Editor's note: As we count down to election day November 5, The Alternative Press of Summit will present a series of profiles on candidates running for local and district office. Similar to the ongoing Meet The Leaders series, the objective is to provide our readers the opportunity to hear from the candidates regarding their background, their motivation for seeking public office, and their take on our present and future outlook. In order to keep the format consistent, The Alternative Press presents each individual with the same five questions. We publish their answers unedited.
Today - Summit Common Council Candidate - Ward 1 - Mike McTernan
Background / Biography
I was born in the Bronx and moved around a bit before going to public high school in New Jersey. After attending Dartmouth College, where I graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Economics and History, I began a 26-year career in finance with a few major banks, spending time in New York and London. I worked in and managed distribution businesses, where I learned to achieve results with limited resources while balancing the demands of various constituents. For the last year, I have been working in Summit as a private investor. My wife Julie and I moved to Summit 11 years ago. We have four children who keep us busy – a son at Summit High, two sons at the Middle School, and our youngest daughter at Oak Knoll. While in Summit, I’ve been active in youth sports, having coached basketball, soccer and baseball. I was also on the Summit PAL board (2011 past-president) and am District Enrollment Director for Union County for my alma mater.
What led you to pursue a position in public office?
I am running for Council because, like many in Summit, I want to give back to the community that has been so good to me and my family. Local government is important – what it does or doesn’t do can have a huge impact on our community and the lives of our neighbors. I now have a flexible enough schedule that I can devote the time and energy necessary to do the job well. With my background in financial services I am comfortable with strategic planning, numbers and operating within tight budgets while achieving results. I believe many of these experiences will help me be an effective council person for Summit.
What are the biggest challenges facing Summit?
Some of the biggest challenges facing Summit are the high cost to live here (especially taxes), parking and maintaining the assets that make Summit such a wonderful place to live, especially the quality of our schools and the vibrancy of our downtown area. Merck’s decision to relocate and sell its property in Summit will be a particular challenge for the town, as finding the right new owner will minimize any impact on our tax base as well as possibly enhance the reputation of Summit as a place to live and work. It’s imperative that the town works with both Merck and any potential buyer to promote the best outcome for Summit.
What are the biggest opportunities for Summit?
A great opportunity for Summit is getting the improvement plan for the Downtown area of Summit right. With the designation of our downtown as a transit village and a historic site, we have an opportunity to make the downtown someplace really special. Rolling out shared services is another great opportunity for Summit to provide services more effectively, at lower cost.
What would be on your "to do list", if elected?
I want to work with council in a positive, transparent way to promote the best interests of the taxpayer. We need to focus on longer term planning to incorporate technology advances with productivity enhancements that will mitigate the growth of government. I’d also promote exploring new technologies, like switching our fleet of municipal vehicles to run on cleaner, cheaper, and American-produced natural gas for example.
What are five words to describe Summit?
Historic, Beautiful, Community-Minded, Family-Oriented, Home