My name is Jeff Varnerin. I am a fiscally conservative Republican, running for Town Council. Berkeley Heights deserves highly skilled, time tested and dedicated leaders, to preserve our community for generations to come. My wife, Debbie and I chose this community 14 years ago, to raise our family. We love this town and it has given our family so much since our arrival. Now I want to give back as a Town Council member and help move our town forward.
It has become abundantly clear, in the last several months of quarantine and national unrest, that communities are in desperate need for highly skilled, flexible and appropriately experienced leaders. It is time to ensure that both short term and long-term decision-making is taking place. It is time for leaders to roll up their sleeves, pivot, own accountability and take real action.
As a Councilman, I will bring a variety of skills and capabilities to the table. I have a community service mindset. Prior to moving to Berkeley Heights, I spent 15+ years as an EMT with the Watchung Rescue Squad and as a firefighter with several organizations.
I have a focus on leveraging data and facts as key elements of decision-making. As a scientist, project manager and former front-line worker, I have spent my career making decisions, often in very high stress situations. This has fostered my ability to rapidly gain understanding of complex matters and deploy straightforward solutions
There are a number of major issues facing our community today. First, we must create a diverse and inclusive environment where the perspective of ALL residents is heard, acknowledged and incorporated into policies and actions taken by the township of Berkeley Heights. The Town Council should be the voice of our entire community. This starts with being open to ALL voices and then turning those voices into sustainable and meaningful long-term change.
Second, there is the economic recovery and long-term viability of our downtown post COVID-19. Ensuring our businesses can thrive in the downtown area is not only critical to provide a robust and engaging experience for residents but also a key element to the financial stability of our budget. Strong local businesses are good for both.
Third, transparency in government is critical to ensure outside interests do not have unfair influence such as in the case of ensuring wise use of our tax dollars through local control of spend. Stop giving control of our spend to Union County where our ability to influence the effectiveness of our dollars is significantly limited. We need to look to partner with adjacent townships and private businesses, where it makes sense, for the long-term and not just short-term budget gimmicks.
Lastly, we must ensure we complete the Municipal Complex and limit the impact of 18 months of mismanagement by the Democratically controlled town council. A project that was under budget and on time as of January 1, 2019, is now in poor shape, while those in power to manage the project closely, publicly provided no insight into the delays or issues until almost a year after the problems began. This is simply not acceptable.
I am an authentic leader, focused on problem solving and am ready to offer skills to Berkeley Heights Town Council. I respectfully ask for your support along with my running mate Jeanne Kingsley, this election year.