PLAINFIELD, NJ - John Stewart, Jr. submitted a letter of resignation from his position as Plainfield Chief of Staff to Mayor Adrian O. Map on Monday afternoon, a position he has held since January 2014, citing a lack of transparency in government.
Stewart said Mapp was "clearly agitated" during the meeting after all that has transpired in the past 48 hours, referencing emails from two key members of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee being circulated disapproving of Mapp's support of New Jersey Senator Nicholas P. Scutari for Union County Democratic Chairman. TAPinto Plainfield has obtained copies of these emails.
Mary Burgwinkle, Treasurer of the PDCC and a key donor, had sent her email to the membership on Saturday, Jan. 27 saying, "I am sad and disappointed that PDCC Chair Mapp endorsed Nick Scutari for Union County Democratic Chair, in advance of calling a PDCC or Executive Committee meeting to discuss this important matter. Making unilateral endorsements is disrespectful of our elected membership, and gives the impression that we all intend to vote for the endorsed candidate."
She added, "I am also sad and disappointed because I believe that UCDC First Vice Chair Colleen Mahr deserves to be UCDC Chair. She is a hard worker and, as Mayor of Fanwood, understands Plainfield and has helped our city whenever she can. Colleen as Chair would be progress for Plainfield, in my opinion. In this Year of the Woman, it is sickening to me that Union County men are engaging in back room politics to pass her over, once again, rather than supporting her for Chair. If Colleen is nominated, I intend to vote for Colleen."
Later that day, Mapp responded by email, stating, "I respect your views and your position but I have to always put Plainfield first. I cannot and will not support those who think that Plainfield should not have a seat in Trenton. I will speak to all PDCC members at the same time with the facts about what drove my decision. I would hope that when I speak to the group that they would see clearly that there are those who pretend to be friends of Plainfield yet would be very comfortable with the 3rd largest city in the county, the 35th largest in the state not having a seat at the table. That is where I draw the line. It’s about Plainfield, not about Colleen."
Earlier today Sean McKenna, 4th Vice-Chair of the PDCC, sent an email to the membership stating his dissatisfaction with Mapp's endorsement of Scutari as well.
"I am a supporter of Chairman Mapp and proud of the success he has had as Mayor. I have happily given hundreds of hours of my time and walked hundreds of miles to support PDCC candidates. But like you, my commitment to Plainfield and the PDCC does not mean that I am a rubber stamp for approving backroom, non-transparent deals that effect the independence of our city and county. Deals that can have repercussions we will all suffer with for years."
McKenna pointed out Scutari "is unknown to the vast majority of us because he is rarely (if ever), seen in our city. A city that provided him with over a third of his 2017 primary votes, and over 25% of his general election votes. Now we are asked to support him for UCDC chair over a dedicated and immensely qualified neighbor and friend of Plainfield, Colleen Mahr. So a person who has taken the votes of Plainfield for granted is suddenly our best friend? Nick Scutari has not earned our support."
McKenna concluded his email, throwing his support behind Mahr for County Chair and Derek Armstead for Vice-Chair. "I would rather move forward as a proud city with a large voting bloc than associate with a group that will just expand their power and relegate us, again, to a subservient position."
According to Stewart, "it’s not what I wanted for Plainfield. We’re going back to the old days of just, decisions being made in backroom deals and it was supposed to be an open, transparent government, and a political party that wanted the best for Plainfield. And I just feel like it’s going back to a lack of communication."
Stewart added, with respect to Mapp, "I don’t know what he’s thinking. Because he’s not saying anything. He’s not saying anything to anyone.”
As of press time, TAPinto Plainfield did not receive a response from Mayor Mapp or Plainfield's Corporation Counsel to comment on the situation.
The PDCC is scheduled to meet at 31 Watchung Ave. on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 10 a.m. The meeting is open to the public.