MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Dean Dafis has lead an inspired life that brought him to be a resident activist in Maplewood, and to run for the Maplewood Township Committee.
Dafis, who is originally from Philadelphia, studied at Temple University then went on to earn a law degree from the University of Richmond. Dafis is now the managing director of the Artemis Group in Midtown Manhattan. Comprised of only five employees, the group is a legal search firm that places attorneys in a wide range of positions.
“Temple was a great culture to be a part of during college,” said Dafis. “It was really enriching to grow up in such a rich, diverse population.”
Dafis settled in Maplewood two years ago after living in New York City for almost two decades. His careers have ranged from serving as a public defender in Richmond, VA, to working for J.P. Morgan Chase in New York.
“I’ve really gone from one extreme to the other,” said Dafis. “I was a court attorney visiting clients in jails,and then I went to work on Wall Street at the heart of the business world.”
As a Maplewood commuter, Dafis said he truly values everything the town has to offer. He met Frank McGehee standing on the train platform, and he ultimately became the campaign manager for McGehee’s successful Maplewood Township Committee run last year.
“Local government requires moral courage,” said Dafis. “Now more than ever it’s important to focus on governing for the benefit of people over special interests.”
Dafis is sharing a line on the ballot with Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca. With two openings on the Maplewood Township Committee, both candidates received the Democratic nomination. Dafis commented that it is a privilege to run beside De Luca, and that Mayor De Luca has always been encouraging of bringing new leadership into the town.
“As the first LGBT candidate to run for the committee, it was important to run with Vic since he was always so outspoken about marriage equality,” said Dafis. “There are new voices in town and I see myself as part of that new wave of leadership.”
Greater equity and representation of the diverse population in Maplewood is a central aspect of Dafis’s campaign. He said that diversity is part of Maplewood’s identity, but he also feels like true inclusion for that diversity in all committees and boards in the town has yet to come to fruition.
“We need to address discrimination in our schools, and we need to build better bonds between our community and police department,” said Dafis. “We also need to strive for greater transparency and communication for everyone, everywhere.”
Dean Dafis and Vic De Luca will both be on the ballot for the Democratic primary election on June 6.
Michael Summersgill is the only candidate in the Republican primary election, which is also taking place on June 6.