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

The following answers are from Republican candidate John Leo.

I was born in Somerville and have lived nearly all my life in New Jersey, finally settling in Berkeley Heights with my wife and newborn. I’ve been a full-time airline pilot since 2006 where three years later I began a series of management positions which included instructor, company chief pilot and later Manager of Flight Standards where I’ve led fellow instructors, interfaced directly with federal regulators and affected data-based recommendations to airline directors.

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TAPinto Berkeley Heights: Why are you running for council and what unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the council?

John Leo: I didn't intend to run for office but I have become passionate about representing my community and finding ways to harness my leadership experiences. I want to actively invest my time and ideas in the town in which I plan to raise my children. Throughout my career, I’ve tackled many leadership opportunities. I’ve found the most joy in the company volunteer programs - usually community outreach programs with children.  Taking responsibility to its pinnacle every day at work, I want that same privilege in community leadership. 

Through career, continuous training, testing and stressful environments, I've learned to constantly assess risk. In government, I see risk to our township mostly through the increasing county, state and federal taxes as well as unchecked spending and promoting the use of debt. I believe we should better protect our township from these risks and increasing township debt will make us increasingly vulnerable along with the certain rise of property taxes. With that in mind, I see my focus as Councilman to be on minding the "big picture,” minimizing bias in my decisions and looking critically at the local issues we face to suggest workable solutions that invest reasonably in our town’s future. 

In administrative roles, I've developed, implemented and managed pilot training and checking programs with direct federal scrutiny.  I've sat down not only with directors on proposals but also integrated with federal inspectors on a constant basis.  This is the kind of objective criticism I'd expect of constituents with township proposals whether sourced by me or presented to me for vote. My intent would strictly be in safeguarding our town's financial future while finding sensible channels to promote prosperity in a more beautiful and humble downtown.

Aside from technical acumen, my most valuable contribution to my home town will be character. Integrity and kindness are paramount. It's imperative to bring people together forming constructive debate on topics that naturally have opposing approaches to a problem. Being kind while also sincere and honest should be any leaders maxim and will always be mine as a community leader.  Combine a fresh, unique perspective with sincerity plus humility and we will have a winning Berkeley Heights!

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.