Elections

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

044b8e48838eb253b1d6_IMG_2966__1_.PNG
Manuel Couto
044b8e48838eb253b1d6_IMG_2966__1_.PNG

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:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Third Annual Rockin' For Autism Music Festival

February 18, 2018

All-day festival benefiting Autism New Jersey will feature local bands, food trucks, vendors, a merchant raffle, bake sale, obstacle course and lots of family fun! Join us for a day of great music, food, fun -- and help us raise funds and awareness for a great cause.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday. April 14, in LaGrande Park. 200 LaGrande Ave., ...

HOLD: Fellowship Helping Hands Receives Home Care Award

Fellowship Helping Hands, the home care agency operated by Fellowship Senior Living in Basking Ridge,  has received the 2018 Best of Home Care® – Provider of Choice Award from Home Care Pulse, announced Liz Fandel, vice president of Home Community Based Services at Fellowship Senior Living.

Fellowship Helping Hands is a New Jersey licensed home care service for older and ...

New Jersey Youth Symphony Announces Bring A Buddy Week March 4-8

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ—New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) invites young musicians in grades 3-11 to attend open rehearsals for Bring A Buddy Week, March 4-8 at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence. Participating students will observe the first half of a rehearsal. Students can visit any ensemble based on their grade and experience level. Students who do not have a friend in an ensemble can still ...

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Will Meet on Tues, Feb. 20, at LaGrande Park Building

FANWOOD, NJ -- Following the mass shooting in Florida this week, the Union County Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7:00 p.m. at the LaGrande Park Building  in Fanwood.

"Every life cut short by gun violence -- that somehow becomes a statistic -- is tucked away in our hearts, never to be lost," wrote Patti ...

Colleen Mahr Is The Leader Our Party Needs

February 13, 2018

Dear Editor:

My name is Patti Murgo. I am Committeewoman in Linden’s Eighth Ward. I am a life-long  DEMOCRAT, a party activist, and a believer in what being a democrat stands for. Last week, I received a piece of literature from our municipal chairman, Nick Scutari, regarding his “plans” for the County Democratic Party if he is elected county chairman.

Mr.

No One Is More Qualified and Capable to be Our Next Democratic Committee Chair Than Colleen Mahr

Dear Editor:

Mayor Colleen Mahr has been a pillar of consistency in Union County for the last 20 years, having devoted her life to public service. There is no one more qualified and capable to lead us as our next Union County Democratic Committee Chair.

Colleen has mentored, coached and supported countless candidates running for office in Union County, all across our 21 ...

Mayor Colleen Mahr Is a Strong and Capable Leader

Dear Editor:

In  all the years I’ve known Mayor Colleen Mahr, I’ve found her to be a strong and capable leader, completely dedicated to the needs and success of every municipality in Union County.

 As  Vice Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee for the past five years, she's earned the right to take her seat at the head of the ...

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, February 18

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Carousel_image_ab8f5d9efb4317e5a445_hiawatha

Sun, February 18, 3:00 PM

Lawton C. Johnson Middle School , Summit

New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra Free ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, February 18, 7:00 PM

Villagers Theatre, Somerset

Hairspray Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Mon, February 19

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Mon, February 19, 7:00 PM

Villagers Theatre, Somerset

Hairspray Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, February 20

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Invest Like a Tortoise -- Not Like a Hare

Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” is a perfect metaphor for the way people go about investing their money. As you recall in the fable, the hare brags about his ability to beat the tortoise and is overly confident about winning. In the investment world, the hare is someone who thinks he or she is great at selecting “winners” and avoiding “losers.” The ...