Saying she would rather raise Seeing Eye puppies than enter an election “dog fight,” Morristown Councilwoman Alison Deeb announced late Tuesday that she won’t run for a fourth term in the town’s Fourth Ward.
While the former mayoral- and Morris County freeholder candidate said she would not rule out some future bid for higher office, Deeb said the passing of loved ones and the meanness of politics convinced her it’s time to step down.
“The role of a local councilperson is to help and nurture others; I feel strongly now is the time where I need to nurture and help myself,” she said in a statement to Morristown Green.
Deeb is one of only two Republicans on the council. The other, First Ward Councilman Robert Iannaccone, told Morristown Green he will seek re-election as an Independent.
In 2015, Deeb emerged from a court battle with an 8-vote council victory over Democrat Justin Davis, now the town’s Democratic chairman.
Two years later she was a write-in opponent against Democratic Mayor Tim Dougherty, whose landslide clinched a third term in a municipality that is overwhelmingly blue.
‘POLITICS IS JUST NOT WORTH THE AGGRAVATION’
Among her council achievements, Deeb noted efforts to improve Foote’s Pond and preserve 12 acres of open space at the former Loyola retreat on James Street. She tried to be a bi-partisan voice of reason, asking tough questions while striving to be compassionate, she said.
But a rebuke by Republican neighbors “broke the camel’s back,” dissuading her from filing at Monday’s deadline to enter the June 4 primary, she said.
The neighbors have attended her Christmas parties as well as her father’s wake last year, and she helped get a mid-block crosswalk for their street, Deeb said. Yet they signed a petition for Democratic candidate Sandi Mayer, a member of the town Shade Tree Commission.
“Politics is rough but it doesn’t have to be ‘mean,'” Deeb said. “When I saw their names on my opponent’s petition, I was disillusioned. It made me realize that politics is just not worth the aggravation, losing friends or the $9,000 stipend council members are reimbursed.
“I honestly feel in my heart it is time to call it quits. I am just not ready for a ‘dog fight’ this fall over politics, and would rather continue to work on my own ‘pet charities,'” including more pet therapy work and puppy raising for The Seeing Eye in Morris Township, continued Deeb.
She described herself as “dog’s best friend” for championing the off-leash movement with creation of dog parks in Morris Township, Morris Plains, Parsippany, Mendham and Long Valley.
Although it’s an honor, she said, council service also is a 24-7 job that has demanded a “multitude of sacrifices.” She cited time away from her husband, and the loss of both parents and her mother-in-law during her tenure in office.
“It’s a lot to take on,” she said, adding that divisive national politics also soured her. Local service should be about affordability, taxes, roads, traffic, environmental conservation and addressing over-development, she said.
“National politics has no place in local towns. At the end of the day when I am judged for being a ‘Republican’ over a ‘Democrat, woman, well, my good friend, (comic) C. L. Thomas from Maine would say, ‘That just aint’ right,'” said Deeb, who will be honored next week by Leadership Morris, a branch of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.
Deeb has a masters degree in public administration from George Washington University and was a business consultant prior to her election. Expressing pride in her council work, she said she hopes history will be kind to her.
In the meantime, she is keeping her options open.
“Perhaps I will gear up again for a run at a higher office someday when I am ready if I am called?” Deeb said.