LINDEN — Democratic Councilman Derek Armstead and James Moore — who lost a 1993 re-election bid to the current mayor — are waging a grassroots campaign based on a new vision for the city’s future.
Whether city voters are ready to embrace that outlook remains to be seen, but the political establishment has been given no choice in the matter.
Armstead and Moore took on a fight and won a landslide victory in the Democratic primary election in June, defeating candidates backed by the political machine that once dominated city government.
Since then, the two candidates have struggled for funding — they are being outspent by the incumbent by about 4 to 1 — but they have never wavered on their plan for creating new jobs and bringing taxes back under control.
Armstead and Moore have been working every day to secure a victory on Nov. 2 in Linden, a city where the average Democrat gets 68 percent of the vote.
Many observers believe Gerbounka’s 2006 upset of longtime powerhouse John Gregorio may have altered the political landscape, but the two Democrats say city voters still have progressive values.
Moore, a former councilman who is the Democratic nominee for council president, is walking door to door as volunteers pass out leaflets outlining the team’s position on issues such as crime, taxes, economic development and getting results.
Holding up a worn-out shoe, Armstead says he has believed in bringing the campaign to voters face-to-face since his first victory in 1993. The Democrat also promises a different style if he wins the keys to City Hall.
“I will provide leadership to get results where the political process has failed,” said Armstead, who does not share the incumbent’s desire to alter the city’s form of government.
“I am not blaming Mayor Gerbounka, because I respect him and understand he has done what he feels is right and what he has been able to do,” said Armstead. “As mayor, I will do things my way, bringing people together to pursue important goals.”
Armstead wants to beef up manufacturing in Linden’s polluted industrial areas along the waterfront.
A new access road that links the region to the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 12, a demand for clean energy products and the need for local jobs makes a dedicated effort to reclaim idle industrial zone an exercise in common sense, according to the Democratic candidate.
“There is no better social program than a good job,” said Armstead. “I will champion using stimulus dollars, existing loan-guarantee programs and our community’s wealth to work with good corporate partners and innovative entrepreneurs to build new manufacturing plants in Linden.”
“By using public assets to leverage financing, our city can partner with some of the giant global corporations that reside here — such as Infineum, Conoco-Philips and Merck — to make our region a leader in clean energy production,” said Moore. “We can convert abandoned industrial tracts once used by American Cyanimid, GAF, DuPont and GM into manufacturing facilities for solar panels, electric cars and other clean technology products.”
“These products are an economic and environmental necessity, so Linden should seize the initiative rather than waiting for China to take the lead,” said Moore. “As a partner in the development of this kind of private enterprise, our city can benefit by more than just jobs and tax revenue. Our taxpayers can share the profits from these ventures for years to come.”
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