By SEAN M. SPILLER
Special to Montclair Local
Montclair is widely recognized as one of our state’s foremost progressive communities. It is a well-deserved reputation, earned by years of standing up for our shared values. Increasingly, the ideals for which Montclair stands have come under attack from political leaders both in New Jersey and nationally who seek to divide Americans instead of bringing people together and protecting one another.
The gubernatorial election last week posed a clear choice between these two worldviews. There was a real chance that New Jersey could have fallen back into the hands of those who would take our state backward — just like we saw nationally in 2016. I’m proud to live in a community like Montclair, which wouldn’t let that happen.
In Montclair, we stood together and produced an overwhelming majority for Democrats up and down the ballot, especially for Gov. Phil Murphy, just as we did in 2017. In a race that could have gone either way, the votes delivered by our community were critical in making sure New Jersey not only remains a blue state, but more importantly, stands strong against forces that wish to dismantle our democracy.
Leading the way on progress is part of what makes Montclair such a special place to live. That journey is not always easy or without friction, but we are united on the fact that progress must be the focus. When Montclair leads, communities throughout the state take note. Locally, we stood up to Donald Trump, declaring Montclair was a safe community for our immigrant neighbors, welcomed Afghan refugees, made strides in hitting green energy goals, all while working to make Montclair financially sustainable.
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During the coronavirus pandemic, all communities have had to face challenges that have impacted our families, our downtowns and our collective futures in unique and sometimes unexpected ways. Such is the nature of a profound, generational crisis. We may not always agree on how exactly to address our challenges, but we all hold closely the shared values of democracy, justice and equity.
There is so much more that brings us together than divides us. It is our unity of purpose and conviction that makes Montclair strong and that led once again to delivering overwhelming support for continued progress under Gov. Phil Murphy. It’s an honor to call Montclair my home and I am proud of what we stand for.
Re-electing our Democratic governor is just the beginning of so much vital work that needs to be done. In Washington, under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrats have passed a desperately needed physical infrastructure package and are on the verge making even broader critical investments in the American people as well.
Despite the progress we’ve made, the threat remains from forces who offer a darker, more divisive vision for our state and nation — a vision where free and fair elections do not determine who leads our county and that doubles down on reversing the progress we have made. In the face of this threat, it’s more important than ever that communities like Montclair continue to light a path for others to follow.
From the local level here in Montclair, to the state and federal level, progressives must show that government can be a force for positive change. Our future depends on working together on common goals and shared interests. It is by delivering tangible results that improve the quality of people’s lives that we can best make the case our vision is worth fighting for.
Sean Spiller is mayor of Montclair.
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