Councilman Peter Yacobellis, founder of Out Montclair, addresses the crowd at the Progress Pride Flag raising on June 3, 2022. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)

Montclair Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis, who announced he would run for mayor back in May, announced Wednesday he would drop out of the mayoral race and not seek reelection in the Montclair municipal elections in May 2024.

In an email to constituents, Yacobellis said: “I’ve reached a point in my life where I want to make choices that give me the opportunity to thrive and to be happy and healthy. Becoming Mayor of Montclair isn’t something that’s going to make me happy. I’m also choosing not to run for re-election to the Council as this really is about stepping back from this very public lifestyle overall, after I’ve fulfilled my commitment.”

Yacobellis, in his statement, said deciding to run for mayor was the wrong decision.

“On some level I think I made the decision in haste a few months ago to trap myself into a life that so many people have told me I should be living versus the kind of life that I want to be living. I ignored the churn in my gut that said it wasn’t right. I’m sorry that I did that. But it goes beyond that too. A life under the microscope just isn’t for me.”

Yacobellis mentioned physical and mental health concerns affected his decision.

“I’ll say here what I said to Ben and my family and that is that if I don’t walk away, it isn’t even a question of thriving and being happy — it actually feels like it’s a matter of disease avoidance. I feel the light inside me flickering and that I have to protect it from going out.” 

I think I made the decision in haste a few months ago to trap myself into a life that so many people have told me I should be living versus the kind of life that I want to be living. Peter Yacobellis

Yacobellis said he will finish his term and will “ask my colleagues and you the community to help me see a few important things through to fruition.”

Yacobellis confirmed the announcement Wednesday, but did not have additional comment. Yacobellis, who has lived in Montclair since 2017, ran for the first time in the May 2020 election for an At Large Councilor seat and received the most votes of any candidate. During his time on the council, Yacobellis hosted a town hall, supported an elected school board in Montclair and opposed the Glen Ridge fire services agreement. He has also had to refute conflict of interest allegations and filed a complaint against those who made them. He ultimately dropped the complaint.

Yacobellis serves as the executive director of Out Montclair, which provides year-round community building and educational opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community in the greater Montclair area, and head of Montclair Pride.

In an email to donors the day after his announcement, Yacobellis gave several options for refunding or repurposing contributions from remaining campaign funds, after all campaign expenses are paid. These included allowing him to use the funds to support “new people running for Mayor and Council in Montclair in the next cycle” or spreading the funds across Montclair-based non-profit organizations.

Liz George is the publisher of Montclair Local.

31 replies on “Yacobellis Won’t Run For Mayor”

  1. Does this mean we can repeal the gas leaf blower ban? It’s a dumpster fire with policies that he has shoved across the council.
    Good riddance…

  2. Maybe now that the Montclair Local and Baristanet have merged sites, it’s time to rethink the process of comments, moderation and opinion. The first two comments on this item add no value or insight, and are good examples of why serving Montclair on its council and other boards and committees has become a toxic experience for so many. I’m very happy for Peter Yacobellis that he’s decided to take a break from it and I hope he continues to find ways to serve while maintaining a balanced life.

  3. Welcome Erich,
    I would say that Liz’s moderation is thoughtful and measured. This is an open forum that allows us to exchange opinions, to vent, and to learn from one another. Sometimes we agree to disagree. Where the readers seem to agree is that the quality of the present leadership in this town is abysmal and alarming, and the commentary is an expression of this concern. You don’t have to agree.

  4. Erich,

    I’ll add your post to that list of yours. Peter has always been great getting his opinions and positions out there, either through his vehicles or the media. When I participated in Council and land board meetings, I always respected it was our government’s sandboxes. All chose to prevent me from engaging remotely because it was inconvenient to them. Still, I respected their sandboxes. I stay away from the BoE sandboxes because I don’t respect it and, quite honestly, they don’t respect people without children. That is just the way it is in Montclair. So, if MLocal shows a little latitude to get a diversity of opinions and comments, maybe we should respect that. If you want to know what is wrong with this town, it is people like yourself that think only way but only hear one way, too.

    PS: My experiences with Peter had me immediately look to see if he acknowledged, thanked or apologized to anyone in his very, very long message to the community. I look forward to Peter regaining his mental health and a rewarding quality of life.

    But, he needs to understand what he did to a lot of people in this town. He might want to find a sentence or two to acknowledge this.

  5. My crystal ball tells me that PY has his eyes on the Town Manager job. $216K/year? Nothing to sneeze at, especially for someone used to the cesspool at 205.

    Peter voted in favor of hiring GSG as the head hunter, didn’t he? (oh yes, he did – as part of the 4 he voted for all 3: GSG, Hartnett, and Lapolla). I wouldn’t be surprised if GSG now returned the favor by inserting PY in the big chair. If that’s the plan, God help us.

    Hey, flipside, what’s your take?

  6. I wish Peter all the best. At least he tried to engage with the community. The current town council is totally dysfunctional and needs to change for the sake of the future of this town. Does this decision leave us with only Bob Russo to choose from? I do hear that he may wish to run for mayor.

    With regard to commentary in general, if we are to hold our elected officials accountable, we should also hold ourselves accountable and at least try and maintain some decorum in our statements.

  7. I think the sentiment overall will be pro Pete. As long as we are respectful, there should be the ability to post comments that may differ.
    The publication is posting an article to highlight a newsworthy event that is focused on a council member and recent mayoral candidate.
    His outreach through news, social media and public engagement at meetings has given him a seat at the table.

    When residents are opposed to his agenda, this forum provides an ability to have a voice and create dialogue.

    To list the actions he has taken in the past that hurt this town aren’t easily captured.

    When you run for an elected office – it comes with the territory.

    No one is attacking Pete- but his policies are subject to debate and dissenting opinions.

    Respect to the moderators who are facilitating dialogue.

  8. Riteshpatel
    What exactly are you referring to with maintaining decorum?

    Has there been any instances in this thread that demonstrate a lack of decorum ?

  9. Bob needs to retire, NOT run for Mayor or anything else. Time to get off the stage for new people. He’s simply not effective enough at getting things done and it’s ALWAYS about Bob. This town needs new leadership and there are plenty of great people.

    This would be a step backwards. Sorry

    Ed Remsen

  10. Frank, I’m pretty sure a person who uses about 65 “I”s and about 25 “me” and “my”s in his letter isn’t the type of person to find a sentence or two to acknowledge anything that isn’t about himself.

    Happy Day.

  11. e.dellisanti,
    My take: The #1 rule of holes is when you are stuck in one stop digging. That’s what Peter did. I assume Peter has ambition to do something but realized that projecting a “nice guy” image only gets you so much leeway. It can’t be easy to be involved in Montclair politics so I don’t blame him for getting out and I am sure he has something lined up. Even though I am not fan I wish him well. The only way I see being effective on the town council is to run a specific platform which for me would be make the town fiscally responsible. Someone has a pet project, have at it. Pay for it yourselves. I probably wouldn’t get elected and if I did I would only last one cycle.
    As for the moderation on this site. I am not a fan but given the attitude in Montclair I understand the need. I have been censored but I laugh it off. I post on a similar blog in a town that I have long term business interests and it is so much more fun. The citizens are more politically balanced than Montclair and the comments are informative and often hilarious. No one gets offended and everyone takes it as goodnatured teasing. When there is dialogue like that a lot of great points of come out and are considered. Unfortunately, Montclair doesn’t roll that way. Maybe people are too serious or they are not as openminded as they like to believe.

  12. Flipside – can you share the other site that you often comment on ? Montclair Local is a great news source – but I like to read across different outlets.
    If you can’t share the site – maybe a name that sounds similar?
    Thank you

  13. It’s funny how life in government can come full circle in just one term. Three years ago the Finance Committee, inspired by the Jackson administration, pursued the Montclair Public Library Finances issues. As we all know, it blew up with Yacobellis, Price Abrams, Schlager & Russo having a fit over not being looped in. Then things got heated and was prepping the CFO to take the fall and some added gender disrespect thrown in by some on the dais and the audience. Now we are entertained as the Fab Four and The Outkasts play out their dysfunction…and the CFO’s attorney is subpoenaing the Council’s emails. Do you think the email trail might go back that far?

  14. Pardon,
    You are absolutely right! Yaco made everything about him and not the residents. He doesn’t care about us. According to him, He brought rent control. Last time I checked residents wanted it. LL’s sued and both parties compromised. Council had to vote for it. Next was the social worker, he wanted one. Last time I checked, Bob requested that with the senior services director. He wants credit for everything. People forget that this government is supposed to be non-partisan. It leans too much to left. We need balance!

  15. @ Ed Remsen
    I’m not going to debate you on Russo’s effectiveness. However, we should have our priorities straight. This council is a disaster. Forget about effective/efficient – this group is HARMFUL. Which is why I find your comment about Russo gratuitous and badly-timed. The article has nothing to do with Russo and Russo happens to be the least harmful in this group.

    Seems like you are letting your personal dislike for him affect your general judgment. I agree with you that Russo is not very effective. He also tends to be self-referential. But he is honest and he means well. Can you say that about Sean? No. Can you say that about Peter? No. Can you say that about the 2 women who are beholden to them? No. So why go after Russo when other ‘leaders’ are so much more problematic? The fact that you choose to attack the least harmful person on the council in this time of unrest says more about you, Ed, than it does about him.

  16. Ed, Frank, and Ritesh are correct. What one may see is that the anonymous avatars that post are typically the ones who have attacked people like Mr. Yacobellis and others who have the courage to use their real names. As a significant donor to Montclair Local, I for one would like to see name verification for all commenters here going forward. As proof, stand by and see who replies to me and how. Thank you Liz.

  17. I prefer anonymity. This is a moderated board. If a post is overly negative the moderator does not have to approve it. The moderator totally controls the overall discussion tone. Those who find their posts don’t see the light of day will get the hint.

  18. jon, I’ll take a crack at it. Avatar anonymity here has nothing to do with courage. I have the courage of my convictions, as I suspect others do. We are not the ones who hold public office. What’s the old saying about too much heat in the kitchen? If you or anyone else here disagrees with my comments, feel free to criticize. It does not make my POV less valid. Some of us may have jobs, family, etc to project. Now, if you and I were having a drink at Egan’s, I’d be happy to tell you directly what my feelings are on Yacobellis. I’ll remind you that it was he and others who were voted into office by us, not the other way around.

  19. I think Montclair should create what Glen Ridge has used for many years. A town wide committee called the CCC whose purpose is to find and thoroughly vet potential office seekers. Why do they want to run, do they understand the form of government, do they have the time and work ethic to do the job, do they work well with others, do they have any potential conflicts, etc. the CCC presents this slate to the voters. Doesn’t always win but at least there has been some homework done on those who would lead

  20. I have no idea why the “pro Peter” group is having such a meltdown about this. One called the entire town toxic. This is a decision a grown man made about himself and his future. My goodness, accept it and let it go. It’s hardly the end of the world.

  21. montyxxx,

    I don’t see the meltdown, but it is dark in here. If they are melting down, it may be because us Boomers, having ‘been there/done that’, are summoned right & left to step in to clean up all the messes. Forget the CCC idea. Let’s just run intensive adulting classes every Tuesday night and Sunday afternoon.

  22. RiteshPatel: You write: “I wish Peter all the best. At least he tried to engage with the community.”

    Sure, if we count suing two fellow citizens as engaging with the community. Maybe he could pick up their legal tabs as well, write a letter of apology to this community board, and somehow magically wipe away every internet search that contains the names Herron and Schwartz, since they are currently recognized as the objects of defamation lawsuits for all the world to see.

    Yep, that’s our Yacobellis. He’s not a home-grown Montclarion, having moved here in 2017, but he sure learned fast.

  23. So anyone from the village can donate money and make demands on how a site operates? Could you clarify for us Jon, what type of job one has to have in order to become a significant donor and make such demands?

  24. Jonbonesteel writes, “(A)s a significant donor to Montclair Local, I for one would like to see name verification for all commenters here going forward.” And someone named “Erich” states (of getitstraight and fork1867), “The first two comments on this item add no value or insight…”

    There you have the essence of Freedom of Speech and its subversion: the latter who has an opinion about others’ opinions, and the former who implies money has a place in setting the rules of engagement for speech.

    I suspect I would be no friend of “Erich” and I certainly would shy away from “a drink at Egan’s” with jonbonesteel, as opposed to the more welcoming Silverleaf (with whom I often disagree in this forum).

    But while “Erich” seems merely annoying, jonbonesteel’s suggestion (perhaps poorly presented, I’ll give him that) is downright offensive (I believe the word they use in the law is “chilling”). I hope this deeply liberal Montclair readership does not need an explanation why. But just in case…

    This is an online community bulletin board, not Speakers Corner in Hyde Park. The promise of anonymity encourages more open exchange. If some folks choose to disclose their identies, good for them. I know from personal experience, my career and my reputation would be damaged in Montclair for identifying myself. In some other town (Essex Fells maybe?) no such peril. It says a lot about Montclair, Essex Fells, and our times, but I’m used to that. It says something else that some of us who do not go along with the faddishness that passes for leadership in this town, still try to contribute an opinion.

    If some people who donate to Baristanet wish us to identify ourselves, pay an admission fee, and be ostracized to boot, well, maybe our opinions will be welcomed elsewhere.

  25. I have always supported pseudonyms here. That is about as far as I agree with either TBTF’s arguments for or Jon’s arguments against. Regardless, pseudonyms are a convenience.

  26. I kind of think this comment about what name you go under is really silly, and picky, and just like the silly and picky things that went on in the Cooler. When I signed up to comment in Baristanet I thought the first line was password. I wrote in what I thought my password would be. I thought I would then go to a page where you are asked what you want to be called, like the NYT, WaPo, etc. That didn’t happen. My bad.

    I am not hiding under a name. I am not beholden to anyone in town. I am not afraid of anyone in town. My name is Ellen Campbell. Now does that make one bit of difference? I would think not.

  27. So Yacobellis says he will complete his term. My question is, will he continue his membership in the Foul Four (was it Foul or Fetid)? In other words, is there a possibility that the Foul Four get reduced to Feeble Three? I would welcome that.

    Also, my impression of Lapolla is that he is but another Stafford, only smarter. Or at least smart enough to not scream at employees. His presence is ‘light’ – 24 hours/week. Is that sufficient? I hear otherwise. His ramming through of fire promotions is a travesty and a deal-breaker as far as I’m concerned.

    Going back to Yacobellis, I would welcome his taking action on replacing current disaster of a Clerk. Why not do a Shared Services Agreement with a neighboring municipality while the job is advertised and qualified candidates interviewed. I would really like to see our current Clerk to show her problematic “skillset” elsewhere. She would shape up so fast. No other town would put up with the ongoing dereliction of duty on her part. Ms. Nieves: why not respect the will of residents, do the honorable thing, and start over in a different town? Montclair needs a Clerk who is able to function as an independent township official, not a ‘player’ who does whatever Mayor wants and doesn’t do what the statute says.

  28. My hope is Yaco disengages. We don’t need him. He should have recused himself from LP in the first place. I think he knew he was running out of run way here, and enough people had caught onto him, that it was time to go. It will be interesting to see how all the emails and texts play out, including his, in the Rao case.

  29. Spot on, Darnell!

    Yacobellis knows that voting for Nieves’ tenure is saddling Montclair with decades of “machinations” and poor performance.

    Let’s see if his lofty words about legacy and clarity of purpose are sincere. I regret to say that I’m not optimistic.

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