It’s been a while (and more on the blog in general over the next few weeks) but tonight is Camden’s mayoral debate hosted by Camden Action and the Camden Parents Union. 

Here are the details: 

Date: 4.29.21

Time: 7-8:30pm 

Livestream: here’s the link

There’s a lot to say about all this, but here’s three quick questions I have going into the debate: 

  1. *Will City Councilman and local party pick Vic Carstarphen show up?* My guess is not. His campaign seems to be straight out of the local party playbook — take advantage of name recognition, the serious (and undemocratic) advantages afforded by being the party pick on the ballot (see below), and avoid much controversy that might lead to negative press. But already, the party has been forced by bad publicity to move off its plan to appoint him to the end of Mayor Frank Moran’s term. It’s a major gamble to essentially abscond on running a campaign when there is a candidate (Councilwoman Felisha Reyes-Morton) who has serious name recognition across the city. 
  2. *Can challengers move from process to vision?* All three challengers (Councilwoman Felisha Reyes-Morton, School Board Member Elton Custis, and local teacher Luis Quinones) have cited process issues — such as lack of transparency and local democratic processes — as the reason they’re in the race. For insiders, it’s compelling. But I’m not sure running on process can build a wide enough base. I’m looking to see if one of the candidates has a compelling vision that will stand out and make them a frontrunner to consolidate support. 
  3. *How does Reyes-Morton differentiate herself from the party?* As a good friend put it (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘is she really going to run against the machine, on the machine’s accomplishments and platform?’. This is tricky for Reyes-Morton, who is now seeking to run an outsider, but who has been supportive of key policies like the shift towards charter schools, local tax subsidies, and beyond. There’s a risk of coming across as too self-interested here. I’ll dive more fully into her interview with NJInsider interview in a coming post, but being disrespected isn’t a good enough reason to run for mayor. 

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments. I’ll be live-tweeting the debate tonight so check me out at @SteveDanley




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