Almost three years ago, I was honored to be elected to the Garwood Council.  I ran because I wanted to make a difference in Garwood, and I felt that as a hard-working, organized, and determined person, I had the skills and qualities to be successful.  While all are essential characteristics, what I’ve come to realize is that among the most important qualities a Councilmember can possess is the ability to keep an open mind, listen, and learn.  These three things have, on occasion, led me to re-assess certain long-held views I had when first entering office.  The most significant example of this comes with a recent decision I made to support the purchase of a new rescue platform ladder truck for the Fire Department. 

I remember campaigning door-to-door back in 2016 and being asked my thoughts about the possible purchase of a ladder truck by several residents - some of whom were even members of our fire department.  I remember the tough conversations as I told them that I wasn’t ready to say yes to that. Those conversations were not easy, but I had to be honest, and while I understood many of the obvious “pros,” I didn’t feel the business case had been fully made, nor was I satisfied it was financially feasible for Garwood at that point in time.

Again, it’s been nearly three years since those initial conversations, but in that small amount of time, there is actually much that has changed on both fronts.

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I have had the chance to learn more extensively about the Fire Department –its makeup, the calls they respond to, and the buildings they can and cannot safely reach.  Over the last several months, they presented a thorough case and have invested the time to ensure the Council, our Citizens Advisory Panel, and through town halls, the residents had every opportunity to understand their points of view on the benefits, the limitations of mutual aid, and why they feel a borough-owned ladder truck was essential to Garwood’s future safety and well-being. With every conversation or new piece of information I was presented, my view on the necessity of the truck further evolved.

On the other side of the coin we have the cost. While clearly the depth of my understanding of the borough’s budget has increased since first elected, also has the health of our borough’s finances.  We have managed to maintain, and in some cases, even expand, services all while keeping municipal tax increases historically low or, in the case of last year, none at all.  Also, and crucially, we have some new large revenue sources coming online soon with new redevelopment projects.  These factors greatly eased my concern as to the cost and financial feasibility, which I hope has also reassured our residents.

A compelling new case had been made which cemented my decision to support the purchase of the new firetruck.  I pursued new viewpoints, processed new information, and remained open-minded. As I run for re-election to Garwood Council, I want to let Garwood residents know that I remain committed to listening and learning as more important decisions are to come. I believe that is truly the job of a Councilmember and I humbly ask for your support.  Please vote for Blumenstock, Lazarow and Graham on November 5th.

Jen Blumenstock

Garwood Councilwoman and Candidate