"To thine own self be true...And it must follow, as the night the day, thou can not then be false to any man." Hamlet
For one brief shining moment in Flemington we had a highly productive council, no partisanship. In the absence of party quibbling, this past year was a very productive one. The atmosphere on the council was cordial and trusting. I must say the discussion I witnessed on the stacking ordinance led by Councilman Mark Legato was a work of art, a picture perfect debate about the problem of overcrowding among the council members, the citizens, the police chief and the fire inspector. Very cooperative with no self - interest. I was impressed.
All that, I fear, has ended with the last election when the Democrats fielded candidates to challenge those Republicans up for election, including my husband, Phil Greiner. Even though political parties do what they do, a lack of wisdom notwithstanding, Democrat council members, Mark Legato and Brooke Liebowtiz, as far as I am aware had no ax to grind with Republican candidates Erica Edwards, John Gorman and Phil Greiner. In fact, after working with Ms. Edwards, Mr. Gorman and Mr. Greiner this past year, I would expect Mrs. Liebowitz and Mr. Legato to have gained a sincere respect for them and how hard they worked for the people of Flemington. So it is disturbing that these Democratic council members actively campaigned against their fellow council members for the only reason but to get rid of them because they are Republicans.
After the 2006 election, Mrs. Liebowitz and Mr. Legato made public comments for several weeks about how they felt they had been personally attacked and how unfair they thought the Republican campaign had been. Sitting in the privileged position I had as wife of a candidate, I can say that the recent election was conducted with unusual political sensitivity to Mrs. Liebowitz and Mr. Legato’s complaints. Additionally, dignity and courtesy was extended to them as minority council members. This departing council saw no party line or block voting, no out muscling of the minority, no political gamesmanship. It exuded a cooperative spirit; working out the best solution to some of the very serious problems our Boro faces now, rather than pushing through an agenda as newly elected Democrat Linda Mastellone indicated was the intent of the new Democratic majority. This past year virtually all the votes were unanimous. All the crucial votes were unanimous. So exactly what were the “Dems” not getting that they wanted?
Flemington is a small hamlet whose residents over the years grow to be a loose knit family. Flemington is not center stage for national or even state politics. What we do to each other here is personal. What precisely was the political gain exchanged for the loss of this cordial, productive council --- re-opening those old political wounds the council had worked to heal this past year? How is that good for Flemington? What kind of goal and leadership is that? It bears repeating-- it is hard to understand why these particular Democratic council members worked to unseat their cohorts for any other reason than to get rid of them because they were Republicans. That was the reward for their efforts to turn a corner on the disadvantages of partisan politics and heal the wounds from the last election. There is a price for such shallow perspectives. My husband, Phil Greiner, who was unseated, offered among other things much needed financial expertise that is now lacking on the council. More important, the trust and enthusiasm once permeating the council is damaged. What happened here? Why did Councilwoman Liebowitz and Councilman Legato throw down the gauntlet?
Furthermore, if the new majority acts as the proxy voice of the Democratic leadership instead of keeping true to their own individual consciences, they would be adding insult to the already injured council that was non partisan in action. They would be betraying the voters who have twice declined the party leader’s bids for re-election. Despite Ms. Mastellone’s ambitions, there is no Democratic mandate from the voters for major change in the Boro as a result of this very close race. One either serves the party or the people. One can seldom do both.
Save signing a formal peace treaty on the USS New Jersey, I don’t know what more the Republicans could have done this past year and in this past election to demonstrate that they had laid down the weapons in their arsenal for the sake of the people of Flemington while at the same time addressing the previous complaints of their fellow Democratic council members. That showed respect. Their efforts made no impression evidently. Nothing good comes from breaking truces.
I believe we “Flemingtonians” have lost our little bit of time in Camelot because unlike this past year when there were no Democrats or Republicans, just council members who worked for us, we once again have the Democrats and Republicans.