DEAN DAFIS - DEMOCRAT FOR MAPLEWOOD TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE
PROGRESSIVE IDEAS & GREATER EQUITY FOR A STRONGER COMMUNITY
Equity in services, representation, education, enforcement, and prosperity = stronger community
Skilled negotiation = effective governing
Building consensus through collaboration = success at any level
WHY AM I RUNNING
I’m running to achieve greater institutional equity in Maplewood, negotiate better for our town, professionalize our processes, build greater consensus, foster greater transparency and community engagement, and to unite our divided community into one Maplewood for all of us. Our community’s progressive values are being threatened by a national regressive conservative agenda. And, our growth has been stunted by a legacy of doing things a certain way for a very long time which has resulted in inequality, inefficiencies, and divided us into several Maplewoods. I’m uniquely qualified, both personally and professionally, to meet the challenges that lie ahead for us as a community, and to meet the demands of the office I am seeking - the legislative, executive, and administrative duties of the office. I feel a deep sense of duty to serve and protect the real unique treasure that Maplewood is – in all of its vibrant and rich history, culture, and diversity – the community that welcomed George and me so warmly over two and a half years ago – and I’m inspired by every Maplewoodian’s strong pride and engaging spirit to build upon our successes and help us become a truly integrated and inclusive community. In the short time that I lived here, I have already demonstrated a real commitment to the success of this community through active and substantive civic engagement, including serving as a Trustee on the Community Coalition on Race, a Library Foundation Board Member, a Green Team Advisory Committee Member, and as a member of several social justice advocacy groups (Soma Action, Soma Justice, Soma LGBT, and others).
I have the necessary empathy to lead and professional experience to get things done. As the first-born son of Greek immigrants, I know what it’s like to not have a seat at the table, to struggle with assimilation while preserving your own culture and identity, to climb the ladder of economic prosperity, to struggle to thrive as a small local business owner in a competitive market. As a gay man who came of age during the early days of AIDS, survived conversion therapy, and helped win marriage equality, I know what it’s like to be marginalized, profiled, discriminated against with bias, and I know how to build consensus, advocate, bridge gaps in understanding, and bring people together. As a Legal Aid attorney early in my career, I experienced the vast inequities and bias in our criminal justice system and fought for reform. As an attorney on Wall Street working in massive financial fraud cases worth billions of dollars, I navigated complex laws and regulations, took testimony in and out of court, managed attorneys and support staff, worked on budgets and financial disclosures, and drafted voluminous legal documents. As a neighborhood association volunteer over ten years in Manhattan, I’ve worked with city officials and various stakeholders on mixed use development, zoning, affordable housing, quality of life issues, public safety, and safer and more complete streets. As a former board member of a business improvement district, I worked on even and sustainable economic development and local business support. As a civil rights advocate, I’ve lobbied elected officials, helped draft legislation, and mobilized thousands of people around the country. As a hiring and staffing professional (currently) I can bring my expertise in building work cultures that are transparent, collegial, truly meritocratic, and inclusive to our police department’s reboot and fire departments consolidation.
WHAT I WANT TO DO / FOCUS ON
I’m not just another Democrat running on the Party line or riding the coat tails of my running mate. I have a distinct and substantive vision for our future and an agenda that distinguish me from my Republican opponent and my running mate.
- Greater institutional equity – in access to services; affordability (focus on senior housing, affordable housing set asides, repurposing vacant or abandoned buildings into affordable housing, adopt reasonable home-sharing legislation for our seniors, lobby our state reps for senior tax rebate increases, shared services with neighboring towns (fire dept merger); economic development (focus on Springfield Avenue and surrounding area for commercial development, pedestrian accommodations, walkability, local business support campaigns, professionalize the development process all around via an advisory development committee comprised of volunteer members in the community who are subject matter experts in land use, zoning, financial analysts, architects, builders, etc, who can advise as to initial pro formas before deals get negotiated and sent to the planning board for approval; public safety in building a progressive law enforcement agency that reflects the nature of our community and rebuilds trust in our policing via better training for our officers, community policing, a citizens review advisory committee, and best practices in hiring and staffing; pedestrian safety continuing to implement the findings of a recent pedestrian safety summit; schools – the racial disparities and inequities in our schools reflect out community’s inequities; establish a school advisory committee to work closely with the school board; lobby our state reps for our fair share in school funding and other aid
- Redo our Master Plan of Development with significant community input/collaboration to reflect the changing nature of our community
- Establish a transportation advisory committee to liaise with NJTransit officials and our state reps
- Establish term limits on Township Committee service; elevate the Committee
- Meet our Maplewood-is-Green sustainability pledge
- Rebuild our neighborhood associations into one unified network
- Make history as Maplewood’s first elected LGBT on the TC
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER THAN WE ARE ALONE; JOIN ME!