For people wanting to know why anyone would want the job of Mayor, the answer depends on who you ask. For some it’s the power. The attention. Wanting to stay relevant.

This blog will be a place to explain what’s driving me to run.

I have been at Town Hall since my teens. I started as a director and playground leader at the Recreation Department. At 55, I’m rounding out my fifth consecutive term on the Town Council.

For two terms under Mayor Tim Dougherty, the Town Council brought numerous improvements to Morristown (thank you Tim). But more needs to be done — and, with due respect, done differently. Relations are at a low. People hesitate to bring up new ideas. Project discussions break down into “us versus them.”

I waited patiently for others to bring change, but now I know I have to bring the change myself. It’s time for policies on affordable housing, cost of living, community resources and environmental impact to have their day.

At my announcement party at the Morristown Diner, I introduced three women on my slate who are ready take on the challenge with me.

Jenna Gervasio talked about continuing the tradition of governing that began with her grandfather, a former Morristown mayor, and father, Parking Authority Commissioner, interestingly both Republican. Maria Scumaci inspired us with the story of her forebears from southern Italy, who with $2 in their pocket, settled here and grew their family into a bedrock of Morristown society. Esperanza Porras-Field asked for a seat at the table after paying her dues as a self-made entrepreneur, establishing the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and raising two Morristown graduates at the same time.

Running for re-election in 2009, Michelle Harris meets Morristown residents at a walkabout

Running for re-election in 2009, Michelle Harris meets Morristown residents at a walkabout. Photo by Michelle4Mayor.

I won’t kid you. Holding office is not easy. Under Morristown’s form of government, elected officials perform their duties on top of their day jobs. I teach full time at Alfred Vail.

And, at no time in an elected official’s life do we ever stop working. Take elections — it starts with months of door to door visits, convincing people like you to care about town government and persuading you to vote. There’s non-stop fundraising to pay for events and block parties so I can meet you, hear your concerns and, yes, persuade you to vote. Then there’s sitting through the jitters of election day, which for the Democratic primaries is on June 6, where I hope you’ll vote.

If you’re interested to take part behind the scenes, I invite you to join our canvas activities where we speak to people all over this diverse town. Or, bring your friends and meet me at Town Council meetings, which are every second and forth Tuesday of each month.

Tell me your views. We can design policies together. Millennials and newcomers to Morristown, who I’ve noticed aren’t vocal at Town Hall, should feel as welcome as everyone else.

Suggestions on issues we can work on:

  • The older of my two daughters is a special needs individual. If you are interested in creating special needs job placement programs or housing, speak to me.
  • Using inclusive dialogue to make South Street and Speedwell look and feel “equally Morristown” is something I’ve been steadily pushing; ask me about this.
  • Protecting wages, sick leave and other workers’ rights without making small businesses feel burdened is the challenge of our time: let’s talk.

Sincerely,
Michelle

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