It must be election season in Garwood, because we have the inevitable "spin" of Bruce Paterson making its appearance on the editorial page. I will respond, point by point, with actual facts, to last week’s letter.
Sara Todisco is an elected member of the so called “insider committee” elected every two years by registered Garwood Democrats referred to by Mr. Patterson. It is a position she holds in addition to being on the Council. This committee is the official Garwood Regular Democratic Party (referred to as the "City Committee"). This Committee selects a Chair, who represents the Garwood Democratic Party on its behalf. These elected positions, for which anyone who declares a party affiliation may run, exist for the very purpose of selecting candidates for our local offices on behalf of the voters. This is the same process employed throughout our representative democracy, where we vote for individuals to represent us from towns to Washington DC.
The committee process is how declared voters in Garwood (and most towns in New Jersey) exercise "choice" over candidates for office. Ms. Todisco was endorsed by this “insider committee” (against which Mr. Patterson now rants) for each of her Council terms and has also been financially supported by the “insiders” in the past.
Contrary to Mr. Patterson’s statement, no vote of the Democratic Club was taken to gauge support for Ms. Todisco's actions. The only floor vote related to the primary election was if the membership wanted to put club meetings on hold until after June 5th. This motion carried by a 23-12 vote, with Ms. Todisco and “her people” outvoted in their wish to keep to the Club's regular meeting schedule. I am unsure if this is what Mr. Paterson was told is "support" for Ms. Todisco by a “majority of the Democratic Club” as he is not a member and was not present for this vote.
Next, we have a classic Mr. Paterson rant about the "county machine", during which he states I could be influenced through my employment. I am a career civil servant, with permanent status in a classified title. A classified employee may not be suspended, demoted or discharged without "just cause" after due process of law. No one could act against my employment for off duty political actions or service on the Borough Council (should I be elected) without violating state law. This could equally be applied to any member of any Council who is anything other than self-employed, or retired, and who also presumably did not have a mind of their own. Any employer could seek to influence an employee holding public office, provided they had no fear of consequences or public exposure for doing so. Mr. Paterson's comments on this topic are offensive and disingenuous, but that reflects his usual demeanor towards those with whom he politically disagrees.
As to Mr. Patterson’s comment about people switching parties, he misses Mr. Nierstedt’s point. It is not that anyone switched parties, it is about timing and integrity. The whole time Sara Todisco was voting on the city committee for Jennyfer Guerrero and me, she knew that one of her running mates was switching parties to run with her on a separate slate. That is not integrity.
Seventeen years ago, Bill Nierstedt did run a primary challenge against the Regular Democratic Party after openly advising the Garwood City Committee. He did not utilize donations made to another campaign to give himself a financial advantage out of the gate. He did not hide his intentions until the last minute to put his primary opponents on the defensive. He did not gather information on candidates he fully intended to oppose by sitting on the elected committee interviewing them for nominations. He did not cast votes supporting candidates while knowing who would be on his line to run against them. Bill did, one day, run with the endorsement of the Regular Democratic Party. Why? Because he acted with integrity and was upfront about what he was going to do.
Finally, if Mr. Paterson's assertions regarding Ms. Todisco's motives for running “off the line” are true; that Ms. Todisco now claims to be against his so-called “machine” after her many years of service on the Council, the City Committee and a County advisory board, I have two questions. Why submit to the City Committee at all for the Mayor’s position, and if she had won that City Committee vote would any of this even be happening now?
Regular Democratic Party of Garwood