BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - A packed house upstairs at Nagoya Restaurant greeted Peter Bavoso and Manuel Couto, Republican Candidates for Berkeley Heights Township Council. The "Meet the Candidates" event hosted by the BH Republican Municipal Committee on May 6 introduced the political newcomers to over 100 residents anxious to hear more about their platform "Together. Forward."
While both Bavoso and Couto are running for elected office for the first time, neither is a stranger to active involvement in Berkeley Heights. "Peter and Manuel have the passion and commitment we need in local leadership," said Municipal Chairwoman Heidi Cohen, "They have the skills and experience to help our town continue moving forward as a strong and vibrant community."
Among those attending were Jon Bramnick, Minority Leader, New Jersey State Assembly, Mayor Robert Woodruff, Berkeley Heights Township Council President Jeanne Kingsley and Councilman Mike D'Aquila.
Woodruff believes that adding Bavoso and Couto to the council will complete the business roles necessary in running a township. "We are adding with Manny, an individual with a Real Estate background. Which, given some of the issues we are facing, is very important. And with Pete, with his business background -- the way the towns will succeed, as we move forward, are to be run like businesses. These two bring that kind of ability. When you offset that with people with financial, legal and engineering backgrounds -- it's a good combination."
Bavoso and Couto expressed they are looking forward to the opportunity to work with Mayor Woodruff and elected officials at the local, county and state levels to ensure that Berkeley Heights stays at the forefront, especially when it comes to obtaining grants and other funding that could benefit the township. Likewise, they shared their belief that it is important to have a close working relationship with all citizens and with community stakeholders whose efforts or decisions affect residents, services and the town itself. They are committed to maintaining the small town feel that they know makes Berkeley Heights special; believing that maintaining and sustaining that feeling along with affordability cannot be done by taxpayers alone. They are determined to continue and expand successful Public/Private partnerships with local businesses and corporations.
"It is important for the people to know who we are. I have been in the town for 18 years, my kids went through the school system. -- I am here and I am not leaving. I wouldn't be dedicating this much time if I didn't believe in the Township," said Couto.
"It's great having the public out here today and it's great meeting the people. It shows that I'm serious about running. It shows that I believe in the town," said Couto. "Our platform is 'Together and Forward' to do the job to help better the town."
Bavoso was also excited about the turnout. "It starts with the energy and that's when you can start to make things happen," he said. "First thing is getting people together and then move it forward. There are a lot of points of view in town and there are a lot of different types of people in town - the key is to find out what we all have in common -- and that's the town."
"The passion for this town is what brought me here," said Bavoso, who moved to the suburbs from Hoboken. Bavoso is passionate to continue the progression of making this town great. "People need to get invo.lved. We should all be closer to what is going on in town. I hope I can inspire people to get more involved and be closer to what is happening and be in the know."
Woodruff is excited about the two candidates that see the vision of the town. "While we respect tradition, we need to make changes that make this town affordable and an attractive place for people to move, understanding it is a commuter town," Woodruff said. "I think Manny and Pete are helping us segue to these changes," he added.
The enthusiasm from those attending indicated an energetic response to their platform message. Bavoso and Couto will be participating in the upcoming League of Women Voters Candidates Night on May 16 at the IMC at Governor Livingston High School. In order to get to know more residents, several coffees and neighborhood visits are also planned. More information will be posted on their Facebook page: Bavoso & Couto For Berkeley Heights Town Council.
Voters are reminded that the Republican Primary is on June 7, 2016. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and voters go to their regular polling location. Absentee Ballot/Vote By Mail applications may be obtained from the Union County Clerks office or downloaded at http://ucnj.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/VBM-English.pdf