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Mayor Fried: Almost Everyone I Hoped Would Win Did Win

"I woke up this morning and was as happy as on any morning waking up as mayor of Montclair," he said.

 

On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Jerry Fried predicted that mayoral candidate Robert Jackson would win the local election with 40 percent of the vote. He predicted that Karen Turner would come in second with 35 percent and that Harvey Susswein would come in third with 25 percent.

On Tuesday night, Jackson, a former mayor leading the Montclair 2012 slate, did even better than Fried had anticipated, raking in 3,878 votes, or 48 percent. Turner received 2,516 votes, or 31 percent, and Susswein received 1,682 votes.

On Wednesday afternoon, Fried—who was campaign manager for Deputy Mayor Kathryn Weller-Demming—chatted with Montclair Patch about the election and reflected on the various campaigns.

Q) What's your overall feeling today about how the election turned out?

A) I woke up this morning and was as happy as on any morning waking up as mayor of Montclair. Everyone who I'd hoped would win did win with the exception of Kathryn. I think she had an incredibly difficult fight. To try to run as an at-large candidate, when you are working full time and have two kids under the age of 4, is extremely hard. You basically need to be out there knocking on every door in Montclair.

Q) What do you think it was about Jackson's campaign that resonated with voters?

A) I think it was about the candidates. If anyone saw the debates or discussions ... I think Jackson had a very positive message and I think he also has a great mind, obviously. He articulates a positive message about where Montclair is headed and should be headed. I think that resonated with people. I also think he had a strong slate with him. He had a variety of people running on his slate.

Q) What were voters most concerned about during this campaign season?

A) For as long as I've been here people have always been concerned about taxes. We have a problem in New Jersey in that virtually all of our education is paid for in most places through property taxes. In Montclair nearly 60 percent of your tax bill goes to education. It's something in the  structure of New Jersey governance ... there's almost nothing you can do about it. You can move the needle by getting more commercial ratables, as Jackson talks about ... you can move the needle by doing more shared service agreements and by having as efficient a government as possible.

But the lion's share still goes to education and I don't think anyone has found a magic bullet for making education good and cheap for a diverse population.

I feel like my greatest contribution has been with this school board. All the candidates in this election support the work it is doing which is great.

Q) So people remain mostly concerned about taxes, which is what Turner's Real Progress Montclair slate focused on?

A) What I heard from voters was a much more clear understanding of what is happening in Montclair, which you might not assume to be the case if you read the literature from Real Progress Montclair. The graphs on their literature were inaccurate and deceptive. For example, the capital spending increases they cited were not accurate. Our last four years have not been a mirror of what happened during the four years before or the four years before that. We've actually added nothing to the debt.

I think the important thing is that voters understand that the doomsday scenarios and the pattern of reckless government being portrayed by Real Progress Montclair was, in fact, not an accurate picture of what the last four years have been like. In fact, the opposite is true. We cut capital spending and we cut municipal spending. We made permanent a large share of debt to lock in low interest rates. We did shared services agreements with things like uniform construction code as well as locking in the [fire services] contract with Glen Ridge.

The truth unfortunately could not easily get out there when two out of the three slates were painting a picture that was inaccurate.

Those who call themselves fiscal conservatives should have celebrated what we did the last four years. They didn't celebrate it but painted an inaccurate picture of what we did. I think that is confusing and remains confusing. But what the voters undrestaood is that Jackon's message and the slate he put together offered a vision of a more sustainable future for Montclair. I think they will continue the reforms we've been doing the last four years.

The voters chose wisely. I woke up very happy this morning with what the voters did.

Q) Did anything surprise you about the election?

A) The real surprise in the whole election was [third ward council seat winner] Sean Spiller. It's true that he ran with a strong slate [Montclair 2012] and that there were some coattails there. But for him to win as a relatively new resident of Montclair is a really positive sign. Chris Swenson is a good guy and I have a lot of respect for him. But I think running with the Real Progress Montclair slate really hurt him. Sean ran a very hard and strong campaign and was out knocking on a lot of doors. He showed people he was willing to work hard and that he's a really smart guy.

chris May 09, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Fried, the gloating does not become you. Hmmm..who would I believe regarding the fiscal shape the town is in, an advertising hack whose only concern is getting a bike path installed on every street, or analysts and accountants who work on Wall street and crunch numbers all day long for a living?? Professionals you probably couldn't even UNDERSTAND, frankly! Give me a break - this election was a travesty, no a tragedy. Jackson has pretty good educational credentials so I pray he's not fully of the Fried/WellerDemming/Nick Lewis ilk. What's the plan now Fried - bike across the country perhaps? BYE!
notroc May 09, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Jeez, chris, was that what you call gloating? I think Jerry was measured and certainly more diplomatic than I might have been. Maybe you didn't read the article carefully. Sort of how your slate (RPM) did NOT really do their homework, as they claimed to a fault. Oh, I guess they didn't say/publish that RPM candidates did their homework "well" or "competently". Maybe that's what they will claim later in another mendacious round of their credible denial game. I don't blame you for being fooled by the RPM slate or their handlers, unless you are one of them. It really takes a few hours a week just to keep up with what the township government is doing as a mere citizen $uper Taxpayer. Jerry put in more hours per week performing in his UNPAID position serving you and me than all but the very worst workaholic residents in his constituency. Even among those of us hard-working folk who enjoy living in the Estate Section, which I assure you is a privilege, indeed. By the way, who were the Wall Street number crunchers on that ticket? Meh! Please go away until you better inform yourself, troll.
frank rubacky May 10, 2012 at 12:59 AM
I heard they finally replaced the Montclair Center slogan "Montclair: Where the Suburbs Meets the City". Now it is "Montclair: Where Passive Meets Aggressive".
Shelley Emling (Editor) May 10, 2012 at 01:02 AM
That's a good one Frank!
JerseyGent May 10, 2012 at 07:02 AM
"Everyone who I'd hoped would win did win with the exception of Kathryn. I think she had an incredibly difficult fight. To try to run as an at-large candidate, when you are working full time and have two kids under the age of 4, is extremely hard." Please, Mayor Fried, as a current officeholder and veteran of at least two political campaigns, you of all people should know that incumbents like Kathryn Weller-Demming ALWAYS have an advantage thanks to the visibility of the position which gives them almost unrivalled name recognition. The REAL problem with your candidate is that just about everyone in town knows who she is, but no one likes her!!! For someone who prides herself on supposedly being "socially sensitive," she often comes across as angry, abusive and arrogant with her confrontational, intolerant, judgmental and self-righteous rants... Just ask Cary Africk! Ideologically speaking, Weller-Demming has done more damage to the town in her four years on the council than almost anyone else with her fanatical crusade for "social justice," whatever that means... Meanwhile, trivial things like taxes, debt and spending are spiraling out of control while Weller-Demming wails on about the importance of correcting "social ills..." Thankfully, the election results show that more people in town subscribe to the ideology of sensible centrists like LeeAnn Carlson and Peter Zorich of RPM, who weren't elected either, but each received TWICE as many votes as Weller-Demming!
Dan May 10, 2012 at 01:42 PM
That's funny, I woke up the happiest I've been since you've been Mayor also. What a coincidence. "For as long as I've been here people have always been concerned about taxes. We have a problem in New Jersey in that virtually all of our education is paid for in most places through property taxes. In Montclair nearly 60 percent of your tax bill goes to education. It's something in the structure of New Jersey governance ... there's almost nothing you can do about it." Well you've managed to raise the taxes, incur debt and lower services. You've done plenty. Seems like once again, you fail to be accountable for the damage you've led this town to. Just end your term quietly and let's get this town fixed.
Joseph A. Fortunato May 11, 2012 at 12:17 PM
I have to admit I can't always follow the genuises who work on Wall Street, either....like when they said the economy (read: banks and other monopolists) needed $700 BILLION Dollars from taxpayers by "like tomorrow," in order to avert a worldwide Depression. Or Jon Corzine, when he said, no testified, "I don't know where the money is." (paraphrasing)
Stuart Weissman May 11, 2012 at 06:07 PM
For the record Jerry, you barely obtained more votes in 2008 than Turner did in 2012. And without Cary's support on the ticket, chances are you would have lost to an incumbent. Nick and you did a fine job helping Kathryn's campaign too. I especially enjoyed when Nick stated that many of the public comments were stupid and that one needs to enter a Zen-like state to ignore them. We are still waiting for your promised economic benefits from your visits to China. Almost out of time ya know.
Tell it Straight May 11, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Stuart, There were approx 1000 more voters in this election, giving karen turner the opportunity to garner more votes. As part of her concession speech, she took credit for bring more people to the polls. Bradford swim club and Montclair golf Club members amassed at the polls, so there you have it.

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