Montclair 2012 today issued the following statement below in response to the recent controversy over an ad for the Real Progress Montclair slate that had more than 100 "moms" signing on as supporters.
Many of those moms described themselves as PTA members which led some in Montclair to criticize the ad. They charged that PTAs are not-for-profit groups barred from endorsing candidates or engaging in politics.
This week, the Real Progress Montclair slate issued a statement to The Montclair Times:
"Our Moms for Real Progress Montclair effort is growing rapidly. In fact, in the past week since our ad ran, more and more moms have joined our initiative. Many have joined because they are saddened to see our school volunteers suffer these political attacks. These Moms know that we did not violate any by-laws of any groups when we ran this ad.
"RPM is stunned that Ms. [Catherine] Steele [president of the Essex County PTA] and the Essex County political machine she represents are attacking our mom volunteers … We also know that the Jackson slate is being run by the Essex County political machine, so we can only presume that they are behind these attacks. Voters should be asking themselves why a town outsider like Steele who has never stepped foot in Montclair or helped any of children here is bullying our moms and injecting herself into our town. These moms care so much for our schools and spend so many countless hours working on behalf of our kids.
"The status quo incumbents from the Jackson/Russo/Murnick slate and the political machines that support them are desperate because they sense as we do that we are leading in this campaign. It's sad that in their desperation they are attacking our school volunteers along the way."
In another press release explaining the ad, Glenfield Middle School PTA President Sue Weintraub said, RPM's mayoral candidate Karen Turner "has done her research and reached out to women in town, like myself, whom she knows devote themselves to the Montclair public schools. She has asked me and many others what we care about, what we are concerned about, what makes our schools great and what needs attention. We did not have to chase her to be heard, to be listened to. She engaged us in conversation. She is the epitome of what one wants from a local government representative. She wants to represent her constituents, not simply tell them what’s good for them.”
As a result of the above from Real Progress Montclair, the Montclair 2012 slate led by mayoral candidate Robert Jackson released the following statement late Thursday:
The RPM release is simply the latest in a long line of Nixonian tactics and statements from the [Sue] Weintraub-led RPM slate. The win at all cost/blind ambition/bullying culture of its operatives is well known. The statement is such an amateurish effort to create a “bad guy” that it would normally be summarily dismissed.
What we do find intriguing and disturbing, however, is that whenever certain leaders like (and apparently only like) Robert Jackson and Catherine Steele disagree with Weintraub/RPM, they have to be “controlled” by someone as if they are incapable of independent, intellectual thought.
Mayoral candidate Jackson was more forthright: “I believe that this statement by RPM,” he said, “is a distasteful but inept attempt to inject race into the campaign. Ms. Steele and I are African-Americans. We have never met but somehow, perhaps telepathically over the super-secret Controlled African-American Hotline, we hatched a scheme to attack Weintraub and the powerful, prominent PTA moms. It’s preposterous! It’s offensive!
Jackson continued: “These kinds of tactics only strengthen my resolve to win this election with the Montclair 2012 team It’s clearer than ever to me that we are in a fight for the heart of this community. I for one will not surrender it without a fight to people who campaign and no doubt will govern in such a reprehensible manner.”