Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp’s had one of the more adventurous careers in Union County politics: a jettisoned freeholder who resurfaced as a leader among the New Democrats, taking up the mantle of the movement when its Moses-like figure Al McWilliams, went down.
Mapp ran for mayor in 2009 and lost to then incumbent Sharon Robinson-Briggs. He stuck at it, though, and in 2013 won, with the support of Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-22).
Now he’s up again, and charged up.
“I must say I am excited about the prospect of serving the city, enhancing public safety and focusing on bringing economic development to the Queen City,” Mapp told InsiderNJ. “Since I took office a lot has changed sand we have made significant improvements. Violent crimes have been reduced 30%. It’s a significant dent. …I have been able to put the confidence that investors have and need in our city. They are knocking down our doors to build here. We also have been able to turn around the composition of the council so that we are a progressive governing body. I want to continue the service, and the people of Plainfield will judge me on the work I’ve done. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
A native of Barbados, the son of an undocumented immigrant mom, the mayor said he finds deplorable the hate-mongering in the country generated or reinforced by the policies of President Donald J. Trump.
“The mood in the country right now is very, very sad,” Mapp said. “People across party lines are extremely disappointed and it pains us to see what is happening at the national level. The mood has pained progressives like myself. We passed a resolution making Plainfield a fair and welcoming city. I have compassion for fellow immigrants. My mother came here as an undocumented immigrant working in the kitchens and making a way out of no way. We came here as documented immigrants because of her. She had to endure hardships. We as immigrants have contributed to this country. The mean-spiritedness hurts all of us, and I hope the Republicans stand up to it.”
The council last week adopted a resolution punishing to out-of-town cab drivers, some of whom attended the meeting in protest, citing intolerance by the governing body, but Mapp disagrees, and stands by his support for the resolution.
“One of my responsibilities as mayor is to create jobs and protect businesses in the City of Plainfield,” the mayor said. “I have to protect those individuals who have invested here. That resolution is intended to protect the City of Plainfield. I had a conversation with the mayor of North Plainfield [where some of the out-of-town cabbies originate], and I told him I understood if he needs to pass a resolution in his town to protect local taxi businesses there.”
Mapp this year faces two challengers in the June Democratic Primary: The Reverend Pastor Tracey Brown, and Councilwoman Bridget Rivers. He’s alert to those critics who say his alliance with Green indicates his abandonment of the original priorities of the New Democrats, and rejected such an assessment in strong terms.
“The alliance brings two very strong-willed individuals together,” said the mayor. “Those standing on the sidelines saying I have gone to the dark side don’t understand that I have been able to sit down across the table from the assemblyman and together we have been able to engage people who have influence beyond Plainfield. This is important because it is resources for the City of Plainfield, and great for the city. In spite of our past differences, we have been able to come together. None of us is an island. We need the support of each other, and I have set aside my differences.”
Mapp shot back at criticisms by John Campbell – an affiliate of Brown’s – at last week’s council meeting over the direction of development in the city under the mayor’s watch. “I can tell you that John Campbell – whether you are talking father or son – doesn’t have a clue about the importance of development. They are the Trump/Christie Republicans only looking to do harm. I want to continue to attract mixed use development in order to get businesses into the City of Plainfield. We are depending on tax abatements. That’s the one incentive towns like Plainfield have: it’s the carrot we have to hold.’
Rivers, for her part, says that if elected mayor she will better represent the interests of Plainfield’s youth.
Mapp said in response, “I appeal to the youth in Plainfield. If she wants to hang her hat on something that is not grounded in reality, that is the campaign she will run. We have put millions of dollars into our recreation complex. I don’t know what the councilwoman is talking about. I have dedicated a lot of resources and there is a project to unveiled shortly. My enemies and opponents don’t have a platform, and so they are trying to create issues that don’t exist.”
As for the mayor’s day job – director of finance and the qualified purchasing agent for the City of Orange – he addressed his role there in light of recent reports about investigations into the city’s management.
“The investigation in Orange has nothing to do with me,” he said. “Everything I do is to the letter of the law. I don’t get my hands dirty. I know there are those hoping and praying this has something to do with me. I have no concerns. I go to Orange everyday and I do my job. I am a certified public account and I have an MBA in international business and I work for the benefit of the people.”