My name is Rez Estevez and I humbly ask that Republicans in Chatham Township vote for me for Chatham Township Committee on June 6. There are two reasons why I ask for your vote on June 6: I am highly qualified to serve in the Chatham Township Committee and I am highly motivated to serve.
My qualifications include over twenty years of experience in the practice of law in N.J., N.Y., and D.C. in highly regulatory areas, including governmental relations. More than ten of these years comprise legal corporate experience. In addition to my legal background, I am deeply steeped in science. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science. My focus was used water treatment and solid waste management, which is why I fully appreciate the vital, behind-the-scenes role of the Chatham Township Department of Public Works. Focusing on the environment was very comfortable for me, because the protection of the environment is long in my family’s blood. My father, who’s descended from a long line of sugar cane farmers, held degrees in agronomy, horticulture, and plant genetics.
As to my motivations, it’s love of Chatham, its history, and its character. Our family – which is comprised of a wonderful husband, two talented teenage boys, two precocious tween girls, and me – is deeply rooted in Chatham Township. Our neighbors enrich our lives. Our schools are among the best in the nation. From the natural beauty of the Great Swamp to our proximity to metropolitan New York, Chatham offers the best of all worlds.
My campaign can be summarized in a quick phrase: “listen to collaborate.” My central aim is to foment greater openness and transparency in the Township Committee and its increased partnership with Chatham Township residents. I am focused on enhancing our already high quality of life. Here are a few examples of the initiatives that I aim to drive as a member of the Chatham Township Committee.
- Affordable Housing. This is the biggest challenge that Chatham Township will face in the next year. It is elemental that Chatham Township manages this legal obligation while preserving its character and esthetics. After many doorstep conversations with Chatham residents, it is apparent to me that Chatham residents crave greater transparency on this issue.
To begin, my aim is to join the Chatham Township Committee to offer residents an informational townhall to orient residents on this complex mandate. Of course, there’re details that the Township Committee is prevented under law from disclosing, such as those relating to ongoing litigation and negotiations. However, a townhall should offer an overview of the affordable housing mandate and its origins, how Chatham Township has addressed this mandate historically, and why a negotiated settlement is best for public policy. It is important to offer residents a high-level overview of Chatham Township’s litigation at N.J. Superior Court. A townhall should also explain the importance of a settlement agreement with the Vernon Grove Condo Association, pending Association and court approvals. Chatham residents would benefit from the increased transparency of such a townhall.
Further, it will serve the Chatham Township Committee well to have an attorney experienced in dense regulatory matters to closely partner with Chatham Township’s legal advisors and to liaise openly with residents.
- Commuters. To date, Chatham Township has no initiative to substantively address the issues that our commuters face daily. It has been at least five years since the Chatham Township Committee has focused on commuters.
First, my aim is to join the Chatham Township Committee to collaborate with our neighbors in the Borough of Chatham in representing the interests of our commuters before NJ Transit and pertinent governmental and non-governmental bodies. So far, several neighboring communities – including the Borough of Chatham, Summit, Millburn, Maplewood, Livingston, and East Orange - are energetically advocating for their commuting residents. The “Summer of Hell” is ahead for Chatham commuters, and as best as I can determine, Chatham Township has yet to designate its representative to advocate for commuters.
Second, it is imperative that Chatham Township collaborate fruitfully with our neighbors in the Borough to relieve the parking hardships at the train station. Now that the Borough is embarking in its planning for the Post Office Plaza development, now is the time to work together with our neighbors for Chatham commuters. The Chathams – both the Township and the Borough – can collaborate on multi-modal solutions, including facilitating ride-sharing through Uber and Lyft, designating reserved parking for those who carpool to the train station, and setting-up parking in existing lots and operating shuttles to the train station.
- Seniors. The Senior Center of the Chathams is a non-profit organization that each year raises about 80% of its operational budget from private sources. It is due to the loving diligence of the Center’s dedicated team that our senior community and their families enjoy the Center’s enrichment programming, transportation, information, and referral services.
In Chatham Township there are senior-oriented organizations ready and eager for greater community development work, such as fundraising for the Senior Center of the Chathams. As part of the Chatham Township Committee I aim to strategically tap into these organizations to better support the Center in its important fundraising endeavors.
- The Environment. Protection of Chatham Township’s natural habitat is ingrained. My anti-Pilgrim pipeline position is consistent with the Chatham Township Committee’s priorities. As part of the Township Committee we should explore shared services opportunities for recycling with our neighbors in the Borough.
- Taxes and Strategic Planning. My position on holding property taxes steady is consistent with the Chatham Township Committee’s priorities. Chatham Township continues to enjoy a clean and healthy financial position to the credit of the present and prior Chatham Township Committees, as well as to sage strategic minds in our community who have stewarded our community’s wellbeing. As we look to the future, Chatham Township should begin to plan for when the current trend of “tear-downs” begins to slow and affect our taxes.
Chatham Township residents have a choice this year. On Tuesday, June 6, Republican voters get to choose two candidates from a field of three for the Chatham Township Committee. I ask that you vote for me. Thank you.
Dated: June 2, 2017