Many of you reading this letter will know that I’ve been involved in local government for many years, including running for Town Council myself. Through this I’ve come to understand how our Council works – and how it doesn’t – more than pretty much any ordinary citizen can. That’s why I hope you’ll join me in voting for Bill Machado and Rina Franchino on Election Day, November 3rd.

Bill and Rina are, like most of us, ordinary citizens who are not part of the current governing circle but are running to make a positive difference for our town. While the Council does a lot of things right, there is room for improvement that only fresh leaders can make. For example, the Council doesn’t do nearly as much to actively communicate with us residents on a regular basis. Why are people surprised when a building like CVS gets built, or parishioners at Little Flower Church don’t know about the “land swap”, even when these projects have been in the works for years? That’s a communications problem, and Bill and Rina have the solutions to fix it. This is not because the Mayor and Council members are bad people; they just disagree as to what extent they ought to devote time to actively engaging the community. Electing Bill and Rina means we’ll have Council members with a different set of priorities, and in my view a better one.

They’ll work to televise Council meetings, something Councilman Pastore has not accomplished despite 5 years of leading the effort, and stream them online, too. They’ll work to set up an e-newsletter to keep us informed, just like the Recreation Department does, and bring back the print version to make sure we know what’s going on. That’s the kind of forward-thinking leadership we deserve, and it’s reason enough for me to endorse them. I wouldn’t if I thought they couldn’t do right by us as a community but I know they’ll do just fine. They may not know all the answers now but neither does anyone who’s running for office for the first time – I certainly didn’t.

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If you want change at Town Hall – and I feel we could use some change – then Bill and Rina should be your choice no matter what party you belong to. To vote for them is not to vote for “Bickering Heights” – a nightmare invoked by the local Republican team last year, and one they may well invoke again – but for more open and constructive dialogue, both at Town Hall and in the community as a whole. Please vote for Bill Machado and Rina Franchino on November 3rd. Anyone interested in helping get them elected should contact me, either on Facebook or by email (stephen@bhdems-dot-com).

 I’d also like to take this moment to recommend my friend, Jill LaZare, who is running for State Assembly this year. Jill is a tough, tenacious attorney who’s helped pass legislation to keep our children safe. While I have great respect for our present Assembly members, Jon Bramnick and Nancy Munoz, I know Jill’s energy, intelligence and fair-mindedness would be an asset to our district. I trust her to serve us well in Trenton and hope you’ll give her the chance to do so.

Above all, please vote on November 3rd. We could be facing the lowest turnout in modern memory due to a seeming lack of “worthwhile” races. Nothing could be further from the truth – who serves on your Town Council, or the Board of Education, will often have more of an impact on your daily life than the President or a Congressman. Make your vote count, and please vote for Bill, Rina and Jill.