As she gave hugs and shook hands following last week’s Cedarbrook Block Association Meeting, Third Ward Councilwoman Gloria Taylor wasn’t shy about voicing her opinion on being “set up.” She had been taken by surprise by the New Democrats’ announcement of Charles McRae as their Candidate for Mayor Mapp’s unexpired Third Ward City Council seat.
The meeting was billed as a discussion about issues in the Third Ward, primarily Muhlenberg Hospital. That’s how it was presented to Taylor, a former first lady of Plainfield, as well. “I was told it was a meeting of the councilors and the constituents. That was it,” expressed Mrs. Taylor to Plainfield View. “I was told that they wanted to get to know me. That’s how informal it was.”
Mrs. Taylor spoke after Mayor Mapp, but before Second and Third Ward Councilwoman Rebecca Williams. You can hear her remarks below. While Taylor did make it abundantly clear that she intended to run to keep her seat, what she said could hardly be considered a campaign speech. She didn’t attack anyone, though she respectfully showed disagreement with Adrian Mapp concerning “carpetbaggers,” or the waiver of residency requirements for city positions. If you’ve attended meetings this year and understand the bad blood between the two factions on our City Council, from everything from fumbled budgets, to Legal Shield, to property taxes, to PMUA, to the police department – I could go on – you know this was a very minor criticism.
When Rebecca Williams spoke shortly afterwards, she took the opportunity to introduce McRae as her running mate. McRae also serves as the Vice President of the Cedarbrook Block Association who hosted the event. “I thought it was a real conflict, the fact that the Vice President who presided over the meeting and told me what to do turns around and introduces himself as a candidate,” says Taylor. “That’s self serving.”
Mr. McRae’s speech was more politically charged and confrontational than Gloria Taylor’s. You can be the judge. The video, which I posted the night of the event, can be found below.
As you may expect, Rebecca Williams was on the defensive on Bernice’s comment section, defending her decision to introduce Mr. McRae. “I didn’t realize that there would be campaign-style speechifying until Cedarbrook Association President Dan Manson used the word ‘candidate’ as he welcomed us,” says Williams. “After the councilwoman spoke and made a direct announcement and pitch for herself, I figured I would do so as well at the top of the meeting.”
Frankly, I find an attempt to portray these events as impromptu rather silly. Blaming Mr. Manson is a convenient cover, but shouldn’t we consider the possibility that he called the speakers “candidates” because his own Vice President informed him that he was running and might be making such an announcement? It’s certainly possible that their plans pre-empted his minor error in introductions. Regardless of that, being called a “candidate” doesn’t give you the right to make partisan campaign announcements at a community meeting.
Secondly, regarding Gloria Taylor’s overstated “direct announcement and pitch for herself,” there is an inherent advantage to being an incumbent in any election. You are invited to speak as an elected official and have make vague references towards your upcoming race. That’s the way it works – always has. Just because Gloria Taylor – as part of a non-confrontational speech, mind you – implied that she’d be running doesn’t give someone who holds no political office the right of way to use their status as Vice President of the hosting Block Association and ally to another elected official to their own advantage. Additionally, on her Facebook page, Rebecca Williams also explained her reasons for introducing a candidate. There, she made no mention of Gloria Taylor’s pitch as a factor, only using the silly “Manson made me do it” defense. Interesting.
“I think it was awful,” concluded Gloria Taylor.
At the end of the day, one announcement does not come close to determining any election. But Mrs. Taylor does have a point.