VIDEO: Maplewood TC Candidates Forum Was Feisty and Informative

It’s a lot easier to have a substantive candidates forum when you have fewer candidates.

With just three candidates vying for two seats on the Maplewood Township Committee up for election on November 7, the Hilton Neighborhood Association was able to present many questions and get answers — and some testy rebuttals — from all three candidates over the course of 90 minutes.

While the candidates had seen the first five questions ahead of time, they spend more than 30 minutes taking and answering questions from the audience.

The candidates are Dean Dafis, Victor DeLuca and Mike Summersgill.

Major issues discussed included apartment developments in town and their impacts on taxes, the schools and pedestrians safety; policing and racial justice; progress on Springfield Avenue; and the proposed expansion of the main branch of  the Maplewood Library.

Candidates broke format a few times as when Mayor Vic DeLuca rebutted a statement made by Mike Summergill regarding the fire department’s ability to fight apartment fires, and when Summersgill and Dean Dafis went back and forth during closing statements over their actions during this year’s National Night Out in August when a protest was also taking place regarding the release of police video and audio tapes.

The forum was moderated by Carol Buchanan, who faced some minor mutinies from her official timekeepers Florence Magyar and Jim Buchanan. The video was recorded by Joy Yagid of SOMAtv.

We’ve transcribed the questions and provided timestamps for the answers.

Opening Statements:

  • Dean Dafis – 2:00
  • Vic DeLuca – 4:40
  • Mike Summersgill – 7:00

Prepared Questions:

There is still a growing concern about town about the speed of traffic and about the safety of pedestrians and other motorists. What would you do to address this problem?

  • DeLuca 9:40
  • Summergill 11:35
  • Dafis 13:00

What do you think the Maplewood Township Committee should do to ensure that our police force members are more racially responsible? Please be specific.

  • Summersgill – 15:07
  • Dafis – 16;58
  • Vic – 19:00

In the Hilton area, we have the Avalon Bay apartments, the rentals across from police headquarters, the rentals across from Seth Boyden School, and the additional building at Maplewood Crossing on Burnet Ave. Do you think we have reached a saturation point with new development in the neighborhood?

  • Dafis – 22:40
  • DeLuca – 24:45
  • Summersgill – 26:35
Do you support the plan for the expansion of the main library? Please give your reasons. If yes, what would you do to help pass in the November election the state referendum to support the building or expansion of libraries?
  • DeLuca –  28:56 (At 30:15 DeLuca rebuts Summergill’s comments in his last answer about the Maplewood Fire Department equipment vis a vis the Avalon Bay apartment fire.)
  • Summersgill – 30:50 (begins with rebuttal of rebuttal)
  • Dafis – 32:07
Besides our high taxes, what do you think is Maplewood’s most pressing problem and what would you do to solve it?
  • Summersgill 34:23 (disappointment in progress on Springfield Avenue)
  • Dafis- 36:00 (aside from affordability, public safety and progress on Springfield Avenue)
  • DeLuca – 38:00 (NJ Transit and the need to be one community)

What do you have to offer that would make us want to vote for you that you haven’t already said?

  • Dafis –  40:32
  • DeLuca – 43:42
  • Summersgill – 45:45

Questions from audience: 

47:37 Why the apartments? Taxes are going to go up, schools will need to be built. (plus a question about the library expansion)

58:30 Problem with Harrington Movers moving in besides apartment buildings. Why? And what can we do about idling trucks?

1:04 Do you believe that we might be able to better communicate these development plans? Can we be better at validating what we do? How can we measure how well we met the intent of the guidelines and how the project was executed?

1:11:30 NJ Monthly ranked us at 144 on good places to live. We’re down the list on the schools. How do we address this? And how do we get the word out that we are closer to No. 1?

Closing statements – 1:17:00

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