Pledging to create a local Service Corps to harness the talents of the community, Peter Yacobellis today announced that he would run for mayor of Montclair in the May 2024 non-partisan municipal election.
A first-term member of the township council, Yacobellis has pledged to form a local “Service Corps” to harness volunteer expertise to help run the community.
“The difference between a Montclair that controls its destiny or just coasts along being forced to change by external forces, is how we activate the talent that we already have in our workforce and in our community,” Yacobellis said. “I want kids to see themselves in their leaders, and I want people to believe in the capacity of good representative government again.”
It’s still not clear if incumbent Sean Spiller will seek re-election to a second term. Spiller, the president of the New Jersey Education Association, is widely viewed as a possible candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2025.
A former American Express executive, Yacobellis worked for New York Governors David Paterson and Andrew Cuomo and is a leader in the state’s LGBT+ community. If elected, he would become Montclair’s first openly gay mayor.
Yacobellis was elected to an at-large township council seat in 2020. He emerged as the top vote-getter in a field of four candidates for two seats; Yacobellis ran on a ticket with mayoral candidate Renee Baskerville, who lost to Spiller by two percentage points.
In a six-minute campaign launch video, Yacobellis laid out a clear vision of what his mayorship might look like.
“I don’t think it’s unrealistic to ensure that no resident goes hungry or that we eliminate crashes on our streets in the next five years. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to imagine Montclair as a better place for those who want to age in place or for people with disabilities,” he said. “I believe in a community where police officers walk the streets and high school kids help shovel snow for seniors. That’s how I grew up, and I have proof that we can achieve incredible things together.”
Yacobellis said his campaign will shift into high gear in late fall, but he’s starting to raise money now.
“I’m excited to spend the new few months building a team and developing a policy portfolio to communicate to all of you, exactly what me and my slate will do if we’re elected next year,” he said. “From figuring out how to support the school system to protecting affordability to ending crashes on our streets, we have a lot of work to do
He also said he is recruiting a team of “talented and passionate people to step up and run with me.”
“I need a team. And I’m not looking for loyalty,” Yacobellis explained. “I’m looking for dedication and ideas. I’m looking for people who are willing to do the work, be fair, be real, and offer a point of view.”
Robert Russo, a councilman and former mayor, has not ruled out running for mayor this year. He’s not expected to make a decision until after the November general election.