Porras-Field counters Dougherty’s glittering endorsements with 47 shiny police badges

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Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty has racked up some big-name endorsements —  from Gov. Phil Murphy to Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Mikie Sherrill — in his bid for a fourth term.

On Thursday, his Democratic challenger, Esperanza Porras-Field, garnered support closer to home: From Morristown cops.

PBA Local 43 voted 47-7, with two abstentions, to endorse Field in the June 8 primary. It may be a first for the local, “but that’s how important we feel this is,” said union President Dennis Bergman.

“Community policing starts with a healthy relationship between the town administration and our union members. Esperanza’s views on community policing align with ours as well as other issues facing our agency members. We work for the community and look forward to strengthening relationships between the town leaders as well as community leaders,” Bergman posted on the PBA’s Facebook page.

Last month, the PBA accused the mayor of political corruption, via digital signs on a truck parked near the Morristown Green.

Morristown PBA Local 43 President Dennis Bergman, in front of sign truck calling for the mayor’s ouster, April 1, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Dougherty, a union man himself, on Wednesday defended the officers’ right to endorse candidates. He attributed their disaffection to a contractual dispute.

“They sat down, we had lunch. They offered support if I did X,Y,Z, and that wasn’t going to happen. They have to negotiate contracts with the business administrator, not the mayor,” Dougherty said during a League of Women Voters virtual candidates forum.

A sampling of testimonials for Dougherty:

Mayor Tim Dougherty and gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy in Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade, March 11, 2017. Photo by Bill Lescohier.
Mayor Tim Dougherty and gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy in Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade, March 11, 2017. Photo by Bill Lescohier.

“As Mayor, Tim Dougherty has earned a reputation for principled, forward-looking leadership and always puts the residents of Morristown first. In response to the many challenges of the pandemic, Mayor Dougherty is supporting hard-hit small businesses, delivering real results, and moving Morristown forward.” –Gov. Phil Murphy.

Sen. Cory Booker swears in Mayor Tim Dougherty to third term, at Morristown reorganization meeting, New Year's Day 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Sen. Cory Booker swears in Mayor Tim Dougherty to third term, at Morristown reorganization meeting, New Year’s Day 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Mayor Tim Dougherty loves his community and is deeply committed to the residents of Morristown. As a former Mayor myself, I know the job is not always easy, but time and time again, Mayor Dougherty has risen to the occasion; as he has done throughout the pandemic, where he continues to help families and local businesses get through this extraordinarily difficult period. I’m proud to endorse Mayor Dougherty for re-election and, together with Councilwoman Toshiba Foster, Councilman David Silva and Nathan Umbriac, I know he will keep Morristown moving forward.” — Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Mayor Tim Dougherty with Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.) and Brian Lozano of Wind of the Spirit at Team 26 reception in Morristown, April 26, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Mayor Tim Dougherty with Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.) and Brian Lozano of Wind of the Spirit at Team 26 reception in Morristown, April 26, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Confronted with the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Dougherty was steadfast in his leadership of Morristown in a moment when his residents needed him most. I am proud to endorse his candidacy for reelection and look forward to continuing to work with him to deliver for the people of Morristown. Plenty of work lies ahead, but Mayor Dougherty has proven he’s ready for the challenges ahead and will always put Morristown first.”  –Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.)

“Morristown without Mayor Dougherty would be like the Mets without All-Star pitcher Jacob deGrom. Morristown has enjoyed great success with Mayor Dougherty’s leadership: A vibrant downtown with many small businesses, taxes that have decreased five times over the last ten years, and protection of 11 acres of open space. That’s like having a World Series winner every year.” — Former Gov. and state Sen. Richard Codey (D-27th Dist.)

Dougherty, who works at the Prudential Center in Newark, served on the Morristown council prior to winning the mayoralty, a part-time position paying $27,000. He also is a voting member of the town planning board.

Council candidate Esperanza Porras-Field at Harris slate campaign kickoff, Feb. 17, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Esperanza Porras-Field in 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Porras-Field, a Colombian immigrant who founded the Morris County Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce, is making her fourth bid for public office.

She ran for the Morris School District board in 1994, the Morris County Board of Commissioners in 1997, and the town council in 2017.

She is a realtor and has served on the town planning board and the Morristown Parking Authority.

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  1. History shows us That political incumbents usually always back other incumbents.
    The main reason is “$$$ money ,” not ideas or justice . More beer for them!
    Less fundraising work for them ,and more security for life time elected officials. Sad indeed. Are people paying attention?
    One note here,try to call or have a conversation with any of those elected officials mentioned in the endorsements. Almost Impossible to have a one on one with any of them. What does that tell us? Sometimes a staff member answers the phone but most of them act like they are “rock stars.” Reality! Very bad job . Forgot their Mission?
    They seemed to have tuned out the residents as well. Terms limits anyone?
    The current mayor in this article does not tell the whole story of his troubling issues with the great Morristown police Dept.
    He fails to mention his single handed hiring of a “public safety director “who comes from his hometown in Essex County.
    Hiring a buddy to help him be a watch dog over law enforcement in Morristown? The town already has both a police and a fire chief. What was the mayors reason for hiring his connected contact? More control? Access to the police monitors and cameras? Why does the mayor need that? Is that even legal?
    Was the safety director hired to simply get rid of the previous Morristown Chief , who the mayor seemed to have issues with? He does not address any of this. I wonder why not?
    What does the safety director really do all day? Who defies his duties? Where is his working activity report? What hours does he put in? Who knows? Only one person, guess who?
    Plus handing out another $100,000 + plus public Job to this Safety director on the backs of the tax payers when property taxes are already the highest and going up?
    Also the mayor needs to address all of the lawsuits filed against the town , his administration , his cohorts and close contacts.
    Also the question should be asked about how much money has been paid out to private Consultants , who are receiving large tax payers dollars ,when the taxpayers already Employ a town planner?
    What about legal fees paid out to a few favored attorneys who are getting $100’s of $1000’s of dollars in billed hours for extra legal work? Taxpayers money!
    What about how many developers are not being required to make sidewalk and road repairs when they build here? Sweetheart deals? Who is getting paid?
    Who is watching this?
    What is being paid out?
    Where can a resident get this data and information ? Only the political insiders know.
    Many live in fear of Morristown, fear of retaliation if you question or go against an administration that has been known to bully anyone who does not march Along with them. The Local PBA must be aware of the bully tactics as well.
    Elections are based on accountability and examination of the issues that effect our day to day lives. Voters can decide issues about honesty and integrity . They are not all sleeping or just robots who do what they are told. We still have freedoms that were fought for by so many!
    Sadly ,Most places in the world do not allow the freedoms of speech
    we have here in the USA. We have a right and a duty to get honest answers. If we are being misled or stonewalled it is time to remove those who are not looking out for us and our needs. Very simple.
    Esperanza ( which means HOPE in Spanish) has conducted herself during this election with class and dignity . She is educated In academics, business and social services ! That is her record. The incumbent is simply well connected and does not like to tell us what is really going on. How much longer will the residents put up with this?
    Miss Field will be putting the residents First 100% ahead of any personal gains for her or people in her network. Can we say that about the incumbent and his behaviors?