I came to last night’s town council debate with an open mind, not expecting to be surprised. I listened to the candidates and heard significant differences between the two parties’ experience and goals. The choice is clear, and I know who I’ll vote for on November 5th.

It’s not enough to say you “love Berkeley Heights,” or even focus on the years you’ve lived in our town.  What made the difference for me was to hear Manny talk in depth of his experience serving on our town council. He set forth realistic priorities and how to achieve them.  He knows who the key players are in local government and how to get resources into Berkeley Heights.  He has had a direct hand in planning our town’s new municipal building, in cleaning up our streets and in making improvements to our sport fields for our children’s activities.  Those issues matter to me. 

Gentiana is a hustler. She has learned to be goal oriented and focused while adapting to changing circumstances. She has experience in managing resources when every penny counts.  Holding a seat on town council means you must know how to prioritize necessary actions while managing a tight budget -- all for the collective good of the citizens who live and work here.  Her priorities lined up with mine. I want my home value to increase, I want my kids safe at school and during after-school activities, and I want the town to keep on budget! 

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I love teachers. Good teachers often get little recognition for their work. I am concerned whether these women, seeking election, have the competence and discretion to help run our town and manage its budget without compromising to Union County.  There’s no time for on the job training.  Whomever is elected must hit the ground running and not be focused on secondary issues. The proposed hiking trails might be nice, but they don’t increase my property value; I didn’t move here to hike.  

We all agree we care about our children, our families and our senior citizens!  But pandering to one group was obvious and missed the point of what it means to represent the town as a community.  When I heard the ladies echo each other’s priorities of yoga for seniors and healthy eating workshops, I thought, “If they intend to follow what our kids’ meal plan is in school and offer that to our seniors, Lord help us!  Seniors can probably give us a lesson on healthy eating!”  I am sure that seniors care about their home values and balanced budgets just as much as the young families that move into town do.  Priorities must be realistic and sensible. 

I want the most qualified candidates elected who will represent me on all issues, concerns, and contracts. I fear we are headed in a direction where we will need to partner with the Board of Education,and these teachers would have real conflict of interests to hurdle.  If I hire someone for a job, I expect them to take seriously their responsibilities and not have to worry about conflict of interest.

Manny and Gentiana have diverse skills and experience that can directly benefit our town and those of us that live here.  They both bring insight, enthusiasm and a real readiness to do what is best for Berkeley Heights. That is a win for us all!