To the Editor:

Having lived in the Township and Green Village all of my life, I am very concerned about the direction the Township Committee has taken in recent years. We have looming financial issues from the lack of strategic planning, are facing increased taxes, the Master Plan seems to have been thrown out of the window and we are failing to protect and enhance our community. Generations of my family have lived here and I want the best for generations to come. We face some significant challenges in the next few years. And it is important for voters to know where candidates stand and how they will work on behalf of our residents. I am concerned about over-development leaving few affordable homes for seniors and young families. Developers are moving into smaller neighborhoods and changing their character.

The planning board was supposed to address this issue but it was buried in a special committee in 2018 and has yet to be addressed this year. And our beautiful environment. The wholesale cutting down of trees in our community is awful. In the past the Committee used to work with the power companies to prune trees, now they are just clear-cutting. And we are still losing power due to substations failing. It's not acceptable. As a Committee member, I would gain consensus to do a review of our master plan, which is out of date, in some cases by more than 10 years. This is our guiding document for our future and it should be taken seriously. I would bring back our tree committee, of which I was a member when it was still functioning. And I would seek to establish a functional and proactive relationship with JCP&L and PSE&G to ensure out needs are met not just theirs. I believe you earn respect through your words and your actions. I fought to reduce Shunpike down from four lanes to two because it was better for our community, I helped people serving on our Chatham Emergency Squad, I was one of the first members of the Open Space Committee, Past President of the Art League of the Chathams and more .

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I enjoy working with people to enhance our community, solve problems and get things done. We need more of that on the Committee. We need to stop the partisanship and communicate with our residents instead of demeaning them. While canvassing, I have had people actually ask me why would I want to be on the committee since it is so unpleasant. I have had people tell me they won't come to a meeting to express their concerns because people are treated so poorly. We need collaboration and better representation for all segments of our community. I would like to create a senior advisory committee so that seniors can have a say in what they want to see in our community. Our senior center is wonderful but not everyone belongs and we are missing out those voices that are vital to our community. Both Stacey and I firmly believe that we can get the township back on track financially and enhance our community by being proactive not reactive. Through our commitment to community service and leadership through our volunteerism, we have proven that we have put our Township over partisanship. We hope you feel the same way and will cast your vote on November 5th for Celeste Fondaco and Stacey Ewald.

Celeste Fondaco

Chatham Township