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.”
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.