FLEMINGTON, NJ - Flemington Borough Councilman Michael Harris has announced he will not be seeking re-election in the 2020 elections.
His decision not to run for another council term was made public on July 7, Primary Day.
“What I did in 2017 was petitioned to be included on the November ballot [as an Independent], and petitions are due to the county clerk no later than the close of business on Primary Day,” said Harris, confirming that his decision – at least for this year – was final.
In a written statement he explained, "With much consideration, I have decided not to seek re-election this year, and instead look forward to information from the party-sponsored candidates."
Looking back at his time in public office, Harris noted, “It started with an education campaign. I have never considered myself a politician.”
“In 2017, residents were eager for information and many invited me into their homes and welcomed answers to their questions,” he added. "I share my ideas, rationale and vision with consistency, not parsing out different messaging to seek approval.”
As one voice on the six-member council, Harris said he struggled to make a difference.
“I laid out a road map in 2018,” he said. “I never took a historical position. I always went by the numbers. I filled a void as a voice of reason, but nothing has changed. So it’s time to pass the mantle onto others. I did my part as a member of this community.”
Harris was often a lone voice on the council, voting against the council’s mostly unanimous support of Mayor Betsy Driver. And while he won’t be returning in January, he still plans to keep vigilant for Flemington taxpayers.
“In the next five months, I’ll be asking the hard questions,” he said.
Initially, Harris said, he supported Driver for mayor, but he explained, “there needs to be checks and balances.”
“Without a strong council to keep the balance of power as intended by state law, Mayor Driver will continue to make backroom deals and abuse her power which she takes from you, spend our tax dollars without proper authorization and, worse, divide our community rather than heal it,” Harris said.
He added that disagreement is healthy and promotes better decisions.
“In 2018, I identified the key points needed for negotiating our Main Street redevelopment and the Flemington Democratic Committee, then wrote that I have ‘Flemington’s best interest as [my] primary concern,’” he said. “In 2019, I had the honor of serving as council president during Betsy Driver’s first year as mayor. It was a challenging year for the borough council, and we curbed much of the new mayor’s wasteful and politically motivated spending. The candidates will now need to define how they will lead and I wish them well.”
He ended saying, “Flemington Borough is a wonderful community, full of potential. “