BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - There are four candidates on the ballot for the upcoming November 5 election for Berkeley Heights Township Council. The Township Council candidates are incumbent Manny Couto (R) and newcomers Gentiana Brahimaj(R), Julie Figlar(D) and Rina Franchino(D). 

TAPinto Berkeley Heights has reached out to each of the Republican and Democratic candidates and will run a series for citizens to learn where each of the candidates stand on key issues that impact the township. 

Each week, the candidates will be asked a question leading upto Election Day, Tuesday, November 5 and TAPinto Berkeley Heights will publish one response daily starting Monday, Oct. 7. 

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Get to know the candidates for Berkeley Heights Township Council:


Name: Rina Franchino

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Rina Franchino has lived in Berkeley Heights for almost 30 years, and graduated from our public schools including Governor Livingston High School. A highly accomplished English teacher in the Rahway Public School district for 17 years, Rina received her M.A. in Teaching from St. Mary’s University, her B.A. in English from Kean University, and is a certified special education teacher as well. She serves on the Diversity Council for Kean University.  


 Name: Julie Figlar

 Party Affiliation: Democrat

Julie Figlar has been making a difference in the lives of Berkeley Heights children for nearly 20 years, as a teacher and Reading Specialist at Mary Kay McMillan School. Julie served on the PTO at Hughes Elementary and Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center, and has been an active volunteer parent with the Girl Scouts and various recreation sports.. She is also active in her husband Jason’s building and development company.


Name: Manny Couto

Party Affiliation: Republican

Manny Couto is a family man and small business owner.  He has a big heart and always goes out of his way to help.  His knowledge of contract negotiations, relationship management, and tireless work ethic make him successful in his work and on Council.  He is an independent thinker; as Councilman he has proven to put residents first above all else. He has a natural ability to bring all sides together for the common good.


Name: Gentiana Brahimaj

Party Affilition: Repubican

She is passionate about helping people. She believes in family values, hard work, honesty, integrity and treating people with respect.
Her excellent communication skills, legal expertise, and her ability to relate to people from all walks of life and backgrounds are some reasons she chose to run for Council.  She is a trustworthy, strong, independent woman who will always put the interests of residents and our town above any party politics. She will make sure that YOU, the residents, have a voice in every big decision made by our town government.


Editor's Note: The statements herein are the candidates' alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied.