To the Editor,

I was rather amused in reading the letter from Councilman Pirone this morning. While there are parts of his record that I admire, particularly his staunch opposition to the Berkeley Aquatic Center's proposed facility , he chose not to mention any accomplishment he has made as a Councilman. Instead, he devotes the letter to attacking me as unworthy of your vote - attacks that, if residents watched the debate we had for themselves, will seem rather silly. 

First, Mr. Pirone suggests that I'm being unrealistic in proposing our DPW be given the resources needed to fix pothole-ridden roads in a more timely fashion. I fully agree that the DPW has had plenty on its plate in the last 2 years; furthermore, and just  like Mr. Pirone, I supported spending taxpayer dollars to give them the resources they needed to handle those tasks. The difference between he and I is that I want to give our hard-working DPW the ability to help residents even more than they can now.

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If you watch the TV debate for yourself, you'll see that my proposal was to give the DPW the resources they need to make long-lasting repairs for more of our roads, especially in residential neighborhoods. It's not just about protecting our cars from damage, but making our neighborhoods more attractive to potential buyers, thus increasing the value of our homes.

Ask yourself this: would you be willing to pay a little bit more now, in order to sell your house for much more later? That's called an investment, something you and I would agree is a good thing if properly planned.

It's the same concept as my idea (strictly that, an idea) for investing in a cogeneration facility at our Wastewater Treatment facility, in order to generate revenue and cut costs from the electricity the facility could produce. If it's feasible, we should do it; if not, then what's the harm of an idea from 1 Councilman out of 6? 

Finally, Mr. Pirone boasts of the experience he and his so-called  "running mate" have with Township government. I find this amusing, for Mr. Delia (a stained glass maker by profession) had no government experience whatsoever prior to his election. Indeed, Mr. Pirone pointed this fact out 3 years ago, when he and Mayor Bruno pointedly refused to run with Mr. Delia as a ticket (endorsing a much more qualified Democrat, Linda Weber in the process).

For my part, I've not only attended Council meetings since 2007, including budget meetings, but completed courses in Budget Policy and State & Local Finance at the Bloustein School for Planning and Public Policy - ranked #3 in the nation at the time. 

Based on their records on the Council alone, I would argue Mr. Pirone and I have more in common than he and Mr. Delia. Consider: 

  • Mr. Pirone explicitly condemned Mr. Delia's willfull opposition to every single tax settlement we've been forced to make, calling it "gambling with our tax dollars". Since we don't have a legal leg to stand on in these cases (15 in total), I fully agree with Mr. Pirone and his colleagues. 
  • Mr. Pirone proudly proclaimed his ability to vote "No" his opposition to the Berkeley Aquatic Center's proposed facility on Emerson Lane on 3 separate occasions; Mr. Delia proudly voted "Yes" all 3 times, the only one of his all-Republican colleagues to do so. I, too was publicly opposed to the BAC proposal, and was actively involved with Stop the BAC to defeat it. 
  • Mr. Pirone supports, in principle, the proposed "land swap" between Little Flower Church and the Township for its Roosevelt Avenue property, allowing us to build a new, much-needed Police Station, Library and Town Hall. Mr. Delia suggested we should look at adding the Library to the present Town Hall site - something anyone who's seen Town Hall for themself will laugh at. Not surprisingly, I agree with Mr. Pirone.

If you want fiscally responsible leadership, and a Councilman with a record of good experience and wisdom, then Mr. Delia isn't your guy. If you believe Berkeley Heights can do better than we are now, I respectfully ask for your vote on November 5th. 

Stephen Yellin