To the Editor:
It should come as no surprise to Chatham Borough voters that I endorse council members Jim Collander and Vicki Fife. While many will think my endorsement is solely because we all belong to the same political party, those who know me will know that I am endorsing Jim and Vicki because they have demonstrated a continued commitment to our Borough and devoted many hours working on key community issues.
Jim has focused on financial management and public safety issues, and particularly on the vexing traffic and pedestrian safety issues. Among other accomplishments, he shares the credit for the Borough’s AAA bond rating and the implementation of traffic calming measures on our roads and the drop-off/pick-up plans at both public and private schools.
Vicki has played a key role in our efforts to plan for Chatham’s future while preserving its past. She shares credit for the re-zoning of our industrial zones to encourage mixed use developments that will provide exciting new commercial and residential development opportunities and boost property values.
While we don’t always agree (in spite of belonging to the same party), both of them have helped ensure that the council engages in a thoughtful discussion of matters prior to making decisions, something I believe is vital to effective municipal government.
In marked contrast, the Democratic candidates, while calling for Borough government to be more transparent, have taken advantage of the current administration’s commitment to openness by consciously using information posted on the Borough website to mislead the public. They took a comment made by a resident who participated in the community forums and surveys conducted by the Planning Board as part of the master plan process – one of many comments included in a report on community input on the master plan posted on the Borough website – and imply that that comment reflected a decision made by the “current government.”
The reality is that no decision has been made – not on parking garages or any element of the master plan - and that the administration has tried very hard to make the process of developing the master plan as open and inclusive as possible by conducting community forums and focus groups. The effort has been discussed at Planning Board meetings – which the Democratic candidates chose not to attend – and the draft plan will be presented to the Council on Monday, October 24th. The Planning Board hopes to finalize the plan in November.
You can easily confirm this for yourself by visiting the Borough’s website and viewing the information on the Master Plan, Council meeting videos and minutes, and Planning Board minutes – material that is posted because of our commitment to transparency and inclusiveness.
As I say frequently, Chatham Borough is dependent on the contributions of volunteers to make our community work, including from our elected officials (who are unpaid). Voters should compare the many years Jim and Vicki have volunteered their time and energy in service of our community to the lack of involvement of the Democratic candidates in the numerous boards, commissions, committees and organizations that provide municipal services. The choice is clear. Jim and Vicki have demonstrated that they believe “Chatham Matters” and deserve your vote.
Bruce A. Harris, Mayor
92 Elmwood Avenue
Chatham, NJ 07928