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On Expanding Voting Rights for Women and LGTBQ+ residents: PPDO & CJPD Gender ID lawsuit: Multiple teams of women and one non-binary candidate sought to run for Committee seats without regard for gender or sexual identity. The County Clerk at the time, Elaine Flynn, refused to bracket these slates.  CJPD & PPDO candidates sued and win in a landmark case; Staci Berger and Kamuela Tillman are the first slate of two women to run together in Middlesex County and win. Veteran special needs teacher Laura Leibowitz won by provisional ballots, and was also part of a two-women team, with an MCDO candidate also winning. This decision is now the controlling law for all county committee races in NJ and multiple counties have since adopted its findings.



On Democracy in the Democratic Party:

On Environmental Justice, Clean Air & Open Space: One of the defining issues in Piscataway is the relentless building of warehouses, and the most egregious example is the attempt to turn the last parcel of rural residential property that abuts an elementary school and build two warehouses there. Community opposition to this proposal, which flies in the face of the Township Master Plan, is fierce. 


The land is under contract to builder and Machine donor Jack Morris. Concerned parents launched a new Facebook group, Piscataway Families for Clean Air, and numerous calls for other options for that property and two lawsuits, which PPDO has spearheaded. The lawsuits are pending. Supporters of the legal efforts include numerous faith leaders and the area chapter of the NAACP-EJ Committee.

Pn Transparency, Access & Public Engagement & Other Ballot Initiatives Ordinances:

The lack of transparency around warehouse developments, many of which are represented by Piscataway's own Senator, Bob Smith in his capacity as land use attorney, alarmed residents as far back as 2018.  At that time, PPDO President Staci Berger was threatened with removal from a Council meeting for trying to videotape the proceedings.  With the help of  ACLU-NJ, the public’s right to record was affirmed.


This concern was exacerbated during the pandemic, when many local governing bodies moved to Zoom but the Piscataway Council met by telephonic conference only.  Many of the Council members struggled with the technology, but refused to use Zoom or another video platform.  Minutes, agenda and proposals for all three statutory meetings had to be requested under OPRA.  Residents, led by PPDO, drafted a voter initiated ordinance to require all of these materials to be available online, and for all statutory meetings to be streamed, allow for virtual participation and be shared on cable television.


Simultaneously, and without coordination, the local EMS squads organized a similar ballot question to establish an EMS Advisory Council, to address ongoing concerns with the squads. The Mayor and his supporters opposed both of these ordinances, used illegal, non-binding ballot questions to try to use the ballot to confuse voters and claimed the questions would raise taxes in a Republican-messaged campaign, called “Just Say No.” 


The Piscataway Democratic Organization (PDO) funded a segment of the Vote No effort to defeat these ballot questions, although no vote to do so was recorded and Berger’s requests for an explanation of the Organization’s decision has been ignored. The PDO fought both questions in Court and lost, despite the questions having won in a landslide last year. Both questions are being implemented now.

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