Election Maplewood

Dean Dafis Is Maplewood’s First Openly LGBT Candidate for Township Committee

Today on Facebook, Dean Dafis, campaign manager for newly elected Township Committeeman Frank McGehee, declared his own run for Maplewood Township Committee.

Dafis, who has lived in Maplewood for two years with his partner George Forbes, has been active in the community, joining the South Orange-Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, the Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation and the Maplewood Green Team Advisory Committee.

If elected, Dafis would be Maplewood’s first openly gay elected official.

Dafis is applying for endorsement by the Maplewood Democratic Committee (deadline is February 27). If selected, he would face a primary election on June 6 and a general election ballot in November.

There are two seats up for election on the TC this year. Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca has already announced that he will run for a 7th term on the TC. Ostensibly, DeLuca and Dafis could be running mates on one Democratic ticket — depending on the selection of the Maplewood Democratic Committee. DeLuca has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.

The potential pairing means locals should brace themselves for a deluge of “Dean & DeLuca” election fliers and pamphlets.

Mike Summersgill has also declared his intention to run as a Republican for Township Committee this year.

Terms on the Maplewood Township Committee are for three years.

Read Dafis’s full announcement here:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I’m excited to announce my run for Maplewood Township Committee! I’m seeking the Maplewood Democratic Committee’s endorsement for the June 6th Democratic Primary.

My run is all about YOU. If you share the belief that all politics is local, join me in fighting for our community’s diversity/inclusion, affordability, economic prosperity, educational opportunity, senior services, public safety, and responsible development. Keeping Maplewood strong is the first defense in the resistance against the attack on our country’s founding principles and our community’s core values.

My partner George Forbes and I moved to Maplewood nearly two years ago. We were attracted to Maplewood’s charm, diversity, welcoming spirit, and progressive values. I hit the ground running within my first months here, first helping Committeeman Frank McGehee get elected as his campaign co-manager, and then joining the Community Coalition on Race. CCR’s mission and history in shaping our wonderful community really resonate with me. Then I joined the Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation; the library is the cornerstone of our community and I learned English alongside my mother in ESL classes at our local library. Most recently, the Township appointed me to the Green Team Advisory Committee; sustaining our planet for future generations is vital to our survival.

In the coming months, you’ll get to know me better. By way of an introduction, I’m a first generation Greek-American from a modest blue-collar family, born and raised in Philly. My parents came to the United States in the mid-60s to escape poverty and a military dictatorship. My mother was a seamstress and my father washed dishes. After years of hard work they saved enough to purchase a diner. My brother and I grew up learning the importance of hard work, good service and giving back to the community. I came of age during the AIDS epidemic. I was scared when I came out and endured years of conversion therapy. From those experiences I chose to become an attorney and champion civil rights. My first job was as a public defender, representing indigent people in criminal court. Later, I worked on Wall Street as a securities litigator. These days, I mentor and guide young attorneys in developing their careers while helping companies and law firms achieve their diversity goals.

As a community activist, I worked alongside grassroots organizers, national advocates and lobbyists in the pursuit of securing marriage equality and ending conversion therapy. I also worked on political campaigns of progressive candidates.

I’m running because local governance matters, now more than ever. I was inspired to run by YOU. All of you who I met on the campaign trail last summer, your energy, your intelligence, your commitment and pride in the community you have built. I’m also inspired by the robust governing body that is our Township Committee. It would be an honor to run alongside Mayor DeLuca who was an early leader on LGBT rights in our town. His recent commitment to upholding our town’s welcoming policy in the face of controversy exemplifies the type of moral courage and deep sense of community service to which I aspire.

I hope you will support me on this journey. Lets make history together electing Maplewood’s first LGBT on the TC! I’m deeply grateful to have the support of TC Committee members, Greg Lembrich Frank McGehee, Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams and Mayor Victor De Luca, as well of previous TC members, former Mayors and other community leaders.

I look forward to seeing you around town in the coming weeks. I’ll be out there collecting signatures for my ballot petition.

Dean

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