Seizing the center
While dueling letter writers quibble over who came out looking worse during Teaneck's summer of discontent, one individual at the center of much of the swirling controversy is quietly padding his credentials and look toward the future. While political enemies continue their attempts discredit Mayor Katz and his Council allies, the Mayor himself has begun using the media more effectively to position himself as a moderate leader and dedicated public servant. This constitutes quite an improvement from earlier efforts and may serve to reposition him as a formidable figure in Township politics just in time for the next round of Council elections.
In Sunday's Record, Katz made all the right moves in commenting on an issue of importance to him. For years, Katz has been a promoter of additional parking in some form or another, especially in the Plaza area, though his proposals and the Council's RFPs have been met with limited enthusiasm. Katz wisely took advantage of the opportunity to balance his views with a declaration of the importance of protecting residential areas. Similarly, in local coverage of recent meetings on the future of North Teaneck Rd., Katz managed to come off a sensible and concerned participant in the deliberations who was willing to advocate for the residents. And to cap it off, the latest edition of the County Seat contains a photo that will do more for Katz's political fortunes than the infamous pastrami shot, as he is shown at a lunch with Hackensack officials to discuss a shared services arrangement.
There was little doubt that after a strong performance in the 2006 elections, Katz had lost a bit of his luster once installed as mayor. Around the time of the controversy over the parking lot in Brett Park, it became clear that Katz's widespread popularity and carefully cultivated image as champion of all of Teaneck was somewhat imperiled by his method of governing. To his credit, he seems to have learned from his mistakes and it appears that his opponents' continued petulance and negativity has allowed him the opportunity to move back to the center and regain his place as a pragmatic and likable leader. He may emerge from all the political sniping as a stronger and more mature public figure.