Hi, this is Stephen Yellin, and I'm running for Township Council in Berkeley Heights. You'll be able to find me in the lower left-hand corner of the ballot, in Column A. I'm running for Council because I love my town, and wish to help it move forward again.
As promised in my column last week (see http://tapdev.heroku.com/articles/why-i-am-running-for-berkeley-heights-township-council--2), I'd like to discuss my qualifications for serving the residents of Berkeley Heights as a Councilman. I believe my background as an active participant in municipal government, as well as my expertise in government and public policy, has provided me with the knowledge and tools to be an effective Councilman.
My background is as follows:
- I'm a lifelong resident of Berkeley Heights. I've seen our town grow and change over th e years first-hand; more importantly, I've seen what hasn't changed and what needs to change.
- I graduated from Mountain Park Elementary, Columbia Middle and Governor Livingston High School. Anyone who knew me at Governor Livingston would agree that I was very interested in government even at that age; this included creating a Democratic Club in 2003/4.
- The first campaign I worked for in Berkeley Heights was in 2003; as Councilman Bonacci can attest to (I was working for him), I was eager to help and willing to learn more about our local government. I also participated in "Kids Run Berkeley Heights Day", filling the position of Committeeman Michael Chait.
- I attended Drew University for my undergraduate degree (a B.A. in History), where I was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I was active in several organizations at Drew, including being elected to serve on the Executive Board of four different clubs. I have had articles published in Drew's academic journal, as well as a regular column in the Drew student newspaper.
- I am currently earning my M.A. in Public Policy at the Edward J. Bloustein School at Rutgers University; the Bloustein School is ranked #4 in the United States in this field.
- Locally, I was elected in 2007 to the Berkeley Heights Democratic Committee, where I served as Secretary.
As you can see, my background in Berkeley Heights and elsewhere has been one of active interest and participation in government and public service. My experiences up to now have given me a great deal of expertise in several fields affecting Berkeley Heights and its government. They are:
- Familiarity with local issues. I have regularly attended Council meetings since 2007, where my first public comment was on the importance of having televised coverage of the meetings. I am well aware of the issues we face:
- the rising cost of living, due to property taxes and economic troubles;
- our underutilized downtown;
- the poor condition of our roads and town infrastructure.
- ethical behavior and transparency in local government
My historical research has included spending extensive time with the Independent Press archives in our local library; that research has shown me where progress has been made in Berkeley Heights, and where progress needs to be made.
- Government policy and politics. I have participated in electoral campaigns since 2001, working with candidates locally, across New Jersey and (in my capacity as a political consultant) in Congressional races outside the state. Candidates
The most important lesson I have learned from these campaigns is the importance of listening; by this, I'm referring to the need for candidates and elected officials to actively pay attention to the concerns of their constituents, and to do what they can to resolve those concerns. I will do no less as a Councilman.
- Communication/Transparency. As some residents know, I have been an active political writer on the Internet; this has included being the youngest member of the Press Corps at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and having my work profiled in the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wired and Salon Magazines and many others.
Writing frequently in a turbulent, often-times heated political setting has taught me the value of being clear, honest and open in my work; this has helped in ensuring that readers value my articles and trust my opinions on national elections. As a Councilman, I will strive to be open and accessible to all residents, and to be honest and well-prepared when I speak on an issue affecting Berkeley Heights.
Next week, I plan to begin discussing some of the issues I wish to tackle as a Councilman in greater detail. For now, please visit the campaign website for myself and my running mate, Linda Weber at http://www.bhdems.com, and join our Facebook page ("Berkeley Heights Democrats").