BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A councilman since 2004, Howard Norgalis is hoping to continue doing what he feels compelled to do for Bridgewater for another four years.
“While the term politician has a bad connotation for most people, I feel honestly and faithfully that serving the residents of Bridgewater is a wonderful calling,” he said.
Incumbent Norgalis is running on the Republican ticket in Bridgewater to serve another four-year term on the township council.
Norgalis moved to Bridgewater in 1975, from New York City, with his late wife.
“We picked Bridgewater because it had a good school system, was (and is) a safe place to live, was convenient to shopping, transportation, medical facilities and we found the right house,” he said.
Norgalis has a BBA and MBA from the Baruch School of Business, part of the City University of NY. He also took advanced seminars at the Darden School (University of Virginia) in project planning and the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) in resource utilization.
Norgalis worked for AT&T as district finance manager, with assignments in operations, engineering, accounting and stochastic modeling.
A lifelong Republican, Norgalis served five years on the zoning board and was appointed to the planning board before the council.
“I feel I truly understood the workings of our township and understand the myriad of issues facing the folks who live and work in our town,” he said. “I always do my homework and am prepared to discuss and vote on the issues before the council. I speak my mind and vote my conscience.”
Aside from his political work, Norgalis was a volunteer firefighter for 37 years and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Branch Volunteer Fire Company.
“I was an elected fire commissioner in Bridgewater Fire District No. 3 for 15 years, and chairman for nine of those years,” he said.
Norgalis is a member of the Somerset County Medical Reserve Corp, a trustee of the 200 Club of Somerset County and a board member for Centerbridge Housing. He was a former member of the Somerville Bridgewater Rotary Club and vice president for Somerset Chaplaincy to the Elderly.
“I was a Habitat for Humanity home builder for houses in Somerset and Bridgewater, and am very proud to have been a three-gallon blood donor at Somerset Hospital, not counting the two gallons donated in New York City before moving here,” he said.
Norgalis said there are several issues he believes will be most important to Bridgewater in the coming years, including taxes, which he acknowledges that everyone would always like to see lowered.
“We have shed staff over the years and improved efficiency, but we continue to provide robust services that cost money,” he said. “One of the best tax savers is our joining the Somerset County 911 Emergency Reporting System.”
Quality of life is also an important issue, Norgalis said.
“This is a big issue, which involves zoning, open space, recreation and owner care of buildings, to name a few items,” he said. “Most people who move to our town and expect to stay for years like what they came for and want the town to basically stay the same.”
“Our job as council representatives is to manage the change process,” he added.
Infrastructure will always be an important issue, Norgalis said, with regard to roadwork.
“Street repair, including fixing potholes and new road surfaces, is a major financial issue, not only in Bridgewater, but in many towns in the state,” he said. “The winter freeze and thaw cycles literally destroy the road surfaces.”
“We are spending over $6 million in 2017 to play catch up, but candidly speaking, we will never have a perfect road system,” he added.
If re-elected, Norgalis said, he will look to continue to support joint service programs with other towns and Somerset County, including sharing staff, joining cooperative buying services and using state contacts.
Other concerns Norgalis said he has been hearing have included speeding on newly repaved streets, sidewalk messes because of tree root upheavals, security at the mall, the need for more recreation facilities, the need to repair play items at Kid Street Park and the need for a makeover of the senior center.
And, Norgalis said, he created an email address when he served as council president, firstname.lastname@example.org, to hear concerns from residents.
“It goes to my township mailbox, where I analyze the issue, and, if appropriate, forward to the appropriate organization for information or action,” he said. “I personally act as eyes and ears for the residents reporting clogged drains, street lights out, dead trees overhanging power lines, to name a few areas of concern.”