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 John Leo 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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I believe it is the Township Council’s responsibility to ensure that the residents they represent be informed and provide ample opportunity to be involved in public discussion prior to making decisions.  The days of “they should just come to the meetings” are over.  Because the current council accepts their meetings as the only forum for resident input, the town lacks a feedback loop where residents get information and are permitted open dialogue.  We need to promote a welcoming council atmosphere while bringing facts to the residents.

  • A Council liaison should hold a bimonthly update.  The format should be that which allows residents to have questions answered and provide background on upcoming Council decisions.  This will take patience and the ability not only to hear but to listen.  I pledge to act as the liaison and will do so immediately upon accepting office.
  • Publish a digestible Financial Report.  A 2010 New Jersey Policy Perspective report recommended creating a “state-wide publication listing every tax-exempt property in every municipality and the reason for the exemption” allowing citizen scrutiny. Clear information should be readily available on how we rate against comparable towns including our use of tax exemptions. Too much tax-exempt property and the tax burden becomes unfair towards the majority of residents and long-established businesses.  Having this information easily accessible invites new business while giving residents the ability to challenge policy. 
  • With over 800 new housing units anticipated, there needs to be a forum for discussing long term projects, their impacts on the infrastructure and community as well as proposed solutions.
  • Establish as many communication mediums as possible. The lack of open communication yields an aire of a secretive administration.  Our goal is to make sure clear, factual and honest information is provided to the residents on as many channels as necessary ensuring every resident has a channel to receive information.

I've managed communication policy in previous functions having initiated communication mediums that had measurable, positive impacts on employee efficiency and job safety. I've requested honest feedback from our amazing campaign team, made my personal contact information available to constituents and most importantly maintained a humble attitude towards all input. We all need to open up sincerely and allow ideas to flow freely and act receptively and respectfully. With good communication comes solidarity inviting a welcoming atmosphere for businesses to come to Berkeley Heights.

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