A Report on our 2 County Candidate forums and how you can watch Issue-specific Forum Segments;
What is [in the 9th] is not [in the 5th] happening with major party candidate Congressional race dialogue this election season
Plans for the 11/6 session on Municipal Transparency;
Do you have a Nomination for the Byron Baer Award on 12/11?
Forums for Candidates for County Office: On September 30 and October 2, Bergen Grassroots sponsored forums at the Teaneck Library Auditorium that involved all of the 2014 candidates for elected Bergen County office. They were the first County forums/debates of the year. Areas of both agreement and disagreement emerged in often feisty discussion. Both sessions have gotten extensive media and internet coverage.
The first session involved the 4 candidates (two Democratic incumbents & 2 Republican challengers) for the two open positions on the 7-member Bergen County Board of Freeholders (the county legislature). Then, an overflow audience attended a second spirited session featuring the two candidates for County Executive, incumbent Republican Kathleen Donovan and Democratic Freeholder James Tedesco. BGR, Inc is extraordinarily appreciative to the candidates for their participation and are grateful about the information about candidate views that emerged.
BGR, Inc. is currently building two new pages on our website where 3-6 minute video “issue” segments from each of these 2 forums can be watched. The goal is to allow you to see the candidates discuss/debate the issue(s) which are of greatest concern to you. The first page provides you with readily “clickable” issue segments from the Freeholders forum. Click here . The second one provides you with access to forum video segments that with a click allow you to watch and hear what the two County Executive candidates said about the County’s issues. Please click here. BGR has not yet made a decision as to whether to, and if so which, county candidate(s) it may, endorse in these two races.
What about the 5th and 9th NJ Congressional District Races? The Fifth first: BGR in cooperation with the Bergen County NAACP, had hoped to sponsor a Q&A session for the three candidates for the 5th Congressional District seat on October 23rd – again at the Teaneck Library. That was a date when the calendars of all three candidates appeared free . We have worked very hard to get commitments to participate from the three candidates (incumbent Republican Scott Garrett, Democrat Roy Cho, and Independent Mark Quick) because we were concerned that this District’s citizens might not be provided a forum of the sort we believe is so important . We quickly had agreements to participate from two of the 5th District candidates (though Democrat Roy Cho expressed real concern that he not have to participate in a forum when the incumbent’s chair is empty (See inset box). Our certified letters, phone calls and emails to the Garrett campaign yielded no response whatsoever from the incumbent for days on end. We finally did receive a one line email response late on Oct 14 from an official (a Mr. Glenn Wenzel) writing from the Congressman’s campaign web address. It said “Unfortunately we will not be able to participate this year” and offered no alternative date. It has become clear that BGR is one of many institutions which tried to provide a setting in which 5th District voters here in Bergen were given an opportunity to see their congressional candidates in dialogue with each other and with them. Watch here for a BGR’s statement about this race and the lack of candidate transparency for voters that is the result of this lack of election season discourse. The 9th? Note that the two major party candidates in the 9th NJ Congressional district have a session scheduled for October 27 (see blue text box)
Municipal Transparency in November: On November 6, BGR will conduct the second in a series of efforts to explore how well – and through what kinds of innovations – some municipal governments in Bergen County are working to operate more transparently and on what issues transparency matters most to Bergen citizens. In August BGR began an exploration of how different governments (both county and municipal) are doing in making information available to their citizens. A major initial focus was the Monmouth College study which rated each municipal website in the state. But websites are only part of the story. The State itself now has a municipal “best practices” list and many of those practices focus on open process and governmental visibility. BGR will be seeking to bring to this meeting public officials and advocates who will describe their experiments and ideas for how best to make these openness processes work. If yoyu know an innovator on municipal transparency – either a pbloic officiao or a transparency activist) who we should contact to inform us, drop me an email at: email@example.com (Alsok, see discussion of BGR';s earlier municipal transparency work by scrollinbg down to post 11 below and Click here on Tuesday October 21 to find out where we are on the issue and who you would suggest that we contact
Byron Baer Award in December– This award is annually given to someone who has made a material difference in carrying out for today the commitments and legislative achievements (including the NJ open public meetings act that bears the name of Byron Baer) We are actively seeking input of BGR participants and readers of this website as to who should be the 2014 awardee. Click here on Monday October 20 to find out more about Byron Baer and how you can, before November 1 make nominations to the BGR Steering Committee that will ultimately select the 2014 Byron Baer awardee please click here. Award night will be Thursday, December 11 and will also provide us a chance to review this Bergen Grassroots year and anticipate the holiday season and a new year – and we will seek your input for what should be the 2015 BGR foci.