On November 5th, I'm asking the residents of Berkeley Heights for the honor of serving them on the Township Council. You can find out more about me by visiting my website, http://www.bhdems.com, and on Facebook at Stephen Yellin for Township Council.
I'm not an incumbent seeking reelection, so I can't claim to have raised and spent your tax dollars. Nor will I make any campaign promises I can't keep - such as fixing our roads, restoring bulk pickup service, revitalizing our downtown, and so forth - since I'd only be 1 of 6 if elected.
That said, I do have a record of fighting for the people of Berkeley Heights - and it's a record that contrasts sharply with my opponent, Councilman Ed Delia. I played an active, public role in our saying "NO" to the Berkeley Aquatic Center's misguided project - to build a 51,000 square foot, private swim club right next to a quiet, residential part of our town. Mr. Delia voted for it - not once, not twice, but three times.
I first spoke out against the BAC's project in 2011, after it was brought to my attention by residents whose quality of life would have been damaged if it had been built. After stating my opposition at a candidate's debate in October, I wrote a letter urging the Council to vote "No" to the proposal in December 2011. http://thealternativepress.com/articles/berkeley-heights-council-needs-to-vote-down-sewer
I don't live on Emerson Lane or in Free Acres - a 25 miles/hour street with no lights or stop signs, and totally unsuited for a facility the size of a football field to exist right next to people's homes. That's precisely why I spoke out, however - I wouldn't want so massive a neighbor next to me, so how I could support making others face that problem? As the "Golden Rule" states, "Do unto others as they would do unto you".
The Township Council and Mayor Bruno, thankfully, recognized that the BAC's proposal was "not in the long-term best interests of this town," as Councilman Woodruff said when voting "No". Councilman Hall correctly pointed out that, contrary to the BAC's claims, there was no real economic benefit for Berkeley Heights to support it, either. The vote was 5-1 against - Mr. Delia was the sole "Yes" vote, defying common sense and the "Golden Rule" in voting against our residents.
The BAC did not go away quietly, as we all know - they scraped together enough signatures to force a referendum on their proposal. At that point I joined Stop the BAC, the grassroots movement of residents determined to do the right thing for our town - to ensure that such a project would be N.I.A.B.Y., or Not In Anyone's Back Yard. I was honored to be one of those speaking for our residents when the Council voted on the matter once again in December 2012. As I said at that meeting, "You [the Council] made the right decision last year - stick to it."
Once again the vote was 5-1 against the proposal, thus sending it to referendum. Once again, Mr. Delia voted "Yes", defying common sense and the "Golden Rule", even as the Mayor and his colleagues publicly criticized the BAC for wasting our tax dollars in legal battles.
Incredibly, Mr. Delia said he voted "Yes" because houses would otherwise be built on the property; considering Emerson Lane has, well, houses already built on it, that's hardly a terrible "alternative". http://thealternativepress.com/articles/berkeley-heights-council-votes-5-1-against-berkel
When Stop the BAC began its campaign to urge us to vote "No" on the May 7th referendum, I volunteered to serve as Chairman of the campaign wing of our effort. As Chairman, I was proud to be part of a townwide effort - Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike - that rejected the BAC's misguided proposal by an astonishing 81-19% margin. Nearly 40% of voters turned out for an unusual Election Day, and every area of town rejected a facility that would not have benefited Berkeley Heights if approved.
In case you weren't sure where Mr. Delia stood on the referendum vote, here's his letter urging us to vote "Yes", written 4 days before the vote:
Compare to this my letter urging us to vote "No" 3 weeks before the vote:
The record is clear - if you voted "No" on May 7th, you should say "No" to Ed Delia on November 5th. Yes, there are other issues that Berkeley Heights is confronting - issues that I will address in next week's column, as well as on my website and Facebook page. If you're looking for a clear choice between candidates and their records, however, then the BAC referendum vote is all you need to make a good choice.
You can choose 2 candidates (myself and Mr. Pirone) who voted No, and spoke out against it, or you can choose a candidate who stood against us, our quality of life, and basic common sense when it mattered most. That candidate is Ed Delia.
On November 5th, remember how we said "No" to the BAC, and say "No" to Ed Delia!