TAPinto Hawthorne sent a questionnaire to the candidates to help residents get an idea of where they stand on some issues as election day draws near. 

The Third Ward council seat was won by the late Garrett Sinning (R) in the 2019 election.  When Sinning passed in November, Anne Marie Sasso and Michael Sciarra sought to fill the seat as interim-councilmember, with Sciarra ultimately carrying the council's vote.  As interim-councilman, he would serve until a special election was held in November.  There are three candidates seeking the votes of Ward Three residents.

The responses received by TAPinto Hawthorne are listed below. 

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The candidates are listed in last-name-alphabetical-order: Craig Cayetano, Kimberly Maciejewski, and Michael Sciarra.

As a matter of policy, TAPinto.net in general and TAPinto Hawthorne in particular extend no endorsements to candidates and afford equal opportunity to all.

 

CRAIG CAYETANO (Green Party)

Website: https://www.cayetano4council.com

What special experience do you bring that will benefit the residents of Hawthorne by serving as Ward 3 council member that sets you apart from your competitors?

CAYETANO - I am constantly involved in the community with cleanups and working with our local small businesses on events. I attend council meetings and make comments. I think we need more than the status quo, a younger approach, fresh face and someone that brings new innovative ideas to the conversation. I think we are missing that element on the town council now. I have been campaigning in the streets, going door to door, writing and talking to people since last year's race for town council.

I grew up in a low-income household and can relate to people's day-to-day struggles during this ongoing crisis. I have worked as a veterinary technician and at sales, which allows me to have compassion, objectivity and the ability to negotiate on behalf of the residents of Ward 3. I am an environmental activist that is involved in numerous groups: Hawthorne Environmental Commission/Green Team, Passaic County SPCA, ANJEC and the Sierra Club. I helped to start a mutual aid group: Mutual Passaic County during the pandemic, am a founding member of Voter Choice NJ and am currently one of the state co-chairs of the Green Party of New Jersey. I work with people every day, in many different capacities and can put aside partisan party politics to forge a path ahead together. I’m not someone that is just going to fall in line. I stand up, speak up, make objective decisions and am a listener.

I have a full fledged website, platform, and a social media presence and have made this fun for our supporters. Running as an Independent Green Party candidate means I’m not taking any corporate money and my ideals align with all. I have a lot of support from Republicans and Democrats. I have had numerous campaign endorsements by people putting aside parties, including BOE members, residents, activists and organizations. In local politics it’s about the person not the party. Please consider supporting and voting for us -- 6D for Craig!

What is your overall vision for the borough of Hawthorne and how do you wish to implement that vision if you win?

CAYETANO - I envision a Hawthorne in which we unite as a community and welcome all who come to reside here. A thriving neighborhood with a robust small business based local economy. A town that offers a different feel than those around us with more arts and creativity. Even more green spaces, improving our infrastructure and working to preserve the environment for the future we deserve. I’ve been advocating for everyone to complete the census this year and I’m sure once we see that data, our population will grow and trend younger. We have to realize this and embrace different cultures and races. I’ve advocated for another flag pole so that we can hold dedications for other ethnicities and fly the progress pride flag.

I want to see us utilize the bandshell even more for events that focus on this as well. We could host a Passaic County Pride Festival at our borough bandshell. This would be a monumental step for our town and the county!

We had an amazing Solidarity March for BLM this summer that woke up the town and put us on the map. Many towns were amazed by the response and turnout we had. I’m very grateful for and respectful of our police, but we still need body cams and to discuss a few other items presented in the Call To Action we issued then. I can sit down and as an independent voice be the bridge between the arms of government, the police and our residents. There is no harm in a new direction when it comes to these issues. These are some of the advantages and strengths I bring to this council seat.

What do you think are three (3) specific matters that need addressing going forward with respect to Ward 3 concerns and how would you do so?

CAYETANO - Five Corners - Interest in the property is starting to pick up with new developers or potential new owners. I’ve publicly stated I would not support any commercial or retail space here. I’ve proposed that we work with the county and state to have them procure the land to turn this space into a Visitors Welcome Center. Goffle Brook Park does not have adequate parking on that end of town and the existing structure can be utilized as a space for the County Parks and Recreation Department. They can repurpose the canopy of the gas station and put solar panels on it.Install electric vehicle charging stations underneath for guests to use. The solar panels would power the stations and the main structure. There is the ability to fit approximately 15 cars for parking on the property. This will solve the issues of parking and easy access to that end of the county park. My approach will finally end the ongoing controversy at the space. The residents in the surrounding area, including myself, would welcome it only being used from dawn until dusk. There will no longer be a debate about another gas station, convenience or retail store bogging down that corner. The intersection is very tricky and any retail store would add an influx of traffic which potentially leads to accidents and congestion. I think this is the perfect solution and I would work towards coordinating efforts with the county and state. Here are photos of what it could look like on my campaign website: https://www.cayetano4council.com/future_focus_sustainability

Speeding and Safety - The last few years I have spoken up and made public comments at town council meetings about the need to implement more safety measures. Pedestrians, bicyclists and joggers need to feel safe on Rea Ave Ext., Goffle Rd., Goffle Hill Rd. and Lafayette Ave. Ext. While some recent stop signs and flashing crossing signals installed are nice, more needs to be done. I propose to reduce the speed limit on county roads, more police patrols up through the ward at night and installing speed plates. If North Haledon can be successful in reducing the speed limit on their county roads so can we. We need to have more patrols up these arteries of the ward. Every night there are vehicles that race outside my house up and down the hill and it's only a matter of time before an accident occurs. Speed plates installed at some of the cross streets will help reduce the amount of vehicles cutting through to save time avoiding traffic lights. I will gladly work with our county on these efforts.

Bike Pathways - Another important need is proper bike pathways to the center of town. If we installed bike corrals near major sections of the ward in downtown we could decrease the need for driving into the business district. You could bike to Sprinkles, Mr. Cupcakes, Stewarts, Olssons and other businesses. My idea is a more expansive bike pathway to connect Ward 3 with the whole town, schools, municipal pool and train station. If needed we can secure grants from the state and schedule a traffic study. I’ve laid out a tentative plan and bike pathway on my website as well.

What do you think are three (3) specific matters that should be addressed which affect the town as a whole and how would you do so?

CAYETANO - Pan Chemical - A future focused plan to remediate and utilize the space on the demolished property. I’ve laid out a plan that might take years but we would work with the county, state and NJ transit to build a proper parking garage, offer bike corrals, electric vehicle charging stations and a state of the art train station with proper shelter and bus stop added. A suitably constructed parking garage will afford our residents proper parking and utilize our train line more. It will also free up parking on Washington Ave for the residents there and on Grand Ave for businesses. This will help increase ticket sales out of our location which could lead to better train and bus services for our residents. I would work to bridge the negotiations on this important project.

Sustainable Future - Part of bringing our town into the 21st century would include installing electric vehicle charging stations which would benefit our business district, installing solar on the borough hall and municipal pool to power those structures and the bandshell. Start to install solar powered trash and recycling bins across town. We would analyze and work towards migrating our town’s power to sources that are renewable. We would evaluate a plan to migrate some of our municipal vehicle fleet towards electrics like other towns across the country. There are grants available to help offset the cost of some of these initiatives while the rest would eventually end up saving us money within a few years. You need someone like myself who works with the Environmental Commission and Green Team to help lead the charge and educate the rest of the town on the overall benefits. This is mentioned in my platform here: https://www.cayetano4council.com/ecological_wisdom

Business & Artistic Focus - We need to attract even more small businesses. I do not support big box chains and want more diverse culinary food choices and a small grocery store. I’ve called on us to embrace a younger, more artistic vibe like Boonton or Somerville with a nice downtown layout like Maywood. I don’t want us to be another Ridgewood or Glen Rock but align with the arts segment of our community. Recent successes like the revamped Rea House, Art In The Park, businesses like Rebel Child Designs and with Color and Whim opening here soon, it is clear that now is the time.

It would be great to have a restaurant row on Diamond Bridge and expand outdoor seating in the future there. It would need to be discussed and have input from the local businesses. I would want better seating, tenting, lighting and a stage to draw out performers would make the space like the pedestrian plaza in Jersey City or recently created in Montclair. We would need to explore adding a dedicated 15 minute parking for our businesses.

I would love to see us work to fill existing structures before exploring building more. I don’t support any more eyesore looking storage units which bring down homeowners property values, gas stations or convenience stores. I do hope that the new one slated for 204 Wagaraw will be designed to look like the townhomes set for that property. Westwood recently forced the developer there to do that when they installed a structure there which helps it blend in. You need someone to do outreach to the small businesses with connections throughout the state to lead these efforts. I mention this in my platform here: https://www.cayetano4council.com/community_based_economics

These are just some of the skills and benefits I bring to council. Please check out our website and social media for more. You can also call 973-433-6696 or email cayetano4council@gmail.com - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

 

KIMBERLY MACIEJEWSKI (Democratic Party)

Website: https://www.facebook.com/maciejewskiforcouncil/

What special experience do you bring that will benefit the residents of Hawthorne by serving as Ward 3 councilmember that sets you apart from your competitors?

MACIEJEWSKI - After graduating law school I spent 10 years practicing as a Conflicts of Interest and Ethics attorney.  Several years ago I shifted careers and now work for a Wall Street financial advisory firm, advising on corporate and business conflicts and regulatory issues.  I am a daily professional problem solver and consensus builder as I help navigate complicated conflicts, all while supporting and growing business.  

As an ethics advisor, I know that doing what is right must always come first, and I have the unique ability to discuss and provide counsel to others to help them navigate complicated ethical issues.  I'd bring that same moral compass and spirit of problem-solving and consensus building to the Hawthorne Council, helping our leaders see beyond politics or personal disputes to help put the interests of Hawthorne residents first and build and support our neighbors and local businesses.  

What is your overall vision for the borough of Hawthorne and how do you wish to implement that vision if you win?

MACIEJEWSKI - When my husband and I chose Hawthorne to call our home, we were attracted by the beauty, charm, and immense potential we saw.  That potential still exists, it just needs leaders who think and act proactively in order to see it come to fruition.   While the ability to call up your local councilperson to report an issue is part of the beauty I see in our community, it shouldn't take a phone call for a problem to be identified.

Proactivity means showing leadership and appointing committees to identify existing issues and then putting in the hard work of developing and implementing a plan to get things done.  We need to work together to find solutions for attracting more high-quality businesses, developing empty storefronts, and improving the health and safety of our residents through the cleanup of environmental hazards.  On day one I will work with my fellow council members and ask the hard questions including: why aren't we attracting more families, why don't we have sufficient commuter infrastructure, and why aren't we attracting the kind of businesses our community needs to keep tax dollars inside the Borough.  Only then can we make changes to town policies and code that will proactively address these problems and help keep Hawthorne building for the future.

What do you think are three (3) specific matters that need addressing going forward with respect to Ward 3 concerns and how would you do so?

MACIEJEWSKI - Five Corners - The development of "Five Corners", the site of the closed down Shell gas station on Goffle Road, is a constant topic in Ward 3 politics.  As a council member, my job is not to insert my opinion and tell my neighbors what I think should happen to the property, but rather to ask their opinion and build a consensus and plan for moving forward.

As the Ward 3 council representative, I will immediately create an open forum where we can come together as neighbors and have our voices be heard on what this space should look like.  Comments would be collected online via a specially created page on the Borough website, and comment boxes will be set up at the Library and Borough Hall.  After, special forums will be hosted to communicate and take additional commentary on the opinions of the submitted proposals.  

The Borough then should act proactively to implement the neighborhood's preferred course of action.  This may involve working with State and County officials to help convert the space, or working with the landowner to attract a different type of business to suit the neighborhood's needs.  The goal should be to put a plan into place for the future of this site and begin executing on the development by the end of 2021.

I have opinions and preferences as a resident on what Five Corners would ideally look like, but I am only a single voice.  I want to work together with my Ward 3 neighbors to come up with a plan for this space that improves our town and builds community partnership and engagement.

High School Drop Off and Pick Up Safety - While the COVID-19 pandemic has created lower levels of vehicle traffic along Warburton and Parmelee avenues, eventually our schools will re-open with full attendance.  Previously I've advocated for a review of the pick-up and drop-off traffic patterns surrounding Hawthorne High School for both the safety of the children and the surrounding residential neighborhood.

The proactive approach would be to consider now making changes to Parmelee and Warburton traffic during school drop off and pick up hours.  This would include additional safety measures along Warburton, such as the lengthening of the no parking areas to alleviate the "blind" nature of the Parmelee/Warburton intersection and considering stop signs and speed bumps along Warburton.  The Borough should also consider the State of New Jersey's own "best practices" recommendation for schools located in residential areas and investigate designating either or both Bamford and Parmelee ave as one way during the morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up hours.

Utilization of Goffle Park for Community Building Events - In recent years Passaic County has made significant improvements to Goffle Park, a large stretch of which resides in Ward 3.  The Borough should be working with the county to utilize this space for regular community-building events.  This beautiful open area creates the potential for a variety of musical, art, and other events that could help bring together residents from all corners of our town.  While there are occasional informal programs hosted by residents, the Borough should develop a commission that helps formally promote regular gatherings and entertainment.  This will be even more important as the Borough and our country begin to open back up after the pandemic has subsided.  

What do you think are three (3) specific matters that should be addressed which affect the town as a whole and how would you do so?

MACIEJEWSKI - Smart Economic Development - Too many Hawthorne residents currently go elsewhere to shop, eat, work, and play while many buildings remain vacant or undeveloped.  The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem as existing businesses were forced to shutter due to state restrictions and health and safety concerns.  Now is the time for Hawthorne's leadership to take proactive steps to help attract business to Hawthorne to fill our empty storefronts and serve the needs of the community.  

Numerous programs exist to help our town identify the areas of "economic leak," specific categories of business where Hawthorne residents leave the area to shop and spend.  We need to utilize this data, along with community feedback, and come up with a proactive and comprehensive plan for attracting new businesses and redeveloping sites that are currently in disrepair.  

We also need to support existing Hawthorne businesses by promoting regular events that showcase the diversity of food, goods, and services they offer.  In warmer months, for example, the Borough could consider initiatives such as "Thursday Night Art Festivals" in Goffle Park or along Diamond Bridge and/or Grand avenues, inviting local artists to mix with food vendors and performers.  The Borough should also work with Passaic County to make the outdoor dining area from this past season a permanent fixture.

Inclusion - Another key characteristic of a thriving town is the feeling that everyone is welcome and appreciated.  This attracts families, businesses, and development.  If there is anything that 2020 has taught us its that we all need to do a better job of embracing our neighbors regardless of politics, religion, race, or sexual orientation.  I believe Hawthorne needs to take a much more proactive stance in promoting a sense of inclusion of all individuals.  

The Mayor took a much overdue first step this year by calling for the creation of a Hawthorne Pride Alliance.  While I applaud this new group and their efforts to make the LGBTQ community feel welcome in the Borough, much more needs to be done.  As a council member, I wouldn't wait for a recommendation to raise the pride flag in 2021, I would make the proposal myself along with the erection of a second flag pole at Borough Hall so that various other communities and causes can be proudly supported throughout the year.  In connection, I would also propose that the borough host and promote monthly events both in person and via the online platforms, in an effort to educate and connect our diverse residents.  This new inclusion initiative would work alongside groups such as the Pride Alliance to ensure all of Hawthorne's residents feel welcome and invested in bettering our community.

Modern Transit Center - As a council member, a key focus would also be working with New Jersey Transit, state, and other authorities to help develop a modern, safe, and attractive transit center for residents who commute for work or pleasure using the NJT rail system.  The former Pan Chemical site is an ideal candidate for transformation into a commuter hub to ease residential congestion from current train station parking and attract additional business.  While the building located on the property has recently begun to be demolished, the area remains an eyesore and an underutilized property that could be serving the needs of the community.

Hawthorne should immediately begin the process of evaluating transit center options including cleanup of the Pan Chemical property's environmental contamination, and opportunities for purchase or partnership with NJT to develop the site into a modern commuter hub and aim to have a plan in place by 2021.  This is an example of another vacant space in our Borough that needs proactive leadership and a plan of action in order to convert the current hazard into an asset for residents.

In closing, Hawthorne needs new ideas and a proactive approach in order to reach its full potential and better serve its residents.  I encourage everyone to vote for new leadership to help implement much-needed change and support our current residents and businesses.  Most importantly, however, I would simply encourage everyone to vote, regardless of candidate or party.  All voices deserve to be heard.

 

MICHAEL SCIARRA (Republican Party)

Website: https://reelectmikesciarra.com/

What special experience do you bring that will benefit the residents of Hawthorne by serving as Ward 3 councilmember that sets you apart from your competitors?

SCIARRA - Experienced, existing councilman and former Board of Education Trustee and past President.

History of Community involvement, Board of Education Trustee for 5 years.

Coached Special Needs Football and Rec Soccer.

Special need advocate and member of the Hawthorne SEPAC Special Education Parent advisory Council.  As a parent of a special needs child, I understand the importance of awareness and acceptance and focusing on diversity and inclusion throughout the community.

Business owner - as a business owner, I have had an opportunity to have many different types of experiences, building relationships with people from CEO to the entry level employee. Budgeting, Inventory Control, managing P&L. 

What is your overall vision for the borough of Hawthorne and how do you wish to implement that vision if you win?

SCIARRA - Focus on quality of life issues, community and family values.

Improve dialogue and communication with residents.  Using social media I started shooting PSA videos highlighting some volunteer groups, services and local shops that are available in Hawthorne.

Continue to improve Hawthorne infrastructure and road system.

Embrace welcoming new residents into the community- It’s important to embrace new residents when they move into the community.  With help from the Mayor and his administration staff, we were able to develop a New “Welcome Bag” to provide information and resources for a new resident along with a welcome letter from the Mayor.

Capitalize on NJ.com, which has recognized Hawthorne as a hidden food gem.

Expanding the arts such as the Borough Band Shell.

Promoting small business and shop local.  Businesses are still struggling to survive, it’s now more important than ever to shop locally and support our small businesses, they are the lifeline of our community.  They are the same businesses that supported the schools, fundraisers and sports teams and employ many local residents in the community.

Keep taxes law and Hawthorne affordable for the young and old alike.

What do you think are three (3) specific matters that need addressing going forward with respect to Ward 3 concerns and how would you do so?

SCIARRA - Five corners empty Shell Station on Goffle Road - There have been a lot of ideas floated on what the property should be, some interesting and some good.  I would like to see the property be consistent with the neighborhood that affects the residents that are directly impacted in the area.

Speeding - I’m happy that we have recently addressed this issue with a Traffic Supervisor, Speeding has always been a concern for residents and having someone that can now evaluate and determine the best course of action towards public safety.

Managed redevelopment of vacant properties - Smart planning of properties that may become available, such as 3 Ronson “Patriot Hills” property on Goffle Road.

What do you think are three (3) specific matters that should be addressed which affect the town as a whole and how would you do so?

SCIARRA - Pan Chemical property - This property has been an issue for many years, Recently work has been being done as pre-deconstruction, to bring the buildings down to the slabs.   Site remediation is the responsibility of the previous owner, Pan Chemical, and is being undertaken under the direction of a state-licensed LSRP (Licensed Site Remediation Professional) to ensure compliance with state regulations, with oversight by the NJDEP.  I would envision a commuter Train Station where additional parking and small business would enhance the commuter resident experience and elevate the community.

Empty store fronts - Currently working with the Economic Development Committee to help revitalize empty storefronts in the borough.  

Respect for our neighbors - Working together on what unites us, not what divides us.  Work on common goals together.  Let’s show the rest of the country what make Hawthorne a special place to live and be #Hawthornestrong.

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