RAHWAY — Without explaining which of Democrat James Devine’s well-documented criticisms of City Hall are less than accurate, interim appointee Samson Steinman launched an attack on his challenger and called the Democrats for Change tactics “slanderous” in a pre-recorded phone message broadcast to voters Wednesday evening.
Steinman, who was appointed to fill the job on an interim basis after his nearly three-year crusade to get rid of Mayor Rick Proctor yielded a resignation in September, is campaigning for ‘re-election’ to the post although he was never elected by voters.
Among his top issues, Steinman claims he reduced crime in the city by 35 percent, in an apparent response to a New Jersey State Police report showing that local police solved fewer than 25 percent of the crimes reported in the city last year.
Without mentioning him by name, Steinman took several shots at Devine, who managed all for former Mayor Jim Kennedy’s re-election campaigns and supported Renee Thrash in her 2010 Democratic primary challenge to Proctor.
Steinman was Proctor’s campaign manager four years ago. In that job, Steinman chaired the committee that paid for a campaign mailing that made an overt appeal to racism and produced a turnout among several hundred white voters who were not even Democrats, a fact Devine said will be an issue in this contest.
Devine has also charged that Rahway overcharges homeowners on property tax bills because residential property assessments are wildly inflated, and particularly unfair in comparison with taxes on corporate landowners.
One frequent example is Merck, the global pharmaceutical company that got a one-third tax reduction in 2011 while stashing $55 billion in profits offshore to also avoid paying federal taxes.
While Steinman made no statement to refute Devine’s campaign arguments he steered clear of the challenger’s call for a series of public debates.
Since making his debut speech as the city’s appointed leader, Steinman has boldly asserted that “Rahway is heading in the right direction” while Devine counters that change is sorely needed due to rising taxes, high unemployment, widespread foreclosures and failing businesses, political corruption, growing inequality, neglect from uncaring politicians in City Hall and a host of other evidence.
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