BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Each week leading to the June 6 Primary election, the Republican candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Republican candidate Thomas Foregger for Week 3.

Week 3 Question: What would you like to see the Township Council do to improve communication with residents so that the process involved in governing is more inclusive/transparent? How would you do it?

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Government should be held to the highest standards of openness and transparency. It should communicate honestly and treat townspeople with respect. There is much our current Council could do to improve in this regard, and as a Council member I will not be afraid to speak out for changes.

The Council should be more transparent in its deliberations and actions. In particular, the use of executive sessions should be much more limited and use of the Contract Negotiations exception to the Open Public Meetings Act  should be strictly limited to actual contracts. The Council should repeal the ordinance passed this year that closed advisory committee meetings to the public.

There should be more opportunities for citizen input. I will argue against any straw votes or decisions being made at Township meetings before the first citizens’ hearing so there can be an opportunity for questions on those matters. The length of time for questions should be expanded from 3 to 5 minutes, and residents asking questions should be treated with respect. The Council should never again take actions like they did with the Municipal Complex, declaring the Town Hall and Library blighted and thus precluding any possible citizen vote on subsequent decisions about the redevelopment and associated bond issues. The Mayor’s roundtable should be replaced with an open forum where plans and ideas can be discussed.

I will work to have more information easily made available to residents. Bill lists and administrator’s reports should be on the town website and executive session minutes should be released promptly. The Mayor’s list of correspondence should no longer be withheld.  The use of Open Public Records Act (OPRA) exception for advisory material should be used only in very rare instances.

The Council should do more to keep the residents informed on long-term projects such as river clean-up and road repair plans and seek their input. In particular, several large condominium projects are in the works and would result in over 800 new housing units, yet there has been no forum for a discussion of the impacts this will have on the nature of our community.

Many townspeople are unhappy with the high-handed way the Council has acted in the past year. As a Council member I do my best to change this perception through more openness and transparency on the Council’s part.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in the answer are the candidate's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the candidate.