At 4 a.m. today, the Real Progress Montclair campaign distributed a press release on how mayoral candidate Karen Turner would shatter the town's "glass ceiling" if elected today by becoming its first-ever directly elected woman mayor, something Montclair has not had in 144 years.
The release is titled "Karen Turner Looks To Make History As Montclair's First Elected Woman Mayor In 144 Years."
The press release said that, while the prospect of being a female political pioneer is exciting to Turner, and inspiring to her two daughters, Turner remains firmly focused on the possibility of leading Montclair forward on an ambitious agenda that includes delivering more efficient and cost-effective services, strengthening schools and libraries, and stabilizing Montclair’s finances.
“If I have the tremendous honor to serve as Montclair’s first directly elected woman mayor, I will work hard to restore confidence in local government, make education and libraries a top priority, and rally the entire community behind specific steps to get Montclair back on a financially sustainable path,” said Turner.
But Mary Mochary was mayor of Montclair from 1980 to 1984.
In 1980, Montclair changed its form of government from a five-member commission to a seven-member council. Mochary ran for the council and, out of 28 candidates in the nonpartisan municipal election, she garnered the most votes, leading to her selection as mayor from 1980 to 1984.
Several readers have emailed Montclair Patch, citing Mochary's election as mayor in 1980.
And David Grill, campaign manager for mayoral candidate Harvey Susswein, said he finds Real Progress Montclair's press release "offensive."
He said his translation of the press release is this: "I might be dangerous and I might be unqualified, but vote for me because I’m a woman."
Grill goes on to say "so African-Americans should vote for Jackson because he’s black? Jews for Susswein? It's 2012 and we’re playing the gender card? This is offensive."
Late Tuesday morning, Real Progress Montclair distributed another press relesae, reiterating that Turner would be the first popularly elected woman mayor in Montclair's history.
"The truth is that mayors have only been elected directly by the people since 1988," said Larry Kopp, campaign chairman. "Montclair has a proud tradition as a progressive and forward-thinking community—it's time for the people to directly elect a woman to lead Montclair."
Kopp noted that Mochary was elected as councilwoman-at-large at a critical time in Montclair's history.
"Our Charter Commission had just recommended changing to a new form of government and so it was important that the Township have a strong leader during the transition," he said. "Following the 1980 election, Mochary was selected by her peers to fulfill that role and lead the Township."
Kopp said that, once again, Montclair is at a crossroads.
"In the last 12 years, our taxes have doubled and our debt has tripled," said Kopp. "This has led the incumbents and the status quo to take the easy way out by cutting library funding and nearly eliminating pre-k scholarships. We cannot continue relying on higher debt and higher taxes to balance the budget because its destroying the very programs and institutions that people of low and moderate incomes need most."
In a New York Times article on life in Montclair published in May 1982, Mochary is mentioned.
The town's "present mayor is Mary Mochary, who, in a largely ceremonial post, issues proclamations about 'how fortunate we are to reside in a community where we are surrounded by beauty, with the freedom and means to enjoy it to its fullest.' She also adds zest to Montclair's penchant for controversy by making proclamations about the township's 10 schools while sending her children to its private prep school," the article said.
Ironically, Turner also has been criticized for talking about the town's excellent school system while sending her two daughters to Montclair Kimberley Academy.
Meanwhile, Turner said that—since women make up 50 percent of the town's population and two of RPM's four candidates are women—there is no doubt that the slate is committed to leveraging women's voices and votes into greater visibility and representation in Montclair's municipal government.
The RPM slate includes Turner as well as LeeAnn Carlson, Chris Swenson, and Peter Zorich.
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