Are we surprised that Mayor Derek Armstead is once again up to his old tricks? Nah, not us here in Linden. But maybe you will be…? Another year, another campaign season. This one, much like the last few, will be sure to keep you reading.
Today, thousands of Linden residents received new text messages out of the blue saying “Thanks for Getting Back to me.”
(wait what, I didn’t say anything!)
It was followed up by the classic “You’ve agreed to receive messages from Team Armstead.”
(Again, no I did not)
Now now, I am not here to chastise the Mayor for campaigning through a text service, although I wish he wouldn’t do it in his office during work hours. Nope… I am not mad at him or his team for this. You see, his team is motivated. Armstead has done a great job incentivising his employees with promotions, titles and substantial raises.
However, I am writing this for a reason. Just moments after receiving the first batch of unsolicited texts, thousands of residents received another text message from the text service. This time it read, and I quote,
“Mayor Armstead here! Please support my Board of Ed team running on column 1 this November. Call my office at (908) 474-8493 to discuss with questions. Thanks.”
Now, it’s one thing to be campaigning from your government office, that’s just a little bend of the rule (this is Jersey after all). But don’t you think it’s a little blatant to be campaigning from your government office, and then telling people to call your government office to talk about it?
This is where us Lindenite’s go “Cmon MANNNN.”
But we have grown accustom to this. Something like this happens every single campaign cycle in Linden. In fact this is a minimal infraction when it comes to what we have seen from Armstead over the last few years.
On Halloween last year, Mayor Armstead marched into the Union County Administration Building (where he was once employed) and tried to convince an employee to convert a student emergency contact list that he “somehow” obtained from the Linden Board of Education. Hours later, Linden parents were bombarded with campaign texts reminding them to “Vote for the Armstead School Board Team”, even though they had never before been contacted by the Armstead Campaign Team.
I’m sure that was just a coincidence right? Union County wasn’t to happy about this. Here is their response they issued.
On that same weekend last year, his PR consultant James Devine/CMD MEDIA concocted a 30 page glossy magazine called “The Linden Progress”, and mailed it out days before an election. Yes, this magazine hit mailboxes in Linden on GOTV weekend 2019 and probably cost taxpayers over $50,000. Check out the cover it’ll crack you up.
All of this has created quite the rocky relationship between Linden and the rest of Union County. Funny that just last week, Armstead suggested that Linden should secede from Union County because (and this is a direct quote unfortunately), “Union County is like an expensive woman, we can’t afford her.”
I really wish I was kidding… but I’m not. This may actually be a surprise to you…but for us, this is just another day in Linden.
Even as I write this, Mayor Armstead is hosting a back to school supplies night where he is using city resources while openly campaigning for his new school board candidates. Hear it from The Mayor himself:
Now what do we do? He’s very open about how he operates. We would consider alerting the authorities (again), but past attempts have yielded negative results over the last 2 years. They’ve been alerted to a whole host of unethical issues, but somehow even after an allotment of subpoena’s were dropped off at Linden City Hall, no charges, no fines, no slaps on the wrist, nothing.
Now I may be just thinking out loud here, but, perhaps this is why Mayor Armstead continues to operate in the manner in which he does; a manner that has no regard for the laws in the State of New Jersey.
John Francis Roman serves as Councilman of the 6th Ward of Linden. He is a life long Linden resident and a former idealist.