As a 26-year-old Scotch Plains resident who cares more about the well-being of our town than about local politics, I am extremely disappointed that the Scotch Plains Democratic Committee leadership has decided to abandon Colleen Mahr in her run for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee.
Mahr, who as Mayor of Fanwood for 15 years has worked closely with Scotch Plains administrations of both parties on shared services that have benefited both of our communities, does not deserve this treatment, considering how beloved she is within both of our communities, and how much time and effort she has given to bettering them.
What is to be gained by throwing Mahr under the bus like this, and why is it being done in such an underhanded manner? Ten previously vacant seats on the Scotch Plains Democratic Committee have been filled since this race began, solely to cast their vote for Mahr’s challenger. Is this really the behavior we want from one of the political parties that will claim to have our best interests at heart this November?
Next door in Plainfield, Mayor Adrian Mapp also tried to compel his party not to support Mahr, a move which resulted in his own Committee rebelling against him, and the resignation of his Chief of Staff. Like the brave Committee members who stood up to Mayor Mapp, I have experienced first-hand Mahr’s engagement and support of the Plainfield Democrats at events. Like many other local residents both there and here, I personally have never seen her challenger Nick Scutari until now.
This week, unpopular former Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover and former Assemblywoman Linda Stender have also come out supporting Nick Scutari. Stender, who was given a $90,000 a year job with the Union County Improvement Authority after being pressured to resign from the Assembly over a scandal involving Habitat for Humanity, is clearly paying back the organization that hired her. And Mr. Glover, who hasn’t been seen or heard by anyone in town since his 2016 defeat by Al Smith, suddenly pops up from out of nowhere, demanding that Mahr withdraw pictures of them working together to bring the one-seat ride to the Raritan Valley Line. He once boasted of their joint accomplishments and of their great working relationship as Mayors. What could have changed in the 15 months he has been out of power in town?
My stance on this issue is simple. I know right from wrong, and Scutari and his allies are on the wrong side of history here. If Nick Scutari is elected, he will reward patronage, she won’t. He wants an open vote to make voters intimidated, she wants a closed one to make them feel safe. He has already put in his former Chief of Staff as the County Manager. This pattern will only continue.
As the current Vice Chair of the party and a popular Mayor for 15 years, Colleen Mahr has paid her dues, earned the peoples’ trust, and left a track record of success. The Chairperson of the UCDC is a powerful role that decides the direction of the party, and which candidates get supported and funded. Our Township will be affected by this vote, and we as residents do not have a say. At the very least, I believe we should be informed, and that is the goal of this letter.
Scotch Plains, NJ