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..."  This is the final profile in the series.  On Sunday, look for an index of all the "Five Questions with..." stories. 

Name:  Salvatore Bonaccorso

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Current Occupation: owner and operator of a landscape contracting company

Education: high School and some college

Family: wife Geraldine and 3 children: Christina, Kelly, and Joey

Years Lived in Clark: 52 years

1. Why are you running for Mayor?

I’m running for my 5th term as your mayor. I believe there still is a lot of work to do. Local government really is a day by day work in progress. We’re preparing our state-mandated C.O.A.H. plan (Council on Affordable Housing). Our past work on the C.O.A.H. plan has kept Hyatt Hills Golf Course a recreation facility. Without a proper plan in place we could be subject to “Builder Remedy” and a place like Hyatt could be at risk to low income housing and over-development. This is when experience counts!

2. Property taxes never go out of style.  Discuss the state of property taxes in Clark. 

Under my leadership Clark has had the lowest increase in taxes in all of Union County for the past 16 years. Remarkable, with all the services Clark Township provides. Proper development, like the Clark Commons and the Woodcrest Adult Housing Center, is a hallmark to help keep our tax base viable.

With little state-aid it’s a balance we provide. These above projects also have had a large impact on our school district; it put money into our classrooms. Unfortunately, we have to brag about low increases, after all, we do live in New Jersey.

3. Discuss the services the Township of Clark provides its citizens.  What does the township do well? What can it do better?  What impact will you have on township services?

Services for our residents is always at the top of my agenda. The Bonaccorso team hired our full-time recreation director, Ralph Bernardo. I’m proud to say, he is a pretty darn good one. We offer the most recreation programs in the county by far.

Our team has instituted a monthly branch collection, spring lawn and leaf clean-up, and a monthly bulky waste clean-up. Our fall leaf clean-up is the most efficient in Union County. Prior to our team, your leaves were cleaned up two times per year, unacceptable.

We’re constantly looking to provide more service and stretch your tax dollars.

4. The Westfield Avenue corridor is a concern to businesses and residents.   What do you think can and should be done along Westfield Avenue and how can you shape its future?

Right now we’re in the planning process to do some purpose zoning changes on Westfield Avenue that would encourage stores/office space with apartments on top, similar to the mixed- use development orchestrated by our neighboring town, Cranford.

We also encouraged a street-scape project earlier this year that the owners of properties along Westfield Avenue rejected. The Jack's Tavern property has signed a lease with CVS Pharmacy. So the gateway to Clark will have a new building housing CVS. It will go before our planning board in early 2017.

5. Why do you feel you deserve the job?  What qualifies you for it?

I do believe I earned your vote to be reelected this November 8th. Look around: services, low tax increases, a clean, green, safe township.

The Clark Commons is a great example of my leadership. When we were asked to change the zoning we sent you a letter with choices asking what you would like to see at the site. You said shopping, and we brought the biggest shopping center project to Clark since the Jersey Gardens Mall. But it’s not your typical strip mall: stone buildings, stamped sidewalks, almost a million dollars in landscaping and year-round flowers. This community shopping center is the envy of central New Jersey.

I was also proud to win for the second time the U.C.C.C. Mayor of the Year award. No other mayor in Union County has received this award twice. I’m humbled by that honor.

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