CLARK, NJ – It’s an election year for three Clark Township council positions and the mayor’s seat. Incumbent Republicans Angel Albanese, Al Barr and Bill Smith face challenges from Democrats Jerry Fogle, Michele Miller and Patrick Murphy. Republican mayor Sal Bonaccorso, seeking reelection to a fifth term, is challenged by Democrat Dario Valdivia.
TAPinto Clark will profile each of the candidates in the days leading up to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 with a series entitled "Five Questions with..." Look for a new profile every three days. This is the fourth profile in the series:
Name: Alvin Barr
Current Occupation: Retired, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 1960-1998
Municipal, Civic and Professional Involvement.
Family: Wife: Barbara. Children: Robin, Leslie Beth, Jeffrey
Years Lived in Clark: 45
1. Why are you running for Town Council?
When Mayor Bonaccorso (who was a councilman at the time) asked me to run for council as he was going to be running for mayor, I told him I was not or never want to be a politician. I will never forget him looking at me and saying “I don’t want politicians, I want people who care about the future of Clark.” I thought about that and realizing that Clark was on the verge of bankruptcy, and in terrible condition and doing very little for the residents, I figured this might be the perfect time to change the living conditions in Clark.
I was elected as Councilman-at-Large and was so elated to be a part of the governing body that was helping Clark improve each year and now being one of the best towns in all of Union County. That is definitely the reason I am running for Council once again as I know we will be doing everything we can to continue trying to improve as I like to call it…. “The Great State of Clark”!
2. Rumors abound about various possible development projects (Terminal Ave., Hyatt Hills, Gran Centurions) in Clark. What are your views about future development in Clark? Consider COAH regulations in your response.
Rumors are probably one of the biggest negative actions that happen in any town. If one person gets the wrong idea about some kind of construction work that they heard might be going to happen and tells someone else their thoughts, the story changes over and over with each person telling someone else what they think. A great example is, if someone tells another person there is a slight breeze outside, by the time it gets to the tenth person, we are having a category 5 hurricane!
If you look at all the development that has been happening in Clark - and that includes the work that was done on Terminal Ave - upon completion of any development the town does, you will see that every project that was developed was done with what would be best for Clark, always as the main decision in our minds. Remember, many times there were various developments that could have been made that would cause negative actions on the Township. We always pondered every situation, going over each item and always finalizing what was best for our township.
Another example would be the story that is going around about Hyatt Hills. The owner of Hyatt Hills wants to sell and a company in New York wants to purchase it. That company has thoughts of putting in a shopping center and housing which would have to satisfy COAH and its rule on affordable housing. So many people (because of rumors) think that is what is going to happen. The mayor and council will and are doing everything possible to keep Hyatt Hills as it is and so far, it looks like that is what is going to happen.
3. Property taxes never go out of style. Discuss the state of property taxes in Clark.
Property Taxes…… almost every home and business owner always wishes taxes would be lower. Well, the mayor and every member of council wishes we could lower it also. Of course putting aside everyone’s wishes, we all know that the town runs on the taxes it collects.
Clark’s taxes have risen each year as minimally as possible covering our normal budget items and all items that have risen beyond our control such as electricity, fuel for all our service vehicles, heating fuel, needed repairs and so many items that have risen by the state and federal governments and are passed on to the towns. If you look at the towns surrounding Clark, you will see that their taxes have gone from always being much lower than Clark's, have now risen to being equal and, in some areas, higher then Clark. You also have to take into consideration that we supply so many services to Clark’s residents that are all included in our taxes.
4. Why do you feel you deserve the job? What qualifies you for it?
One of the main reasons that I feel I deserve the job is, firstly, I love this town. I have been a resident of Clark for 46 years and to me Clark is home! Another reason I believe I deserve the job is that I was a resident of Clark thru many different mayors and council people and I have seen some decent and some very bad times for the township. Through the many years, I know what helps the town and what hinders the town. Since I have been on council and with our present mayor and council, Clark Township has become a beautiful, safe and very financially stable place to live.
Also, because I am retired and the existing council works so very closely with each other, always helping their fellow council people when necessary, I am able and willing to go to many daytime meetings and functions. Because the other Council members have to be at their jobs and cannot attend these various functions, I am able to report to the council any important items that I have gained knowledge of.
5. What other issues do you think are important to the people of Clark? How would you impact them?
I would say that one of the main issues would be the safety to the town and its residents. We have a police department that I would rate as one of the best and they have proved it many times.
We have a volunteer fire department that it’s hard to realize they are volunteers and not a paid department. I have been liaison to the fire department all sixteen years that I have been on council this coming November. I was given a pager and have gone to many fire calls and it felt so good watching “professionals” at work.
We have a tremendously capable volunteer emergency squad that once again you would think that they were part of a paid hospital squad. We have an outstanding Office of Emergency Management (OEM) that is there on a moment’s notice for any types of emergencies or help with any township organizations that require their type of help.
Other important issues that are important to the residents of Clark are the Department of Public works, the Board of Education, all the departments that help run the various areas that are necessary in running a town. It is the job of the mayor and council to make sure all the departments that affect how the Township runs have the best and most capable people in each department.
All of the information I have given in the 5 questions are the reasons I love this town and the reasons I still want to be a part of the governing body of Clark.
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