Sunday, October 29, 2006

Why the Write-in is Important

Why the Write-in Effort is Important

The ballot candidates’ responses to the Debra Johnson for Mayor write-in campaign underscore the need for such an effort. What was a citizens’ movement, now takes on another aspect.

I, for one, was amazed by both Ms. Woods-Cleary’s and Mr. Gambatese’s words as published in the South Brunswick Post’s article about Ms. Johnson’s write-in campaign. After all, this is America, and the consensus is that American’s always have a choice. It is a remarkable fact both party candidates do not seem aware of, but all of our election ballots clearly have a slot for “Personal Choice,” or the write-in candidate.

Ms. Woods-Cleary stated: "When people enter the political arena they should play by the rules. The people spoke in June and said no to Debbie Johnson as the Democratic candidate and she should abide by that." What rules is she talking about? Ms. Johnson is not running as the Democratic candidate. She is running at a grassroots citizens’ group’s request in an independent democratic effort. The rules allow for write-in candidates. How can such freedom be wrong?

Mr. Gambatese’s response is even more disturbing: "I think it's disingenuous of the person, personally. This is a person who says 'I get beat in the primary I'm finished,' and now she's running a write-in campaign." One more personal attack in the Democratic arsenal, but this time, he can’t even bother to use Ms. Johnson’s name. Besides, he is woefully uninformed about who is running the campaign. This was not Ms. Johnson’s idea. This was a citizens’ initiative. As Ms. Johnson said in the same article: "After the primary they approached me to run as a write-in candidate and I said we need to let it go…. But they approached me again and asked if I was elected would I serve. And I said I would never turn away if called to service." These are not the words of a person who took an active role in beginning the write-in campaign.

But Mr. Gambatese’s criticism of the citizens’ write-in initiative after a loss by a bit over 100 votes in the primary is a bit disingenuous as well. By that logic, when he lost the Mayor’s race in West Paterson in 1990, to Frank Zaccaria, should he not have surrendered for good and all? Instead, when Mr. Zaccaria passed away and his wife, Mary Zaccaria was selected to become a candidate to replace him less than a year later, according to The Record of Bergen County, October 23, 1991, “Running for mayor (is) Frank T. Gambatese, an accountant, trying a comeback after his narrow defeat for reelection last year.” When he again lost to the Republican candidate by a substantial margin, he was far from gracious in defeat: “Gambatese offered these terse words in return: "I'm a firm believer that the people get the government they deserve and, in this case, it is obvious that the real losers in this election are the people. Mary Zaccaria is living proof that you don't need to know anything about running government to be elected. Evidently the people in West Paterson do not mind supporting with their tax dollars the Republican elite." (The Record, November 6, 1991)

How sad to read such words from a person who hopes to lead any town to positive goals.Candidates should welcome open elections, just as they welcome open government.

It is the people whose voices should be heard, not theirs. The write-in for Debra Johnson is an example of our democracy and its voting process at its best. We do have a say in the election. It’s time to be sure the politicians are listening.


At 11:13 AM, Blogger James said...

Well I have done my part in the write in I can only pray a few thousand other people do there part for the write in :-)


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