CHATHAM, NJ — First-time Republican candidate Mareza I. Estevez announced her candidacy for Chatham Township Committee on April 3. Township residents now have three Republican candidates from which to choose for two open seats on the Township Committee in the June 6 Republican primary.
Estevez (will be listed third in the June 6 Republican primary ballot) opines that “a contested GOP primary will be good for township voters, who will have a choice. Isn’t that what representative government is supposed to be about?”
Estevez, known as Rez to friends and colleagues, is a practicing corporate attorney and a mother of two school-age children in the Chatham public schools. She says, “I am a fiscal conservative and a staunch advocate for integrity and openness in local government. I believe that the Township Committee should consistently listen to and collaborate openly with residents.”
“Unfortunately,” Estevez said, “the Township Committee has shown a tendency to shut out residents from participating in their local government.” She cites two recent examples of what the Township Committee needs to fix.
One example is the Township Committee’s abrupt ending of the summer recreation program historically operated out of Southern Boulevard School (SBS) for first to fifth grade children. The Township Committee ended the program in February 2017, asserting that the program had lost revenue over the course of years. Yet no evidence of a failing camp was presented to the public until the camp was abruptly cut. The Township Committee apparently had no financial information at the program level of detail. “This means Township elected officials do not demand enough financial analysis on the micro level,” said Estevez.
One hundred sixteen Borough and Township children had been enrolled last summer, and Township residents who attended Township Committee meetings in recent weeks said that better marketing would have increased enrollment. The camp served parents seeking low-cost local camp options and local teens seeking summer employment. There had been approximately 300 campers in the program a few years ago, and surrounding towns still have thriving recreation summer camps.
Another example is the Township Committee’s unannounced “Take Pride In Chatham Township Day” proclamation, which the Township Committee issued unilaterally on March 9 without public input or a vote. First, the proclamation fell far short from the “welcoming resolution” that residents sought to discuss with the Township Committee. Second, the Township Committee’s proclamation and photo appeared to be a publicity stunt and an end-run around the 35 township residents who sought, in person, to constructively discuss a “welcoming resolution” during a public comment period.
Estevez feels strongly that Chatham Township needs a welcoming resolution to express resident opposition to intolerance in the face of increasing harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) incidents in the Chatham school district, and the incorrect portrayal in national media that the Chatham school district curriculum contained "Islamic indoctrination." Estevez noted, “it’s ironic that an inclusiveness proclamation was issued in a non-inclusive way.”
A fiscal conservative, Estevez maintains a hard “low taxes” stance. She lauds the Township Committee in supporting the highest quality of life in Chatham Township while holding the line on low taxes. Estevez notes that, in contrast, neighboring towns such as Millburn and Summit charge among the highest property taxes in the state. “We can take pride that Chatham Township’s taxes are lower than others in the area, including Morris County towns such as Chester, Mendham, and Mountain Lakes. Let's make sure that Chatham Township keeps up its low tax track record,” said Estevez.
Estevez is highly qualified to be a municipal leader. In her 10-plus years of experience as lead in-house counsel for a global Fortune 300 publicly-traded company, Estevez’s main role is integrity by ensuring and enhancing legal compliance. She serves as lead in-house legal advisor to a world-wide employer with more than 150,000 employees. She leads development of proactive plans, strategies and communications to align corporate operations and goals with federal and state laws and administrative policies.
Overall, Estevez has practiced law for more than 20 years in NJ, NY, and D.C. She holds two degrees from Rutgers University: a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science.
As a working mother with children in the Chatham school district, Estevez understands the day-to-day challenges of balancing a demanding career with family and community service. She has also served as a board member of Morris County Women’s Republican Committee.
Robert Gallop, who served the Chatham Township Committee for three consecutive terms in elected office, including a three-year term as deputy mayor (2011-2013), enthusiastically endorses Estevez. “In addition to her firm no-tax-increases position, Rez is an energetic advocate, one highly qualified to ensure that the township committee represents all areas of Chatham Township. Her ability to bring together talented people and drive open, participatory government distinguishes her.”
You can learn more about Estevez and her campaign at the “Rez for Chatham” page on Facebook.