Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2017 Primary Municipal Candidates Forum - Election Publication

League of Women Voters of Plainfield Forum

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 • 6:30 – 8:30 PM

Emerson Community School

305 Emerson Avenue, 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 happy to announce that we will also host a primary election forum. All candidates were contacted through their address of record, provided to the LWV-Plainfield by the municipal clerk's office. All candidates were asked to observe the league's deadline of Monday, May 15 for receipt of a photo, a brief bio, and answers to the LWV-Plainfield's questions. Candidates who did not meet the submission deadline will not appear in the printed publication. Our 2017 Candidate Forum will take place on Wednesday, May 31 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM at Emerson Community School, located at 305 Emerson Avenue in Plainfield. This year, a total of ten (10) candidates will appear on the ballot in the municipal election. Below are the responses received by the candidates.
The Biographical Sketches and Responses to LWV Questions Follow

Mayoral Candidates - Biographical Sketches

Rev. Tracey L. Brown:
Rev. Tracey L. Brown is a native of Newark, NJ. Her family moved to Plainfield in 1976. Rev. Brown is a graduate of Plainfield High School, and was inducted into the P.H.S Hall of Fame for girls’ basketball. She is a graduate of Montclair State University and inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame for women’s basketball. Rev. Brown played professional basketball in Sweden and the United States. Rev. Brown is a former Plainfield Board of Education member and a former Councilwoman At-large for the City of Plainfield. Rev. Brown is the Pastor and Organizer of the Ruth Fellowship Ministries in Plainfield, NJ; she is the first female Moderator for the Middlesex Baptist Association in their 110 year history. Rev. Brown is a former school teacher at Abraham Clark High School, Roselle, NJ and former DYFS Social Worker and former Family and Neighborhood Counselor for the Union County Youth Services Bureau, Linden, NJ. Rev. Brown has received numerous Community Service Awards, just to name a few such as, The Frontiers International, Plainfield Area Club, the Westry Horne Community Service Award for Leadership and Collaboration in Reconnections Re-Entry Program by the Urban League of Union County, Inc. 2015, Zeta Phi Beta, Inc. Outstanding Accomplishments in Ministry. Reverend Brown has recently been awarded, “The Distinguished Community Leadership Award” by the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. 2017. Reverend Brown has received numerous resolutions and Proclamations for community service.

Dr. Henrilynn Ibezim
Plainfield, NJ resident for 20 years; Ph.D. in Political Science; Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Registered Nurse in New Jersey & New York; Co-owner of Liberty Medical Care Services; Over 20 years in Health Care Administration; Past Lecturer & Adjunct Professor of Political Science.

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp
January 1, 2014, Adrian O. Mapp sworn in as Mayor of the city of Plainfield; Mayor Mapp served as a councilman in Plainfield for over 12 years; Union County Freeholder for one term; Mayor Mapp is a CPA and a Chief Municipal Finance Officer; Director of Finance and Qualified Purchasing Agent for the City of Orange; Mayor of the Year 2017 by Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Councilwoman Bridget B. Rivers
New Paradigm – Proven Leadership for All; Bridget B. Rivers is a life-long resident of the “Queen City.”Her Issues: Untapped Potential: Plainfield’s Youth; Historical dedication: Plainfield Board of Education president and vice president; Community Service and Organization: Founder of Plainfield Drill Team and Camp Organizer for underprivileged children. Both promote positive self-esteem, work ethic, and team building. Christmas and Back-to-School events to encourage compassion, confidence, and preparedness. Voice to the Voiceless:  The Forgotten. Served on the City Council for nearly eight years, promoting tax saving initiatives; Resident workshops for job preparedness; Animal Welfare:  instrumental in helping craft and introduce model tethering ordinances. Removing Silos: Strength Through Unity, Identifying common concerns—taxes, crime, education, and youth; Developing and promoting skill sets and City assets where cost savings can be realized. 

Mayoral Candidates - League Questions and Responses

1. What is your stand on tax breaks for developers, and what type of development do you think is best for each ward? 
    2. What deterrents to gun violence and other crime will you advocate? 
    3. Name three goals for improving the quality of life in Plainfield.

Rev. Tracey L. Brown
1. PILOTS can be a helpful incentive when a city is hoping to revitalize a neighborhood with new developments. This is why I voted for two PILOT projects during my term as city councilwoman. My objective was not to create a trend. Ward One: High-end department stores and family style restaurants. Ward Two: Satellite Senior Center and a dog park. Ward Three: My vision is for a thriving medical development that brings tax revenue and enhances the overall character and value of the surrounding neighborhood. Ward Four: Full Service Youth Center and community gardening.
2. A) Mandatory consistent jail sentence for those in possession of guns without permits. B) Other crimes =community service, and court ordered counseling for rehabilitation. C) Mentoring programs (specifically for juveniles).
3. A) Effective Community Policing: Foot patrols in high crime areas and Police Mobile Units strategically located throughout the city. B) Full Service Youth Center that stays open at night based on age of children/young adults, and Senior Services: This enter would provide legitimate age appropriate activities, various types of training and counseling that will benefit the youth of our community. Senior Services that meet the needs of our residents. C) Education and Employment Opportunities: Workshops that will focus on job readiness and foster a respectful relationship with the Plainfield Board of Education.

Dr. Henrilynn Ibezim 
1. I am for reasonable tax breaks for developers.
2. The Police department, Churches and community outreach organizations, must unite to examine carefully the root causes of criminal activities, and thereafter find solutions.
3. City leadership must work with the residents in identifying problems, and in very timely manner find solutions to problems. Elected officials must remember that they are servants of the City and not masters. At no time, should elected officials claim a monopoly of knowing what is best for the residents of the City. 

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp 
1. Everyone who does business with The City of Plainfield should pay their fair share. Developed properties contribute significantly more to our tax rolls than before development. For example, the South Avenue Gateway project will generate $10.3 million dollars in taxes during the pilot period. Before development, only $3.5 million was generated.  Each ward in Plainfield has unique needs and challenges. My goal is to improve every area in our City; the areas with the greatest needs will receive the greatest share of our resources.  
2. We have active and ongoing investigations to intercept and shut down the passage of guns into Plainfield. Since I took office in 2014 Police have seized over 130 guns. I plan to continue to push these investigations and work with other law enforcement agencies to enhance our public safety. I plan to develop and improve the recreational facilities around the City in every ward, to provide more meaningful alternatives for our young people. I will continue to seek out and provide job opportunities for our residents. We have held several successful job fairs and succeeded in securing employment for more than 100 people so far. We will develop vocational facilities to provide technical training and career opportunities for our young people who may not see college as their path. Currently, there are several mentoring programs offered through the police department; we plan to grow and add more mentoring opportunities to reach more of our youth. 
3. A) Update and modernize recreational facilities for our young people. B) Improve our roads—we’ve already paved over 18 miles of roadway and the work is ongoing. C) Focus on beautifying Plainfield, improving our common areas and addressing blighted properties.

Councilwoman Bridget B. Rivers 
1. I think in a city like Plainfield where we have been real-estate/development stagnate for a longtime providing incentive to developers is important. Beyond the wards where it is properly zoned we must identify the best businesses based upon community needs, and a feasibility study to determine which business are most attracted for the respected areas. 
2. I will keep pushing gun giveback incentives, and federal intervention to eliminate illegal gun trafficking across state lines. 
3. A) Invest in a state of the art Community Center. B) Develop incentives to attract businesses for economic growth, added jobs/property tax stabilization. C) Promote an initiative to put a face on Plainfield to enhance our business district. 

 City Council Candidates - Biographical Sketches

2nd and 3rd  Wards At-large

 Alma Blanco
     Alma Blanco is a licensed Broker-Sales Associate at Century 21 Louis Pompilio in Scotch Plains, NJ. She has been a licensed realtor since 1995. Alma was born and raised in Plainfield and of Ecuadorian descent. The fall of the housing crisis motivated Alma to become knowledged in the areas of foreclosure counseling, mortgage auditing, loss mitigation, homeowner retention and preservation strategies. Alma served on the Citizen Budget Advisory Board in Plainfield in 2016. She is one of the founders and Executive Board Treasurer to Plainfield Anti-Violence Coalition. She is an outspoken writer for Plainfield Latino.  Alma is also a local community organizer, driven activist on many local issues and advisor on community relations and is passionate about motivating others to succeed and promote empowerment.

 Cameron Cox
     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; 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).
Councilwoman Joylette 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. My travels with People to People to South Africa, China, and Cuba, to exchange ideas and observe classes, has given me a global perspective needed in today’s world. 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. For many years, I have worked diligently to bring about positive and sustainable change in our community. 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. 

4th Ward

Terri Briggs – Biographical Sketch
     Member of Ready to Be Free Ministries Church in Plainfield, NJ.; Spiritual Leader, Weekly Morning Conference Call Prayer Group; Lifelong Resident of Plainfield; Graduate of Plainfield Public Schools; Members for The Responsible Society Club Scholarships for Plainfield High School Students; Member of Plainfield Anti-Violence Coalition; Member of Plainfield’s West 4th Street Block Coalition; Member of Plainfield Save a Life Today Community Organization; Volunteer for Plainfield Local Organizations; Employee for 26 years at the Piscataway Board of Education Truancy Office; 2nd Vice President of Secretaries and Clerks for the Piscataway Local Union.

Steve Hockaday – Biographical Sketch
     Steve Hockaday, a 2004 graduate of Rutgers School of Law, now serves as Assistant County Counsel for the County of Union. Hockaday began his journey at Delaware State University, majoring in English Education. Intricately involved in campus life, he was a Student Organizer and a peer writing tutor. After graduation, he taught language arts to eighth grade students and Upward Bound participants. The constant reinforcement that he provided his students had a profound effect on his personal thoughts and caused him to reflect deeply on how he could fulfill his goal to live a promise-driven life.  His change of career came about as a result of practicing what he preached as teacher and track coach. After two years in the classroom, he decided that a law degree would enable him to extend his service-oriented work from teenagers to the community at large. Former NJ Bar Fellow at Covenant House, a homeless shelter for at risk youth; Former Staff Attorney at Essex-Newark Legal Services where he represents more than 200 clients each year in a variety of matters in trial and appellate courts; Past President of the GSBA, the statewide organization of black lawyers who fight for justice.

Elliott Simmons – Biographical Sketch
     I grew up in Newark, New Jersey. Graduation Class of “65” at Newark Central High School. I was member of the H.S. Fraternity known as Alpha Beta Phi, comprised of high school students from all over the City of Newark. This organization was recognized and honored, by then community activist Donald Payne who later went on to be elected to Congress, for our commitment and involvement to civic responsibility and helping others in the city of Newark and surrounding communities. I began taking classes in Data Processing, now known as Information Technologies, at Rutgers Extension Program in Newark, NJ. I took a job at Bristol Myers Hillside Division and I went on to hold positions at The A & P National Data Center in Piscataway, New Jersey and the City of Newark, where I supervised their Computer Operations Department until 1975. I completed certified courses in Insect and Animals Affecting People, Advanced Termite Control - A Precision Approach, (IPM) Integrated Pest Management – A Scientific Approach to Pest Control and The Workshop In Business Opportunities. Certification given to all completed courses. In September of 1975 I co-founded Simmons & Son Pest Control along with my father Willie Simmons Sr. As certified pest management professionals, we supplied pest management services to Residential, Commercial and Industrial clients throughout the State of New Jersey. Which included more than 2000 units owned by New City Management Builders of Newark, NJ, 48 AT&T Corporate Buildings including their World Head Quarters, Bellcore & Lucent Technologies, Sovereign Banks (all Central & Northern NJ Branches), as well as all locations of White Castle Restaurants located in New Jersey. Simmons & Son also provided pest management services for homeowners and private businesses throughout the State of New Jersey as well. Providing quality professional services with integrity at affordable prices. I became active in Plainfield in the late 70’s getting involved in programs mentoring kids, providing support and the beautification of Plainfield through the planting of trees throughout The City. Volunteering in our schools. Past member of (PEP) Progressive Education for Plainfield, (VIP) Volunteers In Plainfield, Stone Square #38 Masonic Lodge FAM 32nd Degree, Shriner of Golconda Temple #24 Newark, New Jersey and past member of The Trustee Board of Calvary Baptist Plainfield, New Jersey. Elected to Public Office in Plainfield, New Jersey November 2005, 4th Ward Councilman and served until January 2010. Joined the Plainfield YMCA Board of Directors in 2010 where I continue to serve as an active member.

 City Council Candidates- League Questions and Responses

1. If elected, what legacy do you hope to leave by the end of your term? 
2. As a council member, what constituent services would you provide or support?
3. How will you uphold the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches? 
2nd and 3rd  Wards At-large

Alma Blanco – Candidate for 2nd and 3rd Wards At-large
1. I believe tax breaks are good for developers, as long as we are treating fairly first, our current taxpayers, homeowners. We must take care of home first, before we take care of others. Urban design should be considered depending on which ward/area gets developed. According to urban planner/community activist, James Rojas, “The planning process often suffers from a lack of community engagement.” Engaging the community is key on successful local development trends. Input from all community groups will insure the voices of our community are valued. 
2. I have the privilege of being on the forefront of addressing gun violence that has been plaguing our city. I along with other local community activists spearheaded Plainfield AntiViolence Coalition in response to local fatalities that arose from gun violence. I believe the fundamental responsibility for any city or resident is to be a part of the awareness to the issue at hand first and work collaboratively to find solutions. I strongly feel if emphasis was placed on targeted At-risk youth programs, this would deter the young men and women who commit these crimes who do it out of desperation and for those that are lured into the gang culture.
3. A) We need to embrace bipartisanship in city government. Finding common ground amongst differing opinions may be the only way the local democratic party can be salvaged. Until then, no one can claim we are either unified or one. B) I support any initiatives to bring forward a community center that is separately governed from city politics. A true community center should welcome its residents and allow them to be a part of building it up. A community center that can offer arts, culture, dance, afterschool care, tutoring, movie nights, performances, indoor sports, etc. C) I would also like to see arts and culture play a true role in our city. We need to integrate the Latino business community with the rest of our city. Whether it means beautifying storefronts that reflect cultural diversity such as Latino urbanism, implementing plazas/ murals and an area dedicated to street vendors. Our current Latino business community needs to welcome all our residents and those from outside of our city limits. This would greatly improve community relations by embracing all the diversity that Plainfield has to offer.

Cameron Cox – Candidate for 2nd and 3rd Wards At-large
1. Concluding my term, whenever that may be, I hope that my legacy is one that has truly exhibited a path of engagement. It is my goal that one day we will live in a Plainfield that involves the ENTIRE voting age community of our great city. Thus, our elected officials will be indicative of a true illustration of the residents they SERVE, moreover leveling the political field and providing accurate representation of our community’s needs and interests. 
2. As a council member, I would provide services that many elected officials have forgotten, being that of ACCESS. I would not only occupy constituents during the six months prior to an election, but I would continually provide opportunities for engagement. I would provide access through opportunities like quarterly meetings for my constituents to, express to and discuss with me, their ever-evolving community concerns.
3. To assure the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches, I would increase the level of transparency on non-privileged items.  Often times the community loses faith in the way that local government chooses to accomplish tasks at hand.  Regardless of the fact that some items may need to remain privileged information for a specific period of time, once the need for these items to come to fruition arises, the community needs to be properly notified of all aspects and or ramifications surrounding the issue.  This transparency can be better accomplished through the proper flow of shared information within governmental operations.

Councilwoman Joylette Mills-Ransome – Candidate for 2nd and 3rd Wards At-large
1. I would like to leave a legacy that reveals that although I served in a leadership position, I was always aware, and my actions reflected, that my primary role was to serve my constituents. I would like to be remembered as an integral part of an effort that resulted in a multipurpose, multigenerational center designed to serve all residents with an emphasis on programming and activities that bring youth and seniors together. 
2. I will provide the service of listening to the concerns of my constituents and working with the appropriate administrator to resolve any problems. I will advocate for fiscal responsibility by administration and council. I will support the City’s Healthy Living Initiative, senior and youth activities, student internships and workplace readiness programs and initiatives. 
3. Knowledge of the powers given to each branch is where to start with the check portion. I would submit that the use of the powers afforded to administration and council in a manner that protects the rights of the residents addresses the balance portion. While the administration does the day to day work, recommends hires and appointments (with advice and consent of council), prepares the budget, etc., the council must consider the matters brought forth in writing, discuss and vote on these matters in public. 

4th Ward

Terri Briggs – Candidate for 4th Ward
1. At the end of my term as 4th Ward City Council Member, my legacy will include: Establishment of a safe haven for all of our children. There would be a Plainfield Recreation/ Community Center; Increased Community Policing so that all neighborhoods are safer. We have had homicides in Plainfield and families have lost loved ones. Recently, there were two burglaries in our 2nd Ward. These are examples of why I will support increased community policing; Quarterly resource and job fairs to employ our youth and young adults. 
2. As a councilwoman, there will be many quality of life constituent services which I will support. They will include: Shared services initiatives to save taxpayer dollars; Streamlining processes for greater efficiency; Establishing a City Council Office with an opportunity for residents to meet with Council Members by appointment; Advocate for more grant funded community events and workshops; Work with corporation council to establish a resolution to hire more Plainfield residents and Plainfield companies to support our families and economy; Request for council to have an executive session prior to all council meetings, to have discussions and then be prepared to have professional council meetings before the public.
3. In order to have best practices of good government, it is imperative that the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch work together as a cohesive unit. A mutual trust and respect is needed between the City Council, Mayor and administration. There must be an established checks and balances system with total disclosure and timely inclusion regarding city matters. Since both bodies share the city clerk and corporation counsel, there must be an open door policy to receive requested information and explanations when required. This can work if personalities and personal agendas are left at home and everyone remembering that there is a common goal to provide the best possible governance, services for our constituents and stakeholders.

Steve Hockaday – Candidate for 4th Ward
1. At the end of my term, I will be known as a servant who fought at every opportunity for the residents, especially those who have been voiceless. I will be known as someone who engages residents meaningfully and has increased the quality of life for Plainfielders.  
2. Constituent services that I’d support and provide include increased educational opportunities for our youth such as coding, STEM and other cutting-edge skills that will ready our children for tomorrow’s workforce. I will also forge partnerships with non-profits and civic minded businesses to reduce unemployment, taxes and recidivism.
 3. I’d uphold the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches by evaluating the executive agenda through the lens of what is in the best interest of residents. My core values center around ensuring that legislative decisions are made to improve the lives of others rather than to pursue or protect personal political gain.

Elliott Simmons – Candidate for 4th Ward
1. A councilman that understands the needs of The City of Plainfield and its citizens and executes on their behalf. 
2. Provide cleaner, safer streets, promoting the welfare of our citizens and our City. Provide strong leadership by serving all the citizens of Plainfield while focusing on the needs of my Ward. 
3. By focusing on the laws & ordinances that are on our books and applying them across the board. Our City Government should be effective for all the citizen of our City. There is no right or wrong time to step up…….What matters is, that you do.

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