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."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Write In Protest for Mayor

An election that offers the choice of only one candidate is never representative of true democracy. Unfortunately, that is the "choice" Highland Park voters face in this year's mayoral race on Tuesday, November 6.

Instead of staying home out of apathy, many in town are choosing to voice their unhappiness with the lack of choice, and in some cases,with the policies of the current administration, by casting a write in vote for mayor as a protest. While this will not change the outcome, a large number of write in votes can and will send a message that people in town want a more open government where they can have a genuine voice in decision making.

I am asking everyone who shares this view to support a grassroots movement to write in A. Ficus for mayor. The Ficus is a plant that was "run" several years ago in a Congressional race where the incumbent Republican had no Democratic opponent. Writing in A. Ficus is a statement on behalf of genuine green principles, not simply the vanity projects on which this administration has spent our hard earned taxpayer dollars. You can find out more about A. Ficus and the grassroots movement behind it at

For those who do not feel comfortable writing in a plant, I urge you to go to the polls and write in the name of the person you would like to see serve as mayor. This is coming from me alone and not from the official Ficus campaign effort. If you don't want to write in A. Ficus, write in Sal Raspa, Nancy Wolf, yourself, or anyone you believe would be a better choice for mayor of Highland Park. The polls will be open from 6 AM-8 PM on Tuesday, November 6.

There are also two uncontested Borough Council seats up in this election. Many Ficus advocates are continuing the green theme and writing in Rose Bush and Prairie Fyre. Again, if you're not comfortable writing in these names, please come to the polls anyway and write in candidates of your choice.

I ask voters to remember that during this year's primary, the mayor and council members up for re-election made a promise to place all agendas and minutes of Borough Council meetings on the borough's web site. Five months have passed, and this has not been done, in spite of the fact that more and more municipalities are adopting this practice. Once again, we see promises made and promises broken.

Directions for Doing A Write In Vote:

Look for the office of Mayor near the bottom of the left hand column of the ballot listing all candidates.

Go to "Personal Choice" in the right hand column of that row and press the button next to "Write In."

THEN go to the alphabetical keyboard at the bottom right of the voting machine. Note: It is not a typewriter keyboard. Using this keyboard, enter the name of your choice one letter at a time. To make a space between the first and last names, use the arrow pointing right on the keyboard. To make a correction, use the arrow pointing left on the keyboard. The name you enter will appear on the display to the left of the keyboard.

IMPORTANT: When you have finished entering the name, press the "Enter" button on the keyboard. If you don't press enter, your vote will not register. This button is separate from the red "Cast Vote" button one must press before completing all voting.

Repeat the same process for both Borough Council seats. These will be listed in the left hand column of candidates underneath the mayor column.

Please pass this message along to anyone who you think might be interested in this option.

Finally, I would like to address a personal comment on the write in effort by one of the mayor's supporters. He emailed me with this statement: "Think about it Laurel, refusing to get out of the rain doesn't make you right, it simply makes you wet."

Sometimes getting wet is the better option than going inside to a place that is toxic on many levels. The night before my 2005 council primary, I distributed literature door to door in a raging thunderstorm. I've gotten rained on many times as a candidate and likely will again. Contrary to the opinions of some people in this town, I don't melt on contact with water.