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

The following answers are from Democratic candidate Stephen Yellin..

Why are you running for council?

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I want to serve on the Township Council because the serious issues facing our town require leaders with both experience and new, fresh perspectives. I use the word “serve” deliberately – my goal is be to be your voice on the Council, serving you to the best of my ability, always seeking your input on the issues we face. Whether it’s working with residents across party lines to save the Free Acres/Emerson Lane neighborhood from overdevelopment, reporting on Council meetings for newspaper readers for over 2 years, or standing up for our firefighters and seniors when they needed it most, I’ve shown I’ll work with anyone to get things done.

Together with Jill Zatta, we represent the future of Berkeley Heights – bringing new perspective and fresh ideas for making positive changes, while promoting open dialogue and debate on critical issues in the years ahead. Please go to www.yellinzatta16.com to see our innovative plans to fix our roads, improve our downtown, and show the great things about our town to everyone around us!

What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the council?

With no incumbents running for reelection, it’s critical that we elect at least 1 candidate who knows the nuts and bolts of local government (what the Council can and cannot do, how our money is spent, etc.). As the only candidate with that experience – having attended meetings for the better part of 9 years, including very poorly-attended meetings on the Municipal Budget, I’m as prepared to serve on the Council as anyone can be.

It’s also critical that we have at least 1 Council member (ideally 2) that can offer a different perspective from the majority. Residents may not have agreed with Ed Delia (I often didn’t) but he made open discussion and debate on many important issues possible. Jill Zatta and I are not part of the current governing body “group”; we’ll keep that open dialogue going even as we work in good faith with them. That won’t exist on the Council unless we win. Finally, every town should have at least 1 elected official who grew up there; being a lifelong resident means having a special understanding of our town, its history and the context behind the issues we face, and enables everyone to make better decisions for its future. Mr. Delia is the only current member with this background so electing me ensures we have a Councilman whose roots are firmly planted here.

Related article: Get to Know the Candidates for Berkeley Heights Township Council