Lembrich: Herman Will Bring Responsible Policies, Compassionate Leadership

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Three candidates are running for two Maplewood Township Committee seats in 2024: incumbents Nancy Adams and Jamaine Cripe, and Malia Herman. The primary election is on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. The general election takes place on Tuesday, November 5, 2024. Read all of our Election Coverage here.

I am very pleased to wholeheartedly support Malia Herman for election to the Maplewood Township Committee, am proud to have already cast my vote for her, and urge my fellow residents to do the same.

Malia is exactly the kind of person in our community who we all wish would run for public office, but rarely does.  As an experienced journalist, mom of 2 middle schoolers, and proven local leader on issues as varied as gun safety, special education, and increased accessibility to public resources, Malia has already shown the ability and determination to drive positive change for Maplewood.  We should not let the opportunity to elect her to serve in elected office, where she can have even greater impact, pass us by.

Everyone who knows Malia and has worked with her already understands that she is a powerful advocate, an effective organizer, a thoughtful speaker, an empathic listener, and a tireless and generous contributor to each effort and organization she joins.  All of these qualities will make her an excellent representative of our community on the Maplewood Township Committee.

I have known Malia for a decade, and I am confident that she knows how local government works and is ready to make the commitment necessary to do the job well.  My family and I first met Malia, her husband Dave, and their two kids in 2014, soon after they moved to Maplewood.  They were key supporters of my campaign for Township Committee in 2015, and subsequently also early supporters of Frank McGehee’s campaigns for Township Committee and State Assembly.  Malia also led the campaign team for Deborah Engel’s successful run for Township Committee in 2022.  On a personal level, I have enjoyed spending time with Malia and her family, including celebrating birthdays, 4th of July festivities, Maplewoodstock, and her daughter’s bat mitzvah last year.

For those who don’t yet know Malia, let me share with you why she is such a special person and how she would be a tremendous asset on Maplewood’s governing body.  Upon arriving in Maplewood, Malia and her family immediately became part of the fabric of our town.  In addition to her involvement with local politics, Malia has raised her hand and showed up whenever help was needed.  She has been a class parent, Scout leader, school show director, and so much more.  I was particularly impressed by the initiative she showed in working to found the local chapter of Moms Demand Action, and deeply inspired by her passionate work on behalf of neurodivergent and disabled children and their families as a President and Executive Board member of the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee.  I also had the privilege of working with Malia on the Pool Advisory Committee, where she helped champion increased access for residents unable to afford the cost of membership and greater inclusivity for children and adults with special needs.

One area where Malia’s skills and experience are particularly needed is the township’s oversight of our school district’s management of the Long-Range Facilities Plan.  As we’ve seen recently, the original $160M+ plan that was approved by the Board of School Estimate in 2019 has evolved significantly over the past 5 years due to pandemic-related delays, inflation-fueled cost increases, and changing administrative priorities.  As the mother of two middle schoolers and a former member of the SOMSD Presidents’ Council, Malia will bring valuable insight to the Board of School Estimate and other collaborations between school district and municipal leaders.

While Malia is not seeking to add artificial turf to any of our town’s public parks, she will support the Board of Education’s sensible proposal to install a turf field at Ritzer, particularly since it will narrow the existing inequalities in athletic facilities and opportunities that our female student-athletes face.  Despite being desperately needed, not to mention supported by 17 of the 21 current elected officials in our two towns, Malia’s opponents blocked the Ritzer turf field proposal at the Board of School Estimate without a viable alternative plan to provide the athletic fields that our student-athletes require.  Malia, whose daughter is among the many youth softball players who suffer from our inability to maintain our fields, understands this issue and will make it a priority if elected.

Malia is also a compassionate voice of reason and collaboration, which is valuable when tempers flare and controversial issues arise.  Malia understands that the key to working though our disagreements is respectful discourse, not divisive diatribes.  For example, she will help to support our Jewish community and combat the disturbing wave of antisemitism that has been rising since last October.  Malia knows that we can and must do better, that we can only do so together, and that our community’s elected officials must lead the way by example.

I urge all Maplewood voters to join me in voting for Malia Herman for Maplewood Township Committee.

Greg Lembrich
Maplewood Township Committee (2016-2021) and South Essex Fire Department Management Committee (2022-present)

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