Blog for Highland Park

Welcome to the Blog for Highland Park, a weblog chronicling events in Highland Park, NJ from an alternative perspective to the often one-sided slant of the official borough newsletter.

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Location: Highland Park, New Jersey, United States

I am a freelance writer and community activist who has worked on many progressive and Democratic political campaigns over the last 25 plus years and a lifelong resident of Highland Park, NJ. I have a BA in Journalism from Rutgers University, an MA in Middle East Studies from Harvard University, and an MEd in English Education from Rutgers Graduate School of Education. An enthusiastic amateur astronomer, I have just completed Swinburne University Astronomy Online's Graduate Certificate of Science in astronomy and am pursuing a Masters of Science in astronomy at Swinburne. I am also an actress with experience in theatre and film and have written a full length play. I am currently working full time on a book "The Little Planet That Would Not Die: Pluto's Story."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Vote of No Confidence

The embarrassingly low number of votes received by Mayor Frank in the November 6 election, both in comparison with the total voter turnout in town and in comparison with the total number of registered voters cannot be read as anything other than a clear vote of no confidence in this mayor.

A total of 2,468 Highland Park residents out of about 8,000 registered in town went to the polls two weeks ago. Yet out of that total, Frank received only 1,622 votes, or 846 less than the total turnout. That amounts to a lot of people who took the time to vote but wouldn't press the button for her. Her numbers were lower than those of her council running mates, Jon Erickson, who received 1,670 votes and Fern Goodhart, who received 1,654 votes.

Interestingly, all three local candidates received lower numbers than they did in the June primary, something practically unheard of, even in heavily Democratic Highland Park. In contrast, local Democratic candidates in general elections typically receive 2,700 to 2,900 votes. In 2003, Frank received 1,961 compared with Jeff Orbach's 791.

Also, in stark contrast, the four ballot questions and the county and state races all generated about 2,100 or 2,200 votes. It appears more people came out for the questions than they did for the local candidates.

Highland Park also set a record for the unusually large number of write-in votes for mayor and council: 145 for mayor and 94 for council. The list of vote getters is downright amusing. I campaigned for A. Ficus, not for myself, but received eight write-ins for mayor and one for council, easily beating Mickey Mouse, Homer Simpson, Donald Duck, Darth Vader, Santa Claus, the Devil, and a host of other names, coming in second only to Nancy Wolf and A. Ficus. A very special thanks to the nine people who wrote my name in even though I did not ask for it.

In the council race, the top write-ins were Michael Kornfeld, George Valenta, and A. Ficus plus a host of many other names.

All joking aside, 2007 is not good news for Frank. Sometimes, things appear one way on the surface but turn out exactly the opposite once one looks deeper. George W. Bush might have won both the 2000 and 2004 presidential races, but has been unsuccessful in implementing major pieces of his vision including Social Security privatization, oil drilling in the Arctic national wildlife reserve, or bringing about desired results in Iraq. In contrast, Al Gore, viewed as the "loser" in 2000, has had tremendous success in implementing his vision of raising public consciousness about global warming and initiating a paradigm change in how we view our interaction with the environment.

Highland Park's voters have shown a stunning lack of confidence in Frank and a deep desire for different leadership. That is the legacy of 2007. Those of us who seek new leadership have spent this year successfully planting the seeds of change. Like all the natural world at this time of year, those seeds will for a while be unseen and dormant, but like all seeds, in only a matter of time, they will germinate and emerge into a new cycle of life.

Victory delayed is NOT victory denied.