RARITAN, NJ - She is running for her fifth term on the Raritan Borough Council, and has the distinction of being part of the first father/daughter team to serve on the same council in New Jersey – and Republican incumbent Denise Carra is just proud to live in a small town where she knows so many people by first name.
“I grew up in a family where politics is a household word and was a way of life,” she said. “My parents were both committee people in Raritan since 1960. My father served as a councilman for 16 years, and as mayor in 2005–2006. In 2002, my father was looking for a running mate so I decided to run on the ticket and we won.”
“I lived in Raritan for most of my life,” she added. “My roots are in Raritan and I am a fourth generation Italian American.”
Carra is a graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High School West, and completed several business courses at corporate and higher educational institutions. After graduating, she started working at Brothers International, and then at several AT&T locations, primarily in Global Real Estate and Budget Administration for more than 16 years.
As for her family, Carra has been married to her husband, Joe, for 21 years, and has four children, Alicia, a nurse, and 18-year-old triplets Tiffany, Victoria and Nicolas who are enrolled at Rutgers University, Indiana University and Raritan Valley Community College, respectively. Her husband, Carra said, builds homes in the area.
“Needless to say, I am proud of my family’s accomplishments,” she said.
One of the most important issues facing the town, Carra said, is housing, and she served on the committee that updated the housing ordinance that is currently in place.
“Absentee landlords make it difficult to inspect homes for safety, fire and board of health compliance,” she said. “We have coordinated efforts with all the police departments to notify the housing inspector if a violation is observed.”
Carra said she hopes to reinforce the housing ordinance by bringing together a police department representative, the housing inspector and the property maintenance official regularly to review progress, violations and corrective actions.
“These would allow for improved communication, collaboration and coordination between these departments,” she said. “My goal is to maintain house values and the quality of life for our residents.”
If she is re-elected, Carra said, she has several goals, including maintaining a stable tax rate for all taxpayers.
“This is where my experience and 12 years on the council will serve us well,” she said. “I have been fiscally responsible for managing, planning and analyzing changes in personnel, healthcare costs and other expenses.”
In addition, Carra said, she believes speeding throughout the borough remains an issue. She said the borough recently installed three digital speed alert signs in problem areas to deter and slow down speeds.
“If these prove successful, I would like to add more to other heavy traffic areas,” she said.
As for improvements to the Riverfront, Carra said she has been involved since the inception of the development concept. Eventually, she said, she would like to bring in a mixture of commercial and recreational activities, and they are in talks for a Farmer’s Market on the Riverfront.
“The council has approved a wayfinding plan to provide an attractive and easy-to-navigate pedestrian and bicycle route connecting the Raritan NJ Transit train station, the Somerset Street business district and the Raritan Riverfront,” she said. “The objective is to take full advantage of the train station as a unique and alternative gateway to Raritan’s business and recreational opportunities.”
With regard to taxes, Carra said she wants to maintain a stable rate for taxpayers despite a continuing loss of state aid.
“We must remain fiscally responsible and look for alternative sources of revenue,” she said.
Plus, Carra said, it is important to reinstate the façade review committee and work with store owners to establish a well-maintained commercial presence on Somerset Street, and hopefully attract new businesses and customers.
Through everything she hopes to accomplish, Carra said, she is proud to be a Raritan resident.
“I love living in a small town where I know people by their first names,” she said. “It is a great place to raise a family. No matter where I end up, Raritan will always be home to me.”