Booker endorses Morristown’s Dougherty for 3rd mayor term
Booker: Dougherty ‘a peaceful warrior of light’ in Trump administration
Michael Izzo , @MIzzoDR Published 3:45 p.m. ET Jan. 23, 2017 | Updated 4:44 p.m. ET Jan. 23, 2017
MORRISTOWN – Mayor Tim Dougherty formally kicked off his reelection campaign Monday morning, receiving an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Cory Booker at Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen.
Days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Booker said Morristown represents light among the darkness.
“When you think about our nation and what we strive for, this is a town that is a light. That is a beacon,” Booker said. “This is really one of those towns that evidences the best of our values. And at a time when we see a rise in so much more hatred and divisiveness, where you see the demeaning and the degrading of people who use demagoguery to achieve high offices. “
Booker said Morristown represents an ideal Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about decades ago, the creation of a beloved community.
“It is wonderful to be in a community that knows we are stronger when we work together, when we come together,” Booker said. “That’s what Morristown is to me. It’s a community that really has achieved that ideal… This town that has such a deep historic purpose and meaning in our country, this town that, for decades has constantly been pushing forward, has to continue that work.”
Booker said Dougherty is the person who should continue that work. As the former mayor of Newark, Booker said he knows what it takes to be a good mayor – the hardest job in American government – and Dougherty has it.
“Because you are on the ground. Nobody calls their senator when there is a pothole in the road,” Booker said. “From snow removal, to education, to seniors, to veterans services, to shaping a town and community through the force of will and their vision, that’s really what a mayor is doing every single day. Building coalitions and reminding us that the ties that bind us are so much stronger than the lines that divide us.”
Booker didn’t mince words in his enthusiastic endorsement. He said Dougherty is one of the county’s great political leaders and “a peaceful warrior of light.”
“You have a mayor that really is one of the extraordinary mayors in America,” Booker said. “In fact, I would say that he is among the most successful mayors in this country if you just use simple benchmarks that families care about.”
Booker praised Dougherty’s accomplishments in his first two terms as mayor, stressing the welcoming of diversity, push for affordable housing, crime reduction, and keeping taxes flat as reasons he deserves reelection.
“The fact that he has not raised taxes in this town for years,” Booker said, “And has kept municipal services getting better and better and better is a level of managerial genius that very few people are able to achieve.”
Booker said it was important for him to speak on behalf of Dougherty because he is a mayor that reflects the values of his community.
“I found myself on Friday after sitting on the dais and watching a new president get elected and listening to this dark description of my country,” Booker said. “What he described was not my country. And the broad brush with which he painted elected officials as being selfish people being concerned about their own lies and their own enrichment, wasn’t the political leaders that I know in New Jersey.”
Booker said it was important in the wake of the inauguration to “be political.”
“When one man stood on Friday and cast a shadow over this country, there is another man I know in a town that is beautiful and wonderful and bright,” Booker said. “Another man who stands up not to cast darkness but he is a source of light. Another man who stands up with his God-given abilities and has brought brilliance to our state and to our nation. Another man who says I’m going to match your darkness with light. Another to mask your ability to divide with my ability to unify. We may be a small town but we all know in the midst of darkness one of the greatest things you can do is not curse that darkness but to light a candle.”
Monday morning Dougherty stood alongside his wife, Mary, and his son, Ryan. He thanked both his wife, and also Booker for introducing him, hinting at the senator’s potential presidential aspirations in the next election.
“I’m not even going to say anything about 2020. I’m not going to bring it up,” Dougherty said. “Just stay focused on what we need in our nation right now, because you sure do have your hands full. We are going to support you 150 percent, anything that you need from us, if you need us there, we will be there. None of us has a crystal ball on what the future holds, but we will hold in our hands you, our United States senator. For as long as you need us, we’ll be there for you.”
Dougherty was first elected in 2009 and reelected in 2013. He is running with Councilwoman Toshiba Foster, Councilman Michael Elms and Council Candidate David Silva, who would be the first Latino candidate elected in Morristown’s history.
Together, the quartet repeated the mantra “Moving Morristown Forward” throughout the morning.
“We stood with Hurricane Irene, we stood with Hurricane Sandy, we had our library blow up, we had the ice storm that cancelled Halloween that everybody remembers. And it’s about those things,” Dougherty said. “It’s about snow removal, from every street in the town of Morristown so people can get in and out of their neighborhoods. Those are the things that we’ve accomplished that matter to people. That they can get in and out of their homes and they feel safe.”
Dougherty said crime is the lowest it’s been in Morristown’s recorded history.
“We keep adding two cops every year since I’ve been mayor. It’s going to be up to 14 new cops,” Dougherty said. “That’s how you really make a town safe and make it where everybody wants to live and they feel free to move about and that’s what it’s all about.”
Dougherty discussed the work he and his administration have done, including keeping the town safe, adding affordable housing and keeping taxes at a level that allows people to age in their homes.
He said he wanted to continue that work for four more years alongside Elm, Foster and Silva.
“That doesn’t happen unless the three people behind me get elected with me,” Dougherty said. “Because you need support.”.
Dougherty said his goal at the moment is winning the Democratic primary in June before focusing on the November election.
Five-term Councilwoman Michele Dupree Harris will challenge Dougherty in the June Democratic primary. She filed the necessary paperwork to run for mayor with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission in September.
“Having served on the council for 19 years, some of those years while Timothy Dougherty was mayor, I look forward to a vigorous campaign against him and his policies,” Harris said. “I feel confident that after eight years under his rule, the people of Morristown are ready for change. I intend to articulate that change in my door to door campaigning and through vigorous discussions with the press.”
Harris was on Dougherty’s team alongside Elm and Foster when he ran in 2013.
Dougherty’s accomplishments over the past seven years included reaching a tax settlement with Morristown Medical Center that generated millions in increased revenue and continuing the redevelopment of the downtown and Speedwell portions of town.
Morristown will also soon conduct a traffic study that will serve as the blueprint for infrastructure improvements, seeking to reduce congestion and increase safety.
“This project along with countless others will benefit Morristown’s residents and visitors for decades to come by welcoming new investments while protecting our neighborhoods and our history,” Dougherty said. “I am as excited about the future of our town as I have ever been. When I think about the last seven years and the positive things we have accomplished, I can only imagine what the next four will bring.”
Prior to serving as mayor, Dougherty served as a Morristown councilman and a member of the Morristown Board of Adjustment. He is also the chief engineer at the Prudential Center.
Staff Writer Michael Izzo: 973-428-6636; mizzo@GannettNJ.com
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