Chatham Borough Council Candidates Make Their Case at League of Women Voters Forum

Candidates for Borough of Chatham Council l to r: Jim Clyde Jr., James Collander, Victoria Fife and Thaddeus Kobylarz met in a candidates forum on Monday night Credits: TAP Chatham
Cecile Kent, Marie Fornaro, Jennifer Woodward and Marlene Sincaglia of the League of Women Voters Credits: TAP Chatham
Marlene Sincaglia was the moderator for the candidates forum held in the Chatham Library on Monday night Credits: TAP Chatham
Council incumbent Victoria Fife and challenger Thaddeus Kobylarz chat after the candidates forum Credits: TAP Chatham
Challenger Jim Clyde and incumbent James Collander talk after the candidates forum on Monday night Credits: TAP Chatham
Challenger Thaddeus Kobylarz and incumbent James Collander at candidates forum for Chatham Borough Council Credits: TAP Chatham

CHATHAM, NJ - Democrat challengers Jim Clyde and Thaddeus Kobylarz and Republican incumbents Vicki Fife and James Collander got together for a candidates forum offered by the Morristown Area League of Women Voters on Monday night at the Library of the Chathams.

The candidates answered questions from the audience presented to them by moderator Marlene Sincaglia.

Collander, a Chatham resident since 1973, has an extensive resume as a member of the council, including an 11-year run as a member of the budget and finance committee and chairman of the traffic and pedestrian safety committee. 

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Collander touted his "solid record of accomplishment" as a member of the council since 2005, highlighted by Chatham Borough going from an Double A-1 financial rating to Triple-A.  Chatham Borough is one of ony 16 municipalities in the state to earn a Triple-A rating.

Kolbylarz said he was running to give some balance to the council, which is dominated by Republicans at this tme.

"It is my deeply held conviction that at any level of government, multi-party representation is superior to single-party rule," Kobylarz said. "My belief is that there is a need for public safety and quality of life issues that have gone here to fore unaddressed here in Chatham. Multi-party representation fosters meaningful discussion and debate among any legislative body."

Fife, running for her third term, spearheaded the redistricting of the M district near the Passaic River, where new multi-use zoning has helped bring in the Twin Elephant Brewing Co. and led to the development of a 47-unit condominium building.

"I'm fully committed and engaged in all that is Chatham Borough," Fife said. "We deal with the issues of today, but we're always conscious and cognizant of our past and our future. I'm really, really proud to be part of this governing body in the town that I love. One of the highlights of my tenure is the rezoning of M district to bring in new business that create ratables and offset rising taxes."

Clyde, 80, and a 44-year resident of Chatham, is the self-proclaimed "Mayor of Carmine Street." 

"My major concerns are the traffic," Clyde said. "I have advocated for speed bumps on Van Doren Avenue."

While Kobylarz and Clyde advocated for two-party balance on the council, both Collander and Fife said that the business of the town had nothing to do with being a Republican or Democrat. 

"I'm here to ask for your vote because of what I do and my service to the community, not because I'm a Republican or a Democrat for that matter," Collander said. "I think this council challenges itself every single meeting. There used to ba a lot of people who showed up who were Democrats, but they don't show up anymore because we are extremely open in what we do. I challenge you to show we're not transparent."

Kobylarz and Clyde advocated for the hiring of more police with each citing the armed robbery of Crescent Jewelers over the summer, as well as the theft of items from parked cars.

All four candidates expressed their opposition to the Pilgrim Pipeline.

Below are the opening statements of each candidate for Borough of Chatham Council gave in the order they were delivered.

Republican incumbent James Collander, who has served 12 years on the council and is seeking re-election

Democrat challenger Thaddeus Kobylarz, who is challenging for one of the two seats open this election cycle

Republican incumbent Victoria Fife is running for her third term as a member of the council

Democrat Jim Clyde, a 44-year resident of Chatham, is seeking office for the first time

On Nov. 8, two seats on the Borough of Chatham Council will be up for grabs with Clyde and Kobylarz trying to unseat Fife and Collander. Although the Democrats and Republicans are running together as a ticket, the top two votegetters - regardless of affiliation - will gain the seats.

The Borough of Chatham Council currently consists of six Republican members and Mayor Bruce Harris, who is also Republican.

Two Democrats - Neal Collins and Joe Mikulewicz - were members of the council in 2009 when they lost to Republican challengers Len Resto and John Holman.

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