Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp wants to make history this year as the first mayor in the city’s history to serve three consecutive terms in New Jersey’s Queen City. The Union County city’s first mayor, Job Male, who donated the land for the city’s library, served three terms, but not consecutively.
Prior to holding office, the mayor served 12 years on the City Council, and as Union County Freeholder from 2005 to 2007. Former leader of the resistance movement New Democrats, who first sprang to citywide victory in 2013, Mapp sat down today with InsiderNJ for a Zoom interview to consider his reelection bid. This year, the mayor faces Board of Education Member Richard Wyatt, Second Ward Councilman Sean McKenna, and Dr. Henrilynn Ibezim.
In a wide-ranging interview, the mayor discussed the unique challenges he continues to face in the COVID-19 era, his city’s $86.5 million budget, his expectations of an infusion of federal funds, his George Floyd Police Reform Commission, homelessness, development and his unique Union County political history.
The birthplace of jazz legend Bill Evans, downtown Plainfield once boasted a Bamburgers, Lord and Taylor, four movie theaters, and an economy boosted by the local Mack Truck plant. Of course, the troubles of 1967 changed the course of Plainfield’s social and political history.
“Plainfield is a microcosm of everything that has happened in America in the last 50 years,” former Mayor Mark Fury told InsiderNJ. “It was once a town where whites occupied one side of town and basically went wherever they wanted and blacks occupied the other side and stayed there. Since the riots, it has shifted to an African American city with an obvious influx of Hispanics, but where African Americans have most of the political power, within the context of a statewide politics where they don’t, and in a sense, Plainfield is a great laboratory to see how African Americans behave with power concentrated, and control their own destiny.
“African Americans only got into the game 50 years ago, post Voting Rights Act, and around the country there is still pressure to reduce the voice of the black electorate, as we see in Georgia,” Fury added. “But Plainfield doesn’t have those problems.”
How will it do with its own problems and its own self-rule within the larger machine – that is the question for the mayor, an outsider who finally forced his way into City Hall and now runs with the Democratic Party establishment behind him.
Development remains a hot button issue in Plainfield. Most developers know if they go to Plainfield, they’ll likely get a PILOT and will not have to worry about mixed-use development. What long term impact if any will this have on the overcrowding of schools, sewer capacity and other local issues?
Mapp criticized New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for sending his homeless population to New Jersey and Pennsylvania instead of providing them shelter in New York. Plainfield’s homeless population continues to increase but the homeless shelters provided by the city are now closed. What’s the plan to address homelessness in Plainfield?
Mapp gives answers in his InsiderNJ interview below: