Updated 4:02 p.m. with a response from Frank McGehee, Democrat for Maplewood Township Committee.
It’s that time of year: Lawn signs are proliferating around South Orange and Maplewood as the November 8 election nears.
It’s time for the five candidates for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education and two for the Maplewood Township Committee to start planting signs on lawns throughout the towns — along with some candidates for national office.
So far, we’ve spotted signs in Maplewood for Susie Adamson — for South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education — and Frank McGehee — Maplewood Township Committee (let us know if we’ve missed any: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org). But one candidate tells us that he is opting out of the physical lawn sign and going with a “virtual” version.
Republican Candidate for Maplewood Township Committee, Mike Summersgill, says he won’t be using traditional lawn signs to promote his campaign. In a release, Summersgill cites “safety, environmental, and aesthetic concerns” as well as a desire to raise money for three local charities.
“I have decided not to use lawn signs as part of my effort to get elected to Maplewood’s Township Committee in November. I have always found the signs distracting and I worry about the safety of placing them so close to crosswalks.“
Virtual Summersgill lawn signs can be purchased at www.OpExGap.com/map for $26, with all proceeds going to a charity of choice: either South Mountain YMCA, Girls Helping Girls.Period or CHS Cougars Boosters.
Once you buy your sign, you can “see” it on a GoogleMap of campaign lawn signs at www.OpExGap.com/map.
We asked Summersgill, who faces an uphill battle running as a Republican in a town that votes overwhelmingly Democratic if he was simply saving money and not spending dollars on what many perceive as a losing cause.
“It’s not about being cheap or saving money, it’s about spending money on the things I care about,” said Summersgill. “It’s also an example of the innovative thinking that I’ll bring to our Township Commitee and government in general.” Summersgill noted that 110% of proceeds will be donated, meaning he will add another $2.60 on top of every $26 to a charity.
We also noted that a large Summersgill banner has been prominently affixed to a house on Valley Street for several weeks, somewhat diminishing the distracted driving argument. Summersgill said that the banner, displayed by a Republican Committee member, had been created for the Maplewood Duck Race and would be removed shortly.
Reached out to Summersgill’s opponent Frank McGehee said: “Every campaign has it’s own strategy. My goal is to work on behalf of all of Maplewood. Lawn signs are one of the most democratic communication tools around. And for most campaigns (like mine) you don’t need to spend any money to show your support for a candidate. They also serve a great purpose by raising awareness for some of our best charitable events, including Rent Party, The Achieve Foundation’s Newstead 5K and The Robert J. Miller OysterFest. At the end of the day, it is about serving and having the right background to serve. Looking forward to addressing the issues of affordability, safety, and inclusion. These are the issues that impact Maplewoodians all over town.”
It should be noted that Summersgill chose the three charities as recipients; their selection does not indicate an endorsement by Girls Helping Girls. Period, the South Mountain YMCA or the CHS Cougars Boosters for the candidate.
“We really appreciate he chose us and has continued to choose to support
us,” said Hank Zona of the CHS Cougars Boosters. We wish more folks saw the value of supporting the high school because a strong and supported high school is vital to a strong community.”
More about the selected charities:
South Mountain YMCA – Every day, the Y gives the support it needs to learn, grow and thrive. The Y delivers programs that support Youth Development, Healthy Living, Social Responsibility. From advocacy to food security, disease prevention to athletics, football to dance classes, everything they do helps strengthen our neighborhood and the people who live here (https://www.metroymcas.org/south-mountain-ymca/south-mountain-ymca).
Girls Helping Girls. Period – GHGP believes feminine hygiene is a matter of basic health. And human dignity. The organization is dedicated to educating people on the need, and collecting/distributing products. GHGP does its work by hosting events, asking for business support with flyers and collection bins and encouraging others to host parties and activities that bring in donations. The mission includes donating a full years’ supply of products to each client it helps (https://www.girlshelpinggirlsperiod.org).
CHS Cougar Boosters – Since 1974 the CHS Cougar Boosters have provided critical financial support for the extracurricular programs at Columbia High School. These funds have been used to allow student organizations and athletic teams to participate in team events and club activities, present award winning musical and theatrical performances, replace aging equipment, enter and host prestigious academic competitions, publish student writings, enhance school and athletic facilities and so much more. (Donate directly at https://www.chscougarboosters.org/)