Dear neighbors, 

There are two very different choices for who will represent Ward 1 on the Common Council for the next three years. I urge you to vote to re-elect Susan Hairston for two main reasons. 

First, Susan Hairston has experience serving the Summit community. Eileen Kelly does not

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Susan Hairston is a fourth-generation Summit resident. She is a product of the Summit public school system. She has served this community in multiple capacities for more than 30 years. Susan served as President of the Board of Education. She was on the Union County Tax Board, and she also held leadership positions at Fountain Baptist Church and the Mayor’s Forum on Diversity. All of this culminated in her election last November to Council. 

Eileen Kelly has lived in Summit for less than three years. She has not served on any city boards or commissions. 

Second, Susan Hairston has articulated a clear vision for the future of Summit. Eileen Kelly has not

Susan Hairston’s record in her first year on Council is extremely impressive. Susan understands the importance of fiscal responsibility. As BOE President, she was responsible for the school budget which is the largest chunk of our tax bill. Using that knowledge, Susan made sure this year’s municipal budget was as lean as possible. She voted to approve this year’s operating budget with a 0.14% increase and the lowest capital budget in more than a decade. Susan has worked hand in hand with the police department through the pandemic and has been instrumental in the transition to a new police Chief and promotion of command staff. Susan trusted their expert judgement and led the charge on installing new four-way stop signs that will improve safety. Susan thinks strategically and holistically about individual projects, and she voted to approve the necessary repairs of the Broad Street East Garage. 

Eileen Kelly has been publicly critical of the process on each of those issues but has never actually taken a position on any of them. Eileen called for a budget workshop, but Council had already postponed voting on the budget which enabled us to have two additional meetings during which people could comment and ask questions. Eileen called for greater transparency (even though she knew they were on the agenda) when stop signs were discussed, but she has never said whether she supports their installation or not. When speaking about the Broad Street East Garage, Eileen inaccurately stated the city would borrow the money for repairs and questioned whether this was the right time for such spending. In fact, Council simply appropriated the funds from an existing capital account, and the timing was perfect because we were able to complete the project on weekdays which saved more than $50K in labor costs. 

Eileen Kelly either does not research the issues, or is willing to purposely mislead the public. Eileen campaigns in broad generalities, but meaningful public service on the governing body in Summit requires more depth. 

Susan Hairston does her homework and always tells the whole truth. Most importantly, she speaks in specifics about the future. She passionately advocates for diversity in the police department, more resources for our health department, and pushing ahead on the redevelopment of Broad Street West because she understands clearly how those things will lead toward an even greater Summit for all of us. 

Thank you for reading,

Greg Vartan - Summit Common Council Member, Ward 2