SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Deputy Mayor Michael “Mickey” Marcus, who successfully ran for Scotch Plains Township Council in 2010 on the Democratic ticket, will attempt something that has not been done before: to hold onto his council seat after switching parties.
“If people have followed what I’ve done in the past 3 ½ years, they know my interest is doing what is best for the town,” Marcus said in an exclusive interview at the offices of The Alternative Press of Scotch Plains-Fanwood. “I’ve always considered myself independent, but to be elected you need to be affiliated with one of the two major parties.”
“For me, it felt like a better fit to join the Republicans,” Marcus added. “The people in the party are supportive and have shown confidence in me. I felt it would enable me to best serve Scotch Plains if I made the switch.”
Marcus said he has a respectful working relationship with Mayor Kevin Glover, a Democrat, with whom he has recently had sharp disagreements at recent Council meetings. At a recent meeting, he discussed the possibility of returning the town to the pre-1998 system of having the Council choose the mayor, rather than holding a direct election for the position.
“In government, you have agreements and disagreements with everyone. What’s important is to work around your differences to do what’s best for the town,” said Marcus, who is currently the council’s liaison to the Recreation Department and the Seniors Advisory Committee and previously the liaison to the Board of Education.
Marcus knows the school system well, having attended Evergreen School, Park Junior High (as it was called at the time), and Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, where he graduated in 1978. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Fairleigh Dickinson and earned his law degree from Emory University in Atlanta. He had his wife, Shari, have raised two children, Mitch and Amanda, who were both educated in the public school system.
“This is a great place to live. Our biggest issue is keeping the town affordable while maintaining services. Having the opportunity to serve the residents of Scotch Plains on the Town Council is something that I take great pride and satisfaction in doing,” explained Marcus, a former municipal prosecutor in both the borough of Fanwood and in Scotch Plains, who now runs his own law practice in South Plainfield.
Marcus’s running mates in 2014 will be Republican incumbents Bo Vastine and Llewellyn Jones.
Since moving to Scotch Plains seven years ago with his wife, Florence, and two children, Bo Vastine has been a member of the Scotch Plains Republican Committee. He was elected to the Township Council in 2010, has twice served on the Planning Board, and has twice been the liaison to the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition. In 2012, Vastine served as Deputy Mayor for a six-month period.
More recently, Vastine has led efforts to create the "Business District Development Committee," an ad hoc subcommittee created to work on a plan for meaningful improvements to downtown Scotch Plains. He has fought to restore the library budget so that it can resume the previous 7 day a week schedule.
“The reason I ran for the Scotch Plains Township Council four years ago, and the reason I am running again this year, is that I believe these difficult times require unique leadership,” Vastine said. “The economic difficulties that we face require tough decisions made in a responsible way. That’s why it is extremely important for Mickey, Llewellyn and I to be re-elected. A swing of even one vote on the Council will lead to a return to the mismanagement we witnessed last year.”
The newest member of the Council, Llewellyn Jones won election in November 2013 by defeating Lou Beckerman to fulfill an unexpired term. Jones and his wife, Bridget, moved to Scotch Plains five years ago, and have three young children, the oldest of whom has just started in the public school system.
A finance professional, Jones is co-founder of Qtrade Capital Partners LLC, based in Westfield. Previously, he was a vice president at Goldman Sachs. He holds a B.A. degree in Economics and Mathematics from Kenyon College, and a M.S. degree in Computational Finance from Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to his service on the Council, he served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, is a trustee of the Scotch Plains Senior Housing Corporation, is active at his church and volunteers as a youth soccer coach.
Alexander Smith, Chairman of the Scotch Plains Republican Committee said of the ticket: “I am proud that we are putting forward a slate of experienced public servants that will continue to provide responsible, effective leadership to guide Scotch Plains for the next four years. Having Deputy Mayor Marcus join our team is good news for the citizens of Scotch Plains. Over the past four years, he has demonstrated his good judgment in making the right decisions for Scotch Plains.”