s findings and recommendations regarding the City’s internal controls. We will evaluate any deficiencies, in both human resources, and technical systems, and identify the scope and skill sets required to ensure the department is fully functional and adequately staffed.


Biographical Information: Born and raised in NJ; BS in Management - NYU, 1970; PhD in Industrial Psychology - NYU, 1974. Community Involvement: Pres. New Audiences for Plainfield, Pres. Plainfield Symphony Executive Board, V.P. MOPPUP, Pres. Friends of the Plainfield Public Library, Member of Advisory Committee of Plainfield SID, VP League of Women Voters, Chairman of PMRC, Life Member NAACP. Own and operate: Comme Chez Soi Enterprises, Inc. Power Within Hypnosis, Inc. Proven Solutions, LLC.

Response to Questions
Q1: What is needed is an honest, far reaching job search without regard to political cronyism. It is vital to put an end to the machine that has dictated policy and appointments for over 20 years. The Plainfield version of “Pay to Play” i.e. being rewarded for partisan political campaign participation, has to end. All positions need to be aggressively advertised and the resulting applicants thoroughly vetted.  We cannot continue to throw money at less than qualified candidates, only to perpetuate an embarrassing administrative revolving door that is not just expensive but injurious to our city.   If we take the politics out of hiring, we can and will attract the best and brightest to Plainfield.

Q2: We have operating procedures embedded in our Charter and Bylaws. We must start, immediately, to put our fiscal house in order. No more borrowing from one department to cover expenses in another…no more frivolous spending…no more back room deals…no more undue influence from outside our city limits. We are hemorrhaging money due to the lack of proper supervision. A forensic audit will show us where the leaks are and how to stop them. We cannot keep expecting our residents to tolerate the indifferent attitude that comes out of City Hall. The lack of a full time CFO is tantamount to not only inviting the fox into the hen house but offering to carry his chickens out for him. There is simply no reason that a qualified applicant cannot be found. Not only I will start the job search the day after the election, I will look to take advantage of the amazing reservoir of talent we have right here first.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Special Election: U.S. Senate: Wednesday, October 16

The special election to fill the Senate vacancy is 
Wednesday, October 16. 

The polls are open from 6:00 am until 8:00 pm.

Monday, September 16, 2013

National Voter Registration Day - Tuesday, September 24

National Voter Registration Day is Tuesday, September 24.  

This year, the League of Women Voters of Plainfield will have volunteers staffing a table at the C-Town Supermarket at 1405 South Avenue in Plainfield beginning at 9:00 am on that day. 

Below are the deadlines for registering to vote in this year's elections:

Voter Registration Deadline for October Special Election: Wednesday, September 25.

October Special Election: Wednesday, October 16. Polls open 6:00 am - 8:00 pm.

Voter Registration Deadline for November General Election: Tuesday, October 15.

November Election: Tuesday, November 5. Polls open 6:00 am - 8:00 pm.

Monday, August 12, 2013


The special primary election to fill the Senate vacancy caused by the death of Senator Lautenberg is Tuesday, August 13. The polls are open from 6:00 am until 8:00 pm.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Annual League Dinner at Cafe Vivace

The League of Women Voters of Plainfield recently held its Annual Dinner and Meeting (at Cafe Vivace in Plainfield) to elect new officers for the 2013/2014 year.

At the dinner, the members elected Regina Bagley-Gray (second  on left side of table), as president for the upcoming year. She succeeds Rupert Crawford, seated on her right.
At left, Alice Logie receives a token of appreciation for 52 years of service to the Plainfield league. Seated next to her is John Campbell, a new member of the Plainfield LWV. The Plainfield chapter is one of the oldest in the U.S. and was the first in the state to elect a male president (the late Herb Green).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Letter of Thanks from Dawn Clarke, Vice President of Voter Service, League of Women Voters of New Jersey

Below is a letter the LWV-Plainfield received from Dawn Clarke, the moderator of the scheduled (but cancelled) Mayoralty Forum that was to have taken place on Wednesday, May 22nd. The League thanks Dawn and the Friends of Sleepy Hollow as well for their dedication to  our mission.

----------Original Message----------
From: "Dawn Clarke"
Date: May 23, 2013 12:41:45 PM
Subject: RE: Plainfield Mayoralty candidate forum Wednesday 22 May

Hi All,

I just wanted to let you all know how proud I felt working with you all from the Plainfield LWV; you exhibited such a spirit of cooperative, civil concern!  You did such a super job of organizing last night's forum; engaging the other community groups and media and so many of you handling the various tasks to make it flow.

It was too bad that we were forced to cancel but even in that the public was informed because you handled it so well, with grace and respect.  The young people were excited to be there and your non-partisan, cooperative responsibility was a good model for them to observe.  It should make for good class discussion. 

We certainly received "a charge" from the audience.  I can't tell you how many people stopped me, asking to make sure we were planning forums in the fall.  I promised them that the LWV would be there and do it.  You all are really doing a positive community service; keep up the good work.  Thanks.

Dawn Clarke
V.P. Voter Service LWVNJ
973 379-4520