Republicans in Morris County long fretted about the possibility Democrats would take control of the governing body in Morris Township, the mostly suburban town that surrounds Morristown. In a typical political equation, urban Morristown long has been Democratic and the township Republican.
Democrats in the township won an occasional seat – sometimes two – in the last decade or so. but that was it. Until last fall. That’s when the national Democratic surge rolled into the township and when it all subsided, Democrats had control of four of the five seats on the township committee.
Past GOP angst about a Dem takeover was partly based on a desire to win and to maintain tradition. But another part had to do with the more basic political rite of doling out jobs. Generally, town professionals belong to the same party as the one controlling the government.
But that didn’t happen here – at least not with two key jobs. When the now-Democratic committee convened last week, it retained John Mills, the municipal attorney, and Tim Quinn, the town administrator.
Jeff Grayzel, the new mayor, put it this way, “I very much wanted a smooth transition from the old governing body to our new team on the Township Committee. Both Tim Quinn and John Mills have a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge that will be important to me in running the town.
“As I said in my mayoral address, John Mills always treated me with the utmost respect and provided me with complete answers to any question I may have had – even though I was the minority being the only Democrat on the Committee. He earned his reappointment as Morris Township’s Municipal Attorney.”
This certainly seems like a welcome endorsement of bipartisanship and common sense. And perhaps GOP fears that Democrats are going to turn the township into San Francisco-east are unfounded.
But if anyone longs for politics the old-fashion way, they can take a gander to the west into Mendham Township, where Republicans still rule. Mills had been township attorney there as well, but he was replaced for 2019 in favor of Matthew Petracca, of the Parsippany law firm of King & Petracca. The “King” would be Peter King, who is counsel to the Morris County Republican Committee.
Go figure. Maybe Mills would have had better luck if Democrats had taken control of Mendham Township as well.