Sean Spiller was elected mayor of Montclair today, beating fellow council member Dr. Renee Baskerville by 450 votes.
Unofficial tallies from the Essex County Clerk’s Office gave Spiller 4,027 votes, or almost 53 percent, to 3,577 for Baskerville.
Considering that Spiller heavily outspent Baskerville, the results were a bit closer than some people may have thought.
Then again, Spiller was under fire by a conservative group, the Sunlight Policy Center, because of his position as vice president of the New Jersey Education Association. The center’s contention is that
Spiller’s dual role will pose a conflict of interest, given the fact that in Montclair, mayors appoint school board members.
That may have depressed Spiller’s vote, but it was not enough to change the outcome. Baskerville easily won her home Fourth Ward, but Spiller won the township’s three other wards.
With Mayor Robert Jackson not running again, the mayoral candidates in this non-partisan election are two council members – Sean Spiller and Dr. Renee Baskerville. They are also heading slates of council
A virtual debate between the candidates a few weeks ago produced general agreement, although Spiller came across a bit more comfortable with the status quo. Spiller spoke of Montclair as the “envy of municipalities” across the state and supported a “smart balance” in regard to development along Bloomfield Avenue and near the train station. He said Montclair’s strength is its walkability, parks and restaurants.
Baskerville seemed a bit less bullish on the town, expressing concern with high-rise development that blocks out the sun. Saying that people moving to Montclair don’t want to live in a big city, Baskerville said it would be nice if the town landscape had a few more trees. And then she got around to education, proclaiming that the school system has lost its top ranking in the state. In some ways, education is a focal point here.
Baskerville is a pediatric and adolescent primary-care physcian who works with the East Orange school district. She is also a former member of the Montclair Board of Education.
Spiller is vice president of the New Jersey Education Association, long considered the most politically influential public union in the state. He had about $36,000 in his campaign account as of the 29-day,
pre-election filing report in April. Spiller’s fundraising included an $8,200 contribution from the NJEA political action committee and $2,600 from Marie Blistan, the NJEA president.