RAHWAY — Residents will have a choice between Hillside township administrator Samson Steinman and Rahway Democrat James J. Devine in the upcoming mayoral primary election, scheduled for Tuesday, June 3.
Devine, a strategist who managed all of former Rahway Mayor Jim Kennedy’s re-election campaigns and worked with numerous other Democratic candidates, says City Hall has become complacent during the last decade, which saw taxes on homes rise 60 percent while local teenagers have been shot in the streets as police failed to solve more than three out of four reported crimes.
Steinman inherited the city’s helm when his efforts to force Mayor Rick Proctor to resign became successful last year and he was hired as Hillside township administrator shortly after Angela Garretson became Mayor there. In between, he appointed the county’s 32-year-old deputy director of parks and recreation to be Rahway city administrator despite her lack of municipal experience. Steinman was Proctor’s campaign manager in 2010.
In his 2014 state of the city speech, Steinman declared that Rahway “is heading in the right direction,” but Devine flatly refutes that claim, arguing that property taxes increased 60 percent on homeowners who are already overcharged due to faulty assessments, while unemployment, foreclosures and gun violence remain very real threats in the city.
“Crime, poverty and unemployment plague parts of the city left behind during a decade of downtown development and it is time to address those neglected neighborhoods,” said Devine. “Kennedy’s vision was futuristic in 1990 but Rahway’s problems have evolved and we need new energy, new ideas and a new direction because this is a different century and millenium.”
“We will need a mayor who will stand up for the people, especially when it comes to the political power brokers, wealthy outside developers and greedy global corporations that have pursued profits here without regard for the quality of life,” said Devine. “If I am successful, I hope Jim Kennedy and other prominent citizens will serve as trustworthy advisors but the days of puppet leadership will end.”
Devine promised to unveil his slate candidates on Monday, after petitions have been filed with city and county clerks, and he said anyone interested in seeking public office is welcome to reach out to the campaign by calling 732-340-1980.
Chatting with parents about the Democratic primary election at Cleveland school, Devine said he is disappointed because he held hope that Steinman could be a good leader but his ineptitude in the job, bullying political tactics and failure to assert leadership have proved that he is not ready for the job.
“I supported Jim Kennedy, but we never elected him king, and Steinman’s weakness has left the former mayor firmly in charge while his own devotion to the city was aptly demonstrated when he went running out of town for a big paycheck,” said Devine.
“We have serious problems that demand attention, so I feel duty-bound to step up and offer voters a choice between Democrats for Change and more of the same,” said Devine.
In addition to leading Union County’s Democrats for Change movement, Devine has been affiliated with the Progressive Change Campaign, MoveOn.org, as well as various environmental and civil rights causes.
The outspoken Democrat has also been the subject of numerous controversies but he says,” The election is not about me. It’s about the lives of thousands of Rahway residents who deserve better government.”
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