My name is James Riley and I am an Independent seeking election to the Berkeley Heights Township Council along with my running mate, Mr. John McDermid. Let me begin by thanking the many voters who signed our nominating petition guaranteeing us a spot on the ballot in November. The purpose of this letter is to introduce myself to the electorate and officially launch our campaign.
I have resided in Berkeley Heights with my wife Sheila and daughters Mary (age 9) and Kerri (age 6) for ten years. I am a project manager for a construction company where it is my job to insure that projects are completed efficiently, expeditiously and economically. I am involved with projects from inception to completion. The knowledge and experience that I have gained during the course of my professional career have prepared me to serve the voters of Berkeley Heights as a Township Councilman.
When I first moved to Berkeley Heights in 2000 the topical issues were, to name a few: aging municipal facilities (Town Hall, Police Department, Library), the absence of a dedicated Senior Citizen Center, the lack of adequate parking in our downtown business district and horrendous traffic problems on Diamond Hill Road. In 2010, ten years later, we're still facing the same problems. I have become as frustrated as many of my friends and neighbors with the lack of any measurable progress, clear vision and leadership from our "so called" trusted public servants. As a result I decided that I would take an active role in addressing these and other important issues affecting our Township by seeking elected office.
I have been and continue to be thoroughly disappointed with the performance of our leadership since I have been a resident. Our hasty decision in 2004 to purchase and develop the Stanford Drive Park along with Union County is an example of what is wrong with the leadership of our Township. This decision was made solely to prevent development and not out of any need for a park. It was made with little input from our residents, without a thorough cost analysis or a study to determine how construction of this park would affect the quality of life of the residents of the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the park. On July 27th I addressed the Mayor and Council and asked questions regarding the status and cost of Stanford Drive Park to our Township. According to our Mayor we are responsible for the insurance, electricity, water, maintenance, trash removal, snow removal and possibly the policing. Remarkably the Mayor wasn't able to tell me who will provide police service, since this is a Union County facility. The Mayor and Council couldn't tell me how much these items are going to cost the township or how we will pay for them. Shouldn't we have known these costs before construction began? The park is scheduled to open in October and there is no money allocated for any of these expenses in our current budget.
As an Independent candidate I know that there is no room for partisan politics on the local level. I have a Democrat as my Campaign Manager and a Republican as my Treasurer. I am truly an Independent thinker beholding to no political party. I do not work for any municipal, state or federal agency, nor am I looking to be involved in any political endeavor other than to serve as a Township Councilman in Berkeley Heights. My agenda is straightforward: I want to work with the Mayor and other Council members to serve the best interests of our Township and citizens.
I know that the voters of Berkeley Heights deserve leaders who represent the best interests of the Community, individuals who demonstrate clear-headed leadership and vision, and who listen to the voice of the people instead of speaking down to the voters as if they were misbehaving children. During the next several months Mr. McDermid and I will make every effort to meet as many of the Township's voters as we can, listen to your concerns, ideas suggestions and recommendations and let you get to know us. We are both excited about the many challenges that this campaign presents and look forward to discussing in detail all of the issues facing our Community in future "Letters to the Editor."
James Riley is an Independent Candidate for Township Council