I want to thank all of our volunteers, Ward 3 voters, local businesses and the people of Hawthorne for their support of our campaign! As an Independent Green Party candidate, I knew we would face challenges and have to work to overcome objections. We ran a clean-transparent campaign, open to communication on every platform: Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram; conveyed a positive message; made a full-fledged website; designed descriptive materials and crafted a platform that could be embraced by everyone: the “Green Vision & Future” plan is a truly Tri-Partisan one! I knew that our Ward needed more voices and choices since the race last term was unopposed. So since day one, this has been a three way race!
We focused our attention on local small businesses by hosting fun and engaging events, from our Tag N’ Sip at Strange Moon Creative Shop-Rebel Child Designs to raise awareness on environmental issues, to our Voter Registration Drive with the Passaic County Greens at Billy’s Midway. Many local businesses posted our flyer to register to vote in a new and fun way. Our town is a gem, so I must also thank some of our fine dining establishments that helped feed our supporters: Fat Moe’s, El Gallo and Andy’s Corner. Tom and the staff at Andy’s Corner were very cordial and patient with our team as we hosted our weekend recap Breakfast Meetings on Sundays and our Coffee With Craig: Q&A there last week. I, like everyone else in town, am saddened by its sudden closure.
We collaborated with the Passaic County Greens and Strange Moon Creative Shop-Rebel Child Designs to host a donation drive for those displaced by the fire at Straight and Narrow in Paterson. I publicly commented to thank Mayor Goldberg, the administration, council and the Municipal Alliance Committee for getting involved and collecting items, as well.
Thanks to the media: InsiderNJ featured our statement Cayetano For Council Announces 1700+ Doors Touched in Ward 3 & Campaign Endorsements! Video endorsements on Facebook had an amazing impact. They showcased current elected officials, former candidates, candidates this year and of course Hawthorne Ward 3 residents! Thanks also go to TAPinto Hawthorne, The Gazette and Hawthorne Press for their coverage of our campaign.
As our campaign went door to door and to businesses we heard people’s concerns and understood that there might be a long road ahead in making the town aware of the importance of our campaign. As an Independent Green Party candidate, we are automatically the underdog. I planned to visit the whole Ward at least once and in some cases, 2-3 trips back to talk to constituents who were still evaluating us. The hurdle was trying to convince them to believe in our message and then come out to vote. I think we succeeded, since they started to see that this was a Tri-Partisan race and that any one of us could win.
So it was very disheartening to read an article about the election assuming that votes belong to any one person or party. Obviously, this is a fallacy. It is called “vote shaming” and is spread by some people or certain parties after they lose races because they cannot admit to mistakes they made during their own campaigns. You don’t ever hear anyone blaming Libertarians for participating in democracy, so then why are Greens constantly slammed for this? If I ended up with the 353 votes, but still lost, would I respond by labeling the other candidate this way? No, because votes are earned not guaranteed or owned by any one person or party. This is especially true in a race that four years prior had no challengers. This was an open Tri-Partisan race to try to bring discouraged people back to the polls and vote!
As I mentioned earlier, Independent candidates have to work 2-3 times harder to earn these voters' trust and respect. We also have to work hard to move people to look down the ballot since the main parties always fight for the top “A or B Row” by filling in their lines. This automatically equates to extra votes. Our team worked extra hard to point out our ballot location with messaging and visuals to “Vote Row C for Craig.”
I’m proud of the message, communication, vision and platform in our campaign. That’s what led many Independents, Republicans and Democrats to support us. Naturally, I made mistakes, which I’m happy to admit. It was a learning experience. I honestly feel we all have lessons to learn from the low 26.02% turnout for the next election.
One way is to work toward adopting Ranked Choice Voting here in New Jersey. We currently have two bills in the state assembly, A1801 and A5205. One addresses local races and the other the larger gubernatorial, congressional, senatorial and presidential ones. This voting technique would eliminate the “spoiler argument” since voters would rank all the candidates that appear on the ballot instead of picking just one. Maine has led the charge to adopting this, increasing voter turnout and support, as have a lot of cities across the country. Other states are working to adopt RCV in the next 1-2 years. NYC just passed it for their citywide primary races on November 5th. It actually saves cities and states money. It acts as its own runoff election and allows people that felt disenfranchised to come back to the political process. They can vote for a candidate they align ideally with first, then their backup second and maybe the one they dislike third. Candidates are knocked out round by round until there is a 50+1 majority in a single seat race or a 33+1 majority in a dual seat race like the state assembly. It’s something I am personally working on here in New Jersey. I’ll happily share more about this in the upcoming weeks.
Finally, I congratulate Gary Sinning and wish him the best this term. I’m offering him my time, knowledge and perspective to work with him, the administration and incoming council, not only as a member of Hawthorne’s Green Team, but as a regular citizen, to try and address some of the concerns we all have in Ward 3 and Hawthorne. When I announced my candidacy, I promised to be an advocate for everyone. Just because the outcome wasn’t what I had hoped it would be, it won’t dissuade me from trying to improve our community. I’m blessed to have had 171 people show their faith in me by voting for and supporting us. I wanted this to be a serious campaign, fun and engaging. I’ve made many friends this year, which I’m proud of and will work to show them why their vote was worthwhile and that we still won! Thank You, All!