BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Each week leading to the November 8 election, the candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAP into Berkeley Heights.

The following answers are from Republican candidate Peter Bavoso for Week 3.

Thoughts about continued occurrences of vandalism to public and private property that has hit Berkeley Heights. What do you want the township to do about this issue and what are your suggestions? What do you want the township to do about this issue and what are your suggestions?

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Vandalism in our town is obviously a serious and frustrating situation for all of us who care deeply about Berkeley Heights, as well as an unnecessary strain on already stretched resources. As we continue to increase our focus on making the appearance of our community better with more attractive features, this illegal activity creates a negative aspect to these efforts. And if you consider that these acts are possibly being committed by individuals who are part of our community, it simply makes this situation feel worse.

I believe the answer and approach ultimately is based on education and communication. This is an opportunity for the Town Council to partner with the BOE and Union County for an educational campaign in the schools and public arena about the issue and problem of vandalism, as well as the responsibility of each of us to become involved to stop it. Our kids need to understand that vandalism and the destruction of property is, in the most simple of terms, “not cool.” Parents at home, of course, also need to reinforce this message and help their children understand the serious nature of this negative activity. They should also know that it is ok to say something if they see or hear about something.

A campaign with a message platform such as: YOUR TOWN could help convey community pride and being active participants in trying to protect Berkeley Heights from negative impact, with a sense of individual accountability. We could set up a hotline to the BHPD for tips, and potentially offer rewards for information that leads to the source of the vandalism. Signs posted in parks and other areas indicating the hotline number and consequences for vandalism indicating penalties and enforcement of laws will be swift. But ultimately signs, Neighborhood Watch Programs or even potential security cameras will not be the strongest tools in this current battle. This will be overcome with strong communication and educational tactics, reinforcing common sense about destruction of property, while elevating the level of pride for our town.