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* McDonough Can't Quit


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Mayor McDonough announced at the March 2, 2010 Council meeting that he was not seeking another term as Mayor. Jersey Journal reporter Tom Shortell wrote an article entitled "Harrison Mayor McDonough won't seek fifth term".

Should Mayor McDonough seek re-election? I believe he should. For those of you who know me pretty well, you will know that I am not a wholehearted McDonough fan so my opinion that he should not drop out of the race may seem strange. So why I am saying that McDonough should seek re-election?

Dropping out of the race would be the easy way out. The residents of Harrison deserve a Mayor who will step up and lead the town out of its current economic mess, not someone who quits when times get tough. Decisions made by Mayor McDonough have gotten us into this mess and he has to step up to the plate and turn the town around.

On a personal level, I can understand Mayor McDonough wanting to throw in the towel. He has lost Peter Higgins, a dear friend, a sounding board and confidant. He is facing dire financial cuts both in tax revenues, state cuts, a 3.5 million dollar bond payment, school aid cuts and a growing number of unemployed town residents. The road ahead is not an easy one. Mayor McDonough had banked on redevelopment to assist him in his re-election bid but the redevelopment in Harrison has stalled and unlikely to restart in any significant way prior to November.

Four years ago I supported (former) Councilman Anselmo Millan in his bid to become Harrison's Mayor. Despite a well run campaign, the residents of Harrison re-elected Mayor McDonough. Anselmo took a sabbatical from politics and spent time enjoying his family especially his grandchildren. Despite the loss of his Councilman title, Anselmo never stopped helping residents who showed up at his door seeking assistance and advise on varying issues. Anselmo continued to work for the residents of Harrison. He realized that he could continue to help despite not having a Councilman or Mayor's title. He may have not showed up at Council meetings (despite my invitations for him to do so) but he was not afraid to call or visit Mayor McDonough seeking assistance for a town resident or to voice his opinion. If he could help, he would. If he thought something was wrong, he let you know it.

When Mayor McDonough announced he was not seeking another term, I called

Anselmo and sought his insight on the Mayor's decision. Anselmo told me that the Mayor could not quit now, the town needed him too much. I have been at Anselmo's side through several political campaigns and terms in office. I was not surprised at his reaction. Anselmo wants what is best for Harrison. At this time, Anselmo believes that there is no one better to turn the ship around than Mayor McDonough. McDonough is going to have to make some very crucial decisions in the next few weeks and months. For four years, Councilman Steve McCormick (joined a year later by his wife Councilwoman Marie McCormick) have been trying to get McDonough to change his ways. Open Government and transparency would have prevented some of the poor decisions made in the past especially those related to the Redevelopment Zone. Hopefully, Mayor McDonough will begin the process of making Harrison's government more open to public scrutiny and input. McDonough has nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

Councilman Steve McCormick and his wife Councilwoman Marie McCormick have not announced their intentions with respect to one of them running for Mayor. They have earned the right to make a bid for the Mayor's seat. Both would also be qualified to manage the town's affairs. Steve's council seat is up this year. Marie's council seat is only up next year. Marie would run for Mayor in the Primary (June) or in the General Election (November) and still retain her council seat if she was unsuccessful.

There may be other candidates who will throw their hat into the ring both for the Mayor's seat and council chairs. The next few weeks will be interesting for those who enjoy following local politics.

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