Editor's Note: TAP Into Basking Ridge asked each of the four candidates for Bernards Township Committee to answer the following questions. The following responses are from Sally Booth, one of two Democrats seeking election. Responses from each of the four candidates competing for two three-year committee seats will be posted over the next few days. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Election Day, Nov. 7.
1) How long have you lived in Bernards Twp., and what is your political and civic experience, including any achievements you'd like to highlight, and any other personal information you would like to add?
My family moved to Basking Ridge when I was 15 years old. My mother saw this community as special; a great place for families. After I became a mother, my husband and I, also decided that this would be a wonderful place to raise our own family—so we did. My son Jack and my daughters Eleanor and Madeleine are all graduates of Ridge High School. Over the last 26 years, I have been a member of the League of Women Voters, the Junior League, a founding member of Somerset Hills Lacrosse, the Municipal Alliance, the Board of Education and a proud democrat. In fact, 20 years ago I ran for this same position. I am currently a public school teacher in Somerville, New Jersey and sit on the Board of Trustees for BRICK, a non-profit school in Newark, New Jersey.
2) Why should Bernards Township voters select you to serve on the Township Committee?
I was raised to believe that people, or even one person, can affect change. I have therefore never been afraid to stand up for what I believe to be right. I am passionate about ensuring that things are fair and that everyone’s voices are heard. As a lover history and a political science major, I have been inspired by the founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Both documents exalt The People. The current local government is not faithfully conducting the business of the people it represents. We the people not being heard or respected. Democracy requires different perspectives. We need to have a dialog not a monologue. As a teacher, I am a good listener, a creative thinker and a collaborator. These skills are well-suited for town government.
3) What do you like about living in Bernards Township? What would you like to improve about the township? What future changes do you envision in the township?
I love the people of Bernards Township, the schools, the open space and the small-town feel. What I would like to improve is the transparency and openness of the town government. For too long, the residents of this town have been shut out from the business of running the town. I believe that we need to include all of our residents on the committees and task force that the town offers. We should not have non-residents serving on our boards, commissions and authorities. I will also ensure the development at Dewey Meadows and the redevelopment plan of the Quarry is undertaken with proper financial and environmental oversight to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents.
4) What specifically would you like to accomplish if elected/re-elected?
Our town has changed since I moved her in 1975, and is still changing. I think, for the better.
According the Draper Report, the increase in public school students has been entirely in ethnic minority students, up 64% since 2006. There are 48 different languages spoken as the primary language in Bernards Township homes. The change is obvious as we go door-to-door and meet all the diverse and interesting people of this community. Basking Ridge is a great place to live because of the people, not because of the governing body
If elected we will ensure that our boards and task forces reflect the changing demographics and diversity of the town. We will address and tackle head on the mental health challenges facing our town. Having a triple A bond rating and being debt free means little if we have children suffering and drugs are infiltrating our schools. We will make sure that we follow the law and that are ordinances are appropriate for our changing land use needs. We will insist that all residents will have input in the decision-making process. We will be fiscally conservative with your taxes and waive our salaries to demonstrate our commitment to service, not self-interest. We will make sure that your tax dollars are used to support priorities that matter to the majority of our residents. We will not become complacent, and commit to listen to all voices.