The following was posted by former South Orange Village President Alex Torpey to his Facebook page on April 25; it is republished here with his permission.
On the upcoming South Orange municipal election:
I have not spoken to either VP candidate about writing this or making a public endorsement. It’s just my decision to share a personal reflection after not only having after having spent 29 out of 31 years of life in SOMA/MAPSO, having worked with each VP candidate for many years while I was a volunteer and then Village President, having worked/consulted on about two dozen local campaigns around NJ and elsewhere, now having watched how each campaign has been handling itself, and now for the last year and a half on the staff side of local government working successfully as a Business Administrator in New Jersey.
Some of the qualities I think are probably the most appropriate when considering who to vote for a municipal chief executive:
- Willingness and ability to spend LOTS of time digging deeply into important issues, communicating, and being thoughtful/knowledgeable about what’s happening so as to make highly informed decisions and set the right example for the rest of the organization.
- Avoiding the seductive draw of “attention grabbing” but inaccurate, and usually misleading, statements to describe one or an opponent’s actions or issues you come across, opting instead for sharing information that informs people and allows them to make their own decision based on facts, not emotion or rhetoric.
- That regardless of what the person believes, that they have the skills and time to actually get done whatever it is they are saying they can do. Big ideas are nice in a world where things magically happen, but being an effective organizer, planner, and doer is more important in this world where things don’t happen often simply because many in government just simply don’t know how to do stuff effectively.
- Easy when both candidate have been in office – What have they done with the time they have had serving? Time in elected public office is a priceless and lucky opportunity, and time not spent working at 100% to get things done, in my opinion, is squandering an opportunity afforded to only the most lucky among us.
There are lots of positions on issues that are important, and more criteria I think are important, but I think these are some good high-level questions.
As a sidenote, I have been very disappointed to see some of the negative and misleading information distributed in this election, having not only worked on the Fire Department merger issue myself when I came into office in 2011, but also as a student (and professor) of good public policy.
Based on this, and my understanding of many of the issues still facing South Orange, I would strongly encourage anyone thinking about who to vote for, to do so for Sheena Collum.
Full disclosure, most everyone, especially Sheena herself knows that I do not agree with her on everything, and there were plenty of times we disagreed, for the most part respectfully, in public at least, about things while we served together and since. But, in my opinion, voting for someone isn’t about finding someone you agree with 100% of the time (that politician is riding a unicorn in a field of trees that burst forth dollar bills from their branches every spring, with winged pigs flying about laughing at the ice age which has overtaken the underworld), but rather it is about finding someone you trust to do the best job possible to effectively get things done that will be generally in line with your values and your goals.
Sheena is that person for me, and I hope you’ll consider making her that person for you as well!