NJ: Rogue Councilman Resigns, Calls for Independent Campaign Against Party Control of Town Government (Update)

There's an intriguing story coming out of New Jersey regarding a councilman in Englewood Cliffs, Martin Asatrian.  The Republican was elected to the office in 2009 and served as the commissioner of the police until last week when he abruptly resigned.  Apparently highly conflicted about the decision, he rescinded his resignation the next day, and then later on tendered his resignation once more.  Now he is reportedly determined to serve out his term, which would have ended in 2012, and has begun maneuvering to retain the seat, but not before launching an aggressive broadside against the town's two-party system and calling for the creation of a third party and/or independent alternative to the false choice between the town Republicans and Democrats.  Some of his language sounds strikingly familiar here at Poli-Tea. A detailed report at North Jersey.com quotes from an email recently composed by Asatrian:
"Partisan politics is a poison that runs deep in the veins of partisan dead-enders and needs to be drained and reinjected with independent blood," Asatrian said in an e-mail. He added that neither party in Englewood Cliffs has the ability to improve the borough's quality of life.
But he doesn't stop there.
"The two party system is the problem, they are too busy scoring political points against one another and forgetting they were elected to govern the borough in a mature contemplative and intelligent fashion," said Asatrian. "Although it makes for great theater, the residents will not be so entertained when their property values plummet, when their taxes increase and the prestige of the borough ends and starts to become a punch line," he said.
Interestingly, despite their political differences with Asatrian, none of the other Democratic and Republican councilman quoted in the article disagree with the rogue councilman's fundamental critique of the two-party state:
Democrat Councilman Ilan Plawker . . . agrees that the two party system does not make sense at the local level because it is not about party affiliation . . . Council President Robert Agresta, a Republican . . . also noted the two party system is not perfect.
Asatrian concluded his letter with a call for a third party and independent alternative to the false choice between Republicans and Democrats:
"The good people of Englewood Cliffs need a third choice, an independent voice, a voice for the voiceless," said Asatrian. He asks the residents to "consider the independent choice and reject the other parties — they are blinded by hate for each other, if not, the consequences are devastating to the community."
Apparently he is now planning a campaign to completely transform the body over the next two years by ensuring the election of Independents and the defeat of the Democratic-Republican machine:
"My agenda is to overhaul the governing body over two years and have all independent candidates gain seats." He wants to focus on "the party apparatus," not the individuals. "There is an urgency here, otherwise, the parties will engage in the blood sport of governance and fail to focus on the fact that the borough is in trouble," said Asatrian. "Instead of pointing fingers, we need to roll up our sleeves and solve problems — this will never be achieved through the politics of personal distraction and deep-rooted hate among the parties."
That's not bad, the "politics of personal distraction."  Is it possible Asatrian is a Poli-Tea reader?  Weren't we talking about the necessity of this precise sort of bottom-up strategy just the other day?  Or does it just seem so, since, in a way, that's what we're always talking about?

Update: Asatrian's action has led to calls for non-partisan elections in Englewood Cliffs.  From North Jersey news:

An Englewood Cliffs councilman resigned from his seat recently saying he was fed up with the borough's two-party system's focus on political victories rather than serving the community efficiently. While the borough's Democrats and Republicans have argued about who is causing the problems, this brings up a point.
Political parties may play a role in setting the government's agenda on the national level, but town councils do not need Democrats and Republicans. They need open-minded leaders to responsibly deliver their communities a good quality of life.
There are certainly examples of mayors and council members working across the political aisle, but there are just as many instances of block voting by party members.
Voting on ordinances shouldn't be done by party line. It should be done on what the person thinks is best for the residents.
You'd think that we would want elected representatives voting in favor of what is best for constituents, rather than some party, at all levels of government.  Our state legislatures, governor's houses, the US Congress and White House don't need Democrats and Republicans either. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This guy stinks.