CHATHAM, NJ - The campaign slogan is "Chatham Matters" and 80-year-old James W. Clyde Jr. was canvassing on his own behalf at the Chatham Farmers' Market on Saturday in his run for a spot on the Borough of Chatham Council.
Clyde, the self-proclaimed "Mayor of Carmine Street," is running on a ticket with fellow Democrat Thaddeus Kobylarz. Both Clyde and Kobylarz gained a spot on the ballot during the June 2 primary with Democrat write-in ballots.
They'll be opposing incumbent Republicans Victoria Fife and James Collander for the two three-year positions on the Borough of Chatham Council.
James Clyde got the idea to run for borough council when he went to a February meeting on the new town master plan. According to Clyde, one of the ideas talked about at the meeting was to build apartments and a parking garage near the location where the 150-year-old Scarlett Oak currently stands.
"I went to the meeting in February and that was one of the things they talked about," Clyde said. "They're turning us into South Orange or one of the communities that takes away the open space and puts in a parking lot."
Rozella Clyde, a former educator from Queens, N.Y., moved to Chatham when she married James Clyde, a 44-year resident of Chatham. She is running as a Democrat for Morris County Freeholder along with Mitch Horn and John Van Achen.
"We listened to what Bernie (Sanders) said about getting locally involved," Rozella Clyde said. "We looked around and said there aren't any Democrats running here in Chatham. There are more Independents registered in Chatham than there are Republicans or Democrats. Independents should have a voice."
Clyde made his decision to run when he saw the sample ballot with no Democrats on it. He started talking to Kobylarz and "we made the decision simultaneously. I called friends who were Democrats and visited a couple to get their votes."
"I'm trying to tell people, to me, that Chatham comes first," Clyde said. "Having lived in Chatham for such a long time, I became the Mayor of Carmine Street years ago. I became an unofficial welcomer in my neighborhood. We really haven't had a Democratic voice for a while. The main message is bipartisanship."
In addition to her own campaign for Freeholder, Rozella Clyde also serves as her husband's campaign manager.
"Republicans tend to look at what it costs and Democrats tend to look at who it serves," Rozella Clyde said. "Democrats are a little bit more concerned about the impact on people, whereas Republicans are a little more concerned about what the taxpayers are going to think. So we're concerned about both, but the balance is a little shifted. If you have one party ruling for such a long time it becomes more like a club."