Q: Why are you running for Watchung Borough Council?
A: I grew up in Watchung. I'm raising my family in Watchung. I believe we need representation for all of Watchung residents. We are a mix of young, old, democrats, republicans, and independents that are represented by a 100% Republican administration. It's time for us to be heard and make a difference.
Q: How do you feel about transparency and responsiveness on the Council?
A: I believe in a transparent and responsive Borough Council. One that listens - and proactively communicates - to its residents. I want a council that commits to posting issues and resolutions before they are discussed to allow residents to bring informed questions and comments to the meetings. I want a council that commits to broadcasting the Council meetings online to allow residents unable to attend to stay on top of local issues (they only now are, after we started filming with our iPhones). Our current council has operated on the assumption that people are not paying attention. We are paying attention and will not tolerate the lack of transparency any longer.
Q: What is your stance on the new proposed housing complex on Bonnie Burn?
A: This is an issue that hits home for me, as a resident of Oakwood Road East. Many of my neighbors are affected by this proposal, and they did not have anywhere near sufficient time to respond to the proposed plan. Solving income inequality begins at home, and we must do our part in providing affordable housing in Watchung per New Jersey law. But the process through which the council decided on one particular plan, with one particular builder, with zero discourse with those most affected is unacceptable. The plan we were presented in May was printed in October, and with the looming June 30th deadline to comply with NJ law, residents had no time to demand the council work on other options to comply. This is a symptom of the lack of transparency and accountability of this council, and something I will change if elected.
Q: What is your stance on taxes?
A: I am in favor of stabilizing our property taxes. I am in favor of ensuring that municipal budgets are fiscally responsible and respect the thousands of dollars each Watchung family works hard for to pay our town every year. We need to work with the county and NJ state government to ensure that we're doing everything we can to offset the crushing financial impact of no longer being able to deduct the majority of our state and local taxes. Watchung residents can't afford to pay thousands more every year when we're already paying so much. We also need to continue to maintain the level of infrastructure and services that we’ve come to expect in Watchung so that our property values (and thus our tax base) remain stable.
Q: What is your stance on our schools?
A: This one especially hits home for me: I went through our school system at a time when they were among the top in the state. I served as the student representative on school board at WHRHS. Today, we have a three-year-old and a six-month-old who will be going to Bayberry in only a few years and we are raising a twelve-year-old who currently attends Valley View. Dropping scores, declining resources and a council that’s not involved nearly enough in actively liasing with the school board worries me a lot. People put up with high taxes so their children get the best possible education in Watchung — that contract breaks down if we don’t invest heavily in revitalizing our schools and holding the Board of Education accountable as a council and as individual citizens.
Q: What about our property values?
A: According to recent sale data from Trulia.com, median sale price in Watchung declined 20% over the last year. Maybe that just means smaller houses got sold, but the more troubling statistic is that price per square foot dropped 20%, indicating a more general problem. The current council president disputes these numbers, which doesn’t make the problem any easier to solve. Our schools are likely the biggest driver in maintaining and increasing our property values. Being smart about how we fulfill our affordable housing obligations so that they don’t even further strain our resources and driving down property values is critical. And presenting A/B scenarios to the public when we make capital investments (such as the library) — the way I do in my own business — is something sorely missing from this council’s dialog. All we hear is “this will raise taxes by $30/$50/$X” without any projections of what impact the project will have on property values. Strong property values are the basis upon which our taxes can stay low and we can continue to be an attractive community for young families who commute to the city.
Q: How do we increase commuter access to New York?
A: We must make sure that Watchung is a commuter-friendly town. I want to bring back the Park-and-Ride and explore options for public transit to train stations in neighboring communities. I want to maintain accessibility to NY, especially to attract prospective homebuyers.
Q: Where do you stand on the Watchung library issue?
A: I am in favor of there being a library and community center in Watchung. I am committed to having a fair and transparent process involving all the residents of Watchung to determine how this should be accomplished. I don't think a lawsuit is a productive way to achieve this -- we can work together to find a way to keep this valuable resource in Watchung. I want to see multiple options at different price points so that the public can be fully informed as to what it would cost as well as a projection on the impact it will have on our community, property values, and quality of life.
Q: How can we stop losing power and destroying our infrastructure every winter?
A: Every fall and winter we wonder anew when we're going to lose power, when the next snowstorm is going to close our schools and force all of us to buy generators to deliver what our local utilities fail to provide. This is a solvable problem, and our current administration merely reacts to every situation instead of solving it. We need to commission a study regarding burying the power lines in some areas and we must hold PSE&G accountable to servicing our town. We need to stay on top of tree branches that are waiting to fall on power lines. We need to be proactive, not reactive to the coming hurricane season.
Q: What is your story?
A: I grew up in Watchung on Hill Hollow Road. I went through our school system and was the student representative on the WHRHS school board. I went to NYU Tisch, majored in Theater, and started my own casting company. After marrying my husband Paul, I moved back to the only town I could imagine living in to raise our young family. I have two boys, Calvin (3 years) and Judah (6 months), am raising my cousin Calee (12 years and a 7th grader at Valley View), and live on Oakwood Road East, where I'm road association Treasurer.
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