BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Each week leading to the November 5 election, the 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 Township Council Candidate Manuel "Manny" Couto for Week 1.

Week 1 Questions:

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  • Why are you Running for Office?
  • What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the elected office you are seeking?
  • What do you think the major issues facing Berkeley Heights are at this time?

Why are you running for office?

I am running for re-election to ensure key projects stay on-time and on budget, making sure promises that were made are kept, and to keep the rich heritage of this great town. Berkeley Heights is home to my family and I, and to approximately 13,500 residents. I want to give back to this town some of what it has given to my family in the 23 years I have lived here.

What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the elected office you are seeking?

I bring unique blend of skills and knowledge to the council that I believe will benefit our town. I am a father of three children, all of whom I have raised in Berkeley Heights. This has provided me with first-hand insight into the importance of keeping our town a place where our children can flourish and be safe, where families gather to spend time, and where heritage meets tomorrow.

I bring the knowledge and practical experience in handling the intricate details of business deals and budget matters that the Township Council confronts on a regular basis. My professional and Town Council experience have provided me with deep knowledge of how to best coordinate with other municipalities, counties, as well as on the state level in Trenton. This type of practical experience and goodwill enables me to protect the interests of residents and neighbors in Berkeley Heights.

I have been an active small business owner for over 30 years and I bring a vast experience in business and finance expertise. As a licenses real estate broker, I regularly negotiate matters that bring family and financing together. Understanding and handling complex business and finance matters is something I do on a regular basis.

What do you think the major issues facing Berkeley Heights are at this time?

I think some of the major issues facing Berkeley Heights are:

Taxes 

A major issue is controlling spending and utilizing our tax dollars to their maximum potential. I will work to deliver a 2020 budget without tax hikes or new spending.

Township Control of Services 

We currently run the danger of allowing Union County to manage and dictate how we run certain municipal services and our schools. I will fight for us to maintain local control of these issues. Either maintaining as a cost efficient self controlled process or as a shared service that benefits the residents of Berkeley Heights First.

Restoring the Capital Road Repaving Plan

In addition to being important for our cars, safe roads are important for our kids to be able to walk to school (or to the bus stop) without getting hurt, as well as improving the quality of life for residents. I will help restore the capital road repaving plan that will set aside money to be used solely on road repaving.

Revitalize Our Downtown

We are fortunate to have businesses in our Downtown who are invested in seeing our community thrive. I will work with our local business owners to revitalize our Downtown to make it a destination location for our residents as well as residents from neighboring towns. Some of the newer projects will improve our sidewalks, our downtown, use standardized lighting and signs, and bring additional revenue to the town to help control the expenses. Berkeley Heights deserves a walkable and attractive downtown to showcase the work of its volunteers, families, and rich history that founded Berkeley Heights.