Dean Dafis : Love more, laugh harder and continue resisting in 2018!

Dean Dafis : Love more, laugh harder and continue resisting in 2018!

With Fire, Gratitude — and Some Greek — Dafis Takes Office on Maplewood Township Committee

 

As Dean Dafis became the newest member of the five-person Maplewood Township Committee yesterday, many of his colleagues — including Mayor Vic DeLuca — commented on his thoughtfulness.

After taking the oath of office and delivering a rousing speech, Dafis may also become known for his passion.

Dafis brought extended family members to stand by him during his swearing in. His husband George Forbes held copies of the Bible, the Koran and the Torah as Dafis placed his hand on them during the oath; afterwards, Dafis planted an affectionate kiss on Forbes.

Dafis then took to the podium extending profuse thanks to all who campaigned on his behalf, thanking his parents in particular in Greek.

Besides naming issues such pedestrian safety, retaining senior citizens and continuing the revitalization of Springfield Avenue, Dafis spoke pointedly about the needed changes coming to the Maplewood Police Department, saying he wanted to work “to rebuild the culture of our police department so that it reflects the progressive values of our community; a culture where each officer is valued, where diversity is understood and celebrated, where inclusion is intentional and practiced, where merit is recognized and awarded, where disagreement is welcome and peer intervention is possible…a department that is accountable to its citizens, its policing transparent and community oriented.”

“Already I’ve had the privilege of working on a citizens review board with my fellow activists under the strong leadership of Chief [Jim] DeVaul and Committeeman [Greg] Lembrich,” Dafis continued, “and I’m confident that we will be able to make it a reality in the coming months, marking a significant new era for the MPD and joining other towns and cities across the country which have already transformed their law enforcement into real community policing.”

Dafis also noted his major difference with his running mate Mayor DeLuca, saying he wanted “to professionalize our development process so that we’re negotiating and developing more smartly in the best interests of our town – not developers – and in keeping with the nature of our community, striking a balance between necessary change to reflect the incoming demographic and continuity so that we don’t lose sight of our identity and why we’re such a desirable community.”

But after delving into local issues, Dafis let it be known that national politics were also on his mind.

Dafis said he wanted “to resolve to stay ahead of the progressive curve as we have always done; Maplewood has led on national and state wide issues with local consequences before – such as on marriage equality and most recently, on welcoming status/sanctuary town, immigration policy/ temporary status, against ACA repeal extending the 2% arbitration cap, we were the only municipality in the state to join the friend of court US Supreme Court brief in the Masterpiece Baker case, the right to discriminate in public accommodation on freedom or religious expression grounds or belief case…….on the horizon are expanding voter rights (there was a bill introduced in the Assembly a week ago in favor of online voter registration), expanding criminal justice reforms (such as drug courts) on DACA, CHIP, social services reform.”

“Seems like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell want to take us back to the 80s and talk about ‘welfare queens’ and ‘entitlement reform’ which would include the elimination of the food stamp program entirely so many other issues my friends.”

Dafis noted that his agenda was “robust” and invoked the words of Desmond Tutu:

“Hope is being able to see that there is light, despite all of the darkness.”

In his final words, Dafis asked residents to “Love more, laugh harder and continue resisting in 2018!”

Read the full transcript of Dafis’s speech here:

Thank you all, very much! I’m deeply grateful and very honored. I stand here because of all of you, and so many others out there, we did this together. This is not about me, this is about US! Nearly 13,000 Maplewoodians voted YES to greater equity in our community this past election season, equity in representation, economic development and opportunity, in access to services, public safety, affordability and better quality of life, in education. The message of UNITY in COMMUNITY, one Maplewood for all, not Maplegood or Maplehood resonated with so many working families all across town at a time when we’re being divided by a national regressive agenda, demoralized, and as we struggle to make ends meet and take care of each other.   From grassroots activists to ordinary folks who never campaigned before to former distinguished leaders in town, you all joined us in our campaign for a stronger community and a new vision for Maplewood and you carried me to the finish line. To all of you I am very thankful.

Kristin and Heather, you were the first to raise your hands and roll up your sleeves, and you rallied for me until the very end, thank you. Reshma, Malia, Dani, your behind the scenes advocacy and support were vital, thank you. Shannon and Steve, not only have you become my new dear friends, but it was my great pleasure to campaign with you and I look forward to your staying involved and your leaving your own important footprint in the future of our town. Ian, Garnet, Robert, Kathy, Fred, Sue, David, Sheila, Brenda, and to all of our tireless and committed district leaders who knocked on doors with me and brought people to the polls, and who mentored me along the way, I could not have done this without you. To my neighbors, friends, and all of the strangers out there who took a leap of faith in me by taking a lawn sign and helped us spread the word, wrote checks, made calls, hosted gatherings in your homes (Jan and Stephanie) thank you, I will not squander your goodwill. To my fellow activists on the ground, you true progressives, you amazing warriors, Kelly, Lily, Sally, Michael, Amy, Nina, Khadijah, Kasia, Tim…and we’d be here all day if I named them all, thank YOU, you inspire me with your passion and dedication, I will look to you to keep me in line, I will ask for your help from time to time, together we are going to do amazing things here in town and flip key house seats in the midterms later this year – NJ7 & 11 look out! To the great community advocates who make up the Community Coalition on Race, you have made it possible for someone like me to come live here and serve this community, I look forward to our continued collaboration on greater integration and inclusiveness in our communities of Maplewood and South Orange. To TJ Whitaker and Walter Fields of Mapso Freedom and Black Parents Workshop respectively, I’m honored to collaborate with you great warriors to finally combat the serious inequities in our schools.

Erin, my sister from another mother, words alone cannot express my gratitude to you, for your unwavering support – at all hours of the night – your intelligence, your big bleeding heart, your wit, for keeping me in line, for being my sounding board and drinking buddy….for so many reasons, I’m so much richer with you in my life.

Frank McGehee, my brother from another mother, my dear friend, I’m so proud of you and your ambitious and accomplished first year. I knew you would be great and you’ve already shown that to the community that adores you all across town. I’m delighted to be working with you side by side on the Committee! And to the rest of my new colleagues on the Committee, I’m excited about working with you. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my predecessor, India Larrier, thank you for being a model of exemplary public service. India may be small, but she isn’t without big voice; she may have been quiet in her approach, but very thoughtful, and what a great advocate for healthcare and public health in our town!

Mom, dad – in Greek thank you – you sacrificed so much to get me here today, you put your pride aside and performed all the menial and demeaning jobs so many immigrants do in this country when they first arrive, you gave it all for me to be here today, thank you for getting me from the streets of Philly where we played stick ball on the corner, used the fire hydrant to cool off in the summer, played games on our row house front steps, roasted lamb on the spit in our tiny cinder block backyard – even though the neighbors thought we were eating our dog and called the cops on us! – where my brother Chris – very accomplished engineer in his own right – and I learned the value of hard work, customer service, and the importance of a strong community while working in our diner – yes, folks, greek-american stereotypes – mom/dad, I carry with me every day, your greatest qualities – strong conviction to do better, the thick skin and big heart of a fighter, common sense street smarts, and the resilient passion and idealism coupled with the hard work ethic of the shepherd and the farmer.

My rock, my soul mate, my trusted advisor, my best friend, my comedian, my dear partner, George Forbes, thank you for going on this journey and supporting me completely. Boy, do you have ironclad patience! I’m very lucky to have you by my side always. I love you!

I’m incredibly grateful to the tippy top star talent that is gracing us today with their talent and artistry. We’re so blessed to live in a community rich in performing arts and culture. Local talent from Broadway and beyond, accomplished performers, Tony nominated folks who are volunteering their time to us today, I’m just speechless and full of glee. Special thanks to Ilene, who composed an original song just for us today – and I hope you will join us in singing together later in the program – an appropriate anthem for our midterms battle later this year – Joanna, Madison, Marie, Erin Smith of the SOMa Youth Choir – please support this great new youth choir here in town, I love how their diverse and beautiful voices exemplify the diversity and beauty of our community, to all of the performers – 10 of them came in from NYC, these aren’t folks who don’t need a booking, they have Broadway resumes, aren’t we so fortunate (their names are on the back of the program) Thank you all! Special thanks as well to Jeremy and George, our exceptional clerk (Liz) for and to the indelible Charlie and Vanessa Pollack for coordinating our artistic program today.

It’s a powerful and transforming experience to take the oath of office and I do take it quite seriously. I’m excited about tackling the great challenges that lie ahead of us this year and beyond.

To ensure that our streets are safer for pedestrians of all ages and at intersections and crosswalks all across town. To expand upon recent successes in pedestrian safety through various traffic calming measures and increased enforcement of speeding and parking violations.

To calm traffic and parking issues in the Village in particular.

To rebuild the culture of our police department so that it reflects the progressive values of our community; a culture where each officer is valued, where diversity is understood and celebrated, where inclusion is intentional and practiced, where merit is recognized and awarded, where disagreement is welcome and peer intervention is possible…a department that is accountable to its citizens, it’s policing transparent and community oriented…already I’ve had the privilege of working on a citizens review board with my fellow activists under the strong leadership of Chief DeVaul and Committeeman Lembrich and I’m confident that we will be able to make it a reality in the coming months, marking a significant new era for the MPD and joining other towns and cities across the country which have already transformed their law enforcement into real community policing.

To professionalize our development process so that we’re negotiating and developing more smartly in the best interests of our town – not developers’ – and in keeping with the nature of our community, striking a balance between necessary change to reflect the incoming demographic and continuity so that we don’t lose sight of our identity and why we’re such a desirable community.

To ensure that our seniors who built this town can stay here, not be priced out, for them to be able to age in place if they wish through a more focused approach for affordable housing, senior housing, and responsible home sharing legislation.

To better accommodate all of the new residents along / near Springfield Avenue through commercial development that gives them options to play, grab a cup of coffee, catch a local band, shop for their groceries and so forth all while creating more ratables / increasing town revenue.

To amplify Springfield Avenue and expand on the SPA’s successes, support our local businesses many of which are minority/immigrant owned; the majority of our new residents are moving in nearby and with the further development of Newark, Springfield Avenue can and should be the new hot zone in town with its own distinct character and vibe.

To do the same on Irvington Avenue by way of establishing a IAP / business improvement district.

To work more closely with our School Board ensuring our progress in curriculum access and equity and the desegregation of our elementary schools.

To improve our communications so that we reach all segments of our population, ensuring outreach, information and active participation of our minorities in town, our sizable Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities.

To collaborate closely and negotiate strongly with the incoming Governor’s administration for necessary state aid for our schools, as we explore resources for necessary classroom infrastructure improvements, for transit infrastructure improvements, library funds, and other state grants that could be used to stimulate local business and create jobs; in these times and with the changing of the guard, we simply cannot be insular, we must have a central seat at the negotiating table in Trenton.

To effectuate our fire department merger with South Orange’s and continue exploring other shared services with neighboring towns that make sense, in other words that provide much needed taxpayer relief without sacrificing on the quality of essential services.

To resolve to stay ahead of the progressive curve as we have always done; Maplewood has led on national and state wide issues with local consequences before – such as on marriage equality and most recently, on welcoming status/sanctuary town, immigration policy / temporary status, against ACA repeal extending the 2% arbitration cap, we were the only municipality in the state to join the friend of court US Supreme Court brief in the Masterpiece Baker case, the right to discriminate in public accommodation on freedom or religious expression grounds or belief case…….on the horizon are expanding voter rights (there was a bill introduced in the Assembly a week ago in favor of online voter registration), expanding criminal justice reforms (such as drug courts) on DACA, CHIP, social services reform – seems like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell want to take us back to the 80s and talk about ‘welfare queens’ and ‘entitlement reform’ which would include the elimination of the food stamp program entirely so many other issues my friends….

Basically, we have a lot of work to do. It’s a robust agenda, and I hope you will join me, stay engaged and keep hope alive. Without hope we cannot act. In the words of Desmond Tutu:

“Hope is being able to see that there is light, despite all of the darkness.”

We are all the light, let’s carry it forward! Happy New Year; all the best blessings to you and your families. Love more, laugh harder, continue resisting in 2018! Thank you!

Source

 

Leave a Reply

Η ηλ. διεύθυνση σας δεν δημοσιεύεται. Τα υποχρεωτικά πεδία σημειώνονται με *

You may also like

Χασάν Ροχανί: Ο Τραμπ θα έχει την ίδια τύχη με τον Σαντάμ Χουσείν

Ο Ιρανός πρόεδρος Χασάν Ροχανί, αναφερόμενος στην αποτυχία του