Get To Know Manuel Couto, Republican Candidate for Berkeley Heights Township Council

Manuel Couto

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - There is a contested Primary race for the Republican race for Berkeley Heights Township Council between incumbent Ed Delia and newcomers Peter Bavoso and Manuel Couto. TAP into Berkeley Heights has contacted the candidates and offered the opportunity to be profiled by answering the same six questions. 

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, June 7. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Manuel Couto responds:

Sign Up for E-News

1. What Expertise will you add to the council?

A phrase used lately is, “Manuel Couto, can brings a new skill set, rounding out the council with his training as a Realtor® and business owner.” What that means is that with 30 years of working with people and the business community alike, as past President of the Meadowlands Board of Realtors, and working with NJ Realtors® on various committees, I have learned how to listen to people and create a win-win situation. That place where all parties can agree what is best, for the common goal. In this instance, the common goal controlling our own destiny and what is best for the Township of Berkeley Heights and its residents. TOGETHER, that can only be achieved by listening, disclosing and sharing information, and by staying focused on the goal.

2. As Taxes continue to grow, and the population of the town expands, do you think there will ever be a time that the taxes will become stable or reduced?

The expense of running any town, same as a business, or a family, is constantly stressed by various factors, both internal and external. Efforts to stabilize taxes can only be done when every council person is actively searching for alternative sources of funding. This means we must collaborate with the Board of Education, Union County and State officials to secure maximum grant funding for projects in our town, such as sidewalks, road repair, park and recreational improvements to supplement or replace local tax dollars. It is NOT enough to attend meetings, you must aggressively pursue any stakeholders in both public and private funding that can assist the town with alternative funding. The Safe Routes to Schools grant and NJ Transit and NJ Transportation have several programs, as does Union county. We must research and apply for any and all grants for which we might be eligible. We are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars and our residents deserve all Council members diligently seeking and obtaining these funds. This takes deliberate planning and not re-active action. Taxes affect the affordability of our homes and homes values. We need to seek to keep our town affordable to all residents.

3. Do you have a vision for Berkeley Heights in 5 years and 10 years? How do you see the town? Would you be happy with a tow with half single family and half multi-family homes?

Residents deserve a safe, people friendly downtown. A downtown where people can gather, shop, talk, and relax with green space and with stores that meet their needs. This must be balanced with an infra structure that can best utilize the public transportation hub available and housing that can match tomorrow’s needs. Growth is assumed to always happen, and right now, I think the town is at a nexus of planning that can best increase values to homeowners, while planning to keep the small town feel. NJ monthly once had Berkeley Heights as number 6 Best Small towns to live in… I think we were under-estimated. I think that proper planning today would maximize the benefits to homeowners and residents tomorrow. RESPONSIBLE development that meets our needs and complies with legal mandates and that do NOT waste our tax dollars on litigation or unnecessary expenses. Today’s housing lifestyles are varied and we need to recognize this and plan accordingly with all community stakeholders to ensure our small town feel. We need to improve the place we call home, for new families, as well as our seniors.

4. As a councilman, how will you support the business community?

Communication and collaboration. The volunteer Downtown Beautification Committee is doing a great job in working with the council and local businesses to create a more uniform and attractive downtown. Local input, planning and participation in the committees are always welcomed and needed to make any plan work. It’s not just passing ordinances, but it means getting out there, talking to the Chamber of Commerce, corporations and individual businesses, as well as residents. Collaborating with local business means: voices are heard, acknowledged and then worked into a plan that improves the business community to a place that the entire community is proud of. None of this is just “pretty signs” but an integral part of an overall plan to improve the downtown business district that attracts both shoppers and business alike. I believe that also, by adopting and enforcing ordinances that keep the town on path should be a goal of all Council members, and well as the business community. If we work together in unity, the success is so much sweeter.

5. How will you improve communication with the residents and businesses of Berkeley Heights? How would you handle misconceptions seen on social media sites?

It has been mentioned that the township web site is being updated to better serve the public and create one central point of information where residents can see what is happening in Berkeley Heights. This should create a central point of information that can tie into the media outlets presently used, such as: TAP, GL TV, and the Mayor’s round table. The web page must be consistently updated and maintained so that the most accurate information is available, and there must be a system for the public to contact city officials. The public is always welcomed at the Town Hall meetings and can address their concerns in an open forum with the council, and the Mayor has been consistent in his round table discussion reviewing the meeting and answering questions. It’s also the job of the council members to be visible in the community, listening to residents and possibly conducting an Open House/or Town Hall meeting forum where concerns may be brought up for discussion. With the number of social media sites, both public and private, misconceptions can only be controlled by one focused central point of contact that can then disseminate the correct information. Not everything you read on the internet, is true.

6. Do you believe there are better solutions to infrastructure issues in town?

I believe that there is always room for improvement (except for maybe my linguini with clam sauce), and that takes an active partnership between the public, the private sector, the business community, corporations, State and county officials, and the municipal council. Planning for the expected by utilizing experts, exploring solution based alternatives, and utilizing any potential State, Private or Federal grant dollars are paramount to improving our quality of life, now and in the future. This can only be done if we work TOGETHER to go FORWARD. Pointing fingers and saying no without a sound fiscally conservative rational solution does not work. Only by listening, sharing idea, and working TOGETHER can the town successfully go FORWARD.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

I will draw on my experience to deliver a great future for Berkeley Heights

May 22, 2018

I am impressed with the day-to-day leadership of our Mayor and Town Council and I hope to help them continue to do great work. As I have been doing my research since deciding to run for a seat on our Town Council, I have learned a few things about all the work that has been happening in recent years.  For example, while plans for the Stratton House development were recently announced, our ...

Christopher Rinaldi for Town Council - Leadership, Judgement, Experience

My name is Christopher Rinaldi.  As a long-time member of the Republican Party, I am running in the Republican Primary on June 5th for Township Council and Republican Municipal Committee of Berkeley Heights.

As a follow-up to my Candidate Statements from the last two weeks, I would like to share with you a few areas of direct work experience garnered over the past 25 years that I believe ...

Redevelopment: Taking the First Step Together While Protecting Berkeley Heights

Redevelopment. It’s something that takes careful planning, foresight, the ability to negotiate for the most favorable outcome, and, of course, patience. I’m proud to say that we’ve been able to reach all of these milestones. Tomorrow, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, we as a community will take the first step together in the culmination of these efforts, when the ...

How the Holi Color Festival Came to Summit; Event Planner Shares Her Story

May 21, 2018

Back in India, Holi was a holiday observed by almost all states. The holiday would be declared at all educational institutes and offices. It's a two day spring festival also known as the festival of colors. The festival signifies the victory of good over bad, the arrival of spring with the fragrance of flowers in the air and aura of warmth and happiness.

Holi festival is the time ...

Rain Didn't Dampen Our Vision for Art in the Park

The rain did not dampen our vision for Art in the Park!! Columbia Middle School was transformed into an art paradise, filled with an array of artists whose talents are nothing short of magical! The Peppertown Park Art in the Park Committee would like to thank all of the artists who came to our very first Art in the Park event. We are in awe of your creativity and immeasurable talents! You all ...

Taxes up, Services down.....At least someone is listening

Do you feel as if you are getting good services from the town for what you pay in property taxes? I don’t, and wanted to thank the one Council person who voted NO on this year’s municipal budget which will increase your taxes by more than 3 percent, exceeding the cap.  Thank you, Susan Poage, for listening to taxpayers.

When our Mayor grants raises by executive order ...

Host an International Exchange Student

May 21, 2018

EF High School Exchange Year announces annual search for student exchange host families in communities across the New Jersey

EF High School Exchange Year—a division of EF Education First, the World Leader in International Education—has kicked off its annual nationwide search for caring host families to welcome exchange students into their homes. Last year EF connected over 3,000 ...

Berkeley Heights Community Pool Set to Open May 26!

Tired of the rain and ready for the sun? We sure are! The Berkeley Heights Community Pool at the YMCA is slated to open during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend on May 26! With only one month until summer starts, swimmers can get a headstart jump into the pool during our pre-season opening! 

Join the Berkeley Heights Community Pool at the YMCA today—there are no joining fees, and ...

Mountain Ridge Bible Chapel Presents Special Women’s program


Mountain Ridge Bible Chapel, 763 Mountain Avenue, Berkeley Heights, is very pleased to host a unique free seminar for women on Saturday June 2, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

The speaker will be Doctor Ruth Schwertfeger of Brookfield, Wisconsin. Ruth was born in Northern Ireland, is a retired Professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  She speaks several languages, and ...

Kids Can Change The World

Karen De La Maza is the founder of “Kids Can Change The World”, a program designed to instill humane values in children while developing essential life skills and positive leadership. Karen and her family relocated to NJ from her native Mexico City in 2008 for her husband’s job.

Karen has always had a strong passion for helping people in need. With ten years of experience in ...

Fallout Continues from Lawsuit Against Mountainside; Police Chief on Administrative Leave

May 19, 2018

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – Police Chief Allan Attanasio is the latest member of the police department to suffer repercussions from a complaint filed against the borough on May 11.  Attanasio, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, was “placed on administrative leave,” on Thursday by Borough Administrator and former Police Chief James Debbie, said  Lt. Joseph ...

Video Shows School Board Member In Altercation With Police at Traffic Stop in South Orange

May 16, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - South Orange Maplewood School Board Member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad got into an altercation with a South Orange police officer who stopped her for speeding last month, in which she used profanity, complained when she was issued a ticket and called South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll “a skinhead cop.”

Lawson-Muhammad also appeared to suggest that she would ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, May 24, 9:30 AM

Junior League of Summit Thrift Shop, Summit

Here Comes Summer! Junior League of Summit Thrift ...

Giving Back Green

Fri, May 25, 9:30 AM

Junior League of Summit Thrift Shop, Summit

Here Comes Summer! Junior League of Summit Thrift ...

Giving Back Green

Sat, May 26, 2:00 PM

New Providence

Memoir Writing Workshops @ NPML

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, May 31, 11:30 AM

Canoe Brook Country Club, Summit

Fortnightly Club Scholarship Luncheon

Food & Drink Giving Back

Thu, May 31, 1:30 PM

Coppola Ristorante, New Providence

Lunch and Learn: Dental Implants and the ...

Health & Wellness


Fri, June 1, 6:00 PM

Senior Center of the Chathams, , Chatham Township

Senior Center of the Chathams Glorious Garden ...

Food & Drink Home & Garden

Don’t Make These Three Mistakes About Social Security

Social Security has been around for decades and it’s not about to disappear. Why? Social Security is not an entitlement ("gift") that can be taken away - it’s a forced savings scheme that Americans pay into in their working years in order to secure a pension for life. Ideally, Social Security should not be your sole source of income in retirement but even comfortable ...