Dear Editor:

I want to address a few points and explain why I support Mayor Brad Cohen in his re-election bid.

1. Redevelopment

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It is important to note that the 2016 affordable housing court settlement happened under a Republican-controlled town council. The town had one year to give the Judge and the state a plan. Our Planning/Engineering department did this in 2016. Through redevelopment laws, the township can incentivize developers to get what we want. For example, the township proposed a recreation facility, road improvements, and school improvements.

Mayor Cohen took office in January 2017. He actively tried to stop problematic developments. The Judge ruled that any further backpedaling will result in the Judge putting a representative on our land use boards. We will then have no say in developments at all. The court will manage our redevelopment without any regard for the needs of the town.

It is not clear what exactly Jesal Amin is proposing at this point. Is he suggesting stopping projects that have already been started, thus leaving blighted construction sites and our town mired in lawsuits?

2. Environmental leadership

The fact of the matter is, East Brunswick already has an industrial area that includes the MCUA landfill. It is also common knowledge that the Republican Party, of which Jesal is a member, has ceded all credibility on environmental issues.

During the Obama administration, the MCUA was cited for both Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act violations. They were forced to perform upgrades on the landfill and the sewage treatment facilities. That work took several years, culminating in the landfill upgrades in the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019.

The work on the landfill last year ran into delays and resulted in unbearable stench spreading over town. Mayor Brad and his team stood up for East Brunswick. They worked with the county and legislature to ensure the project was completed and air quality improved.

Meanwhile, the Republican administration at the federal level gutted both the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Our town’s well being continues to depend on the proper functioning of the MCUA landfill. We are, in effect, at the mercy of the gas collection and leachate treatment facilities there. Nothing can jeopardize our town more than an environmental accident. Climate change is real and will present unprecedented ecological challenges to our town in the coming years.

We need someone with a proven record of environmental leadership to stand up for East Brunswick. That leader is Mayor Brad, and I’ve seen him personally work hard to stand up for East Brunswick.

3. Quelling divisions

Real leaders are proven in a crisis when they must stand up for the most vulnerable among us. Let me offer a study of contrasts.

In the summer of 2019, Republican President Trump, at a rally, told a group of minority congress-women to shut up and go back to where they came from. One of them is a naturalized US citizen. The others were born in America. Whether you agree or disagree with these congress-women's politics, they are Americans. They have as much right to speak about issues as the rest of us.

East Brunswick is a town with a sizable non-native born population. As a naturalized citizen myself, I reached out to the East Brunswick Municipal GOP Committee, of which Jesal Amin is a leader, to comment on the rhetoric coming from the top echelons of the Republican Party. I received nothing but silence.

In contrast, when the racial tensions flared up nationwide in the summer of 2020, Mayor Brad approached the situation with wisdom and calm. He helped quell the anxieties and guided the community through calm and informed introspection. The protests and community engagement in our town were peaceful and meaningful.

We need a leader who will not hide in dark corners of social media when such tensions flare-up. We need a leader who will speak up and help the community come together and heal. I’ve seen Mayor Brad do it time and time again. Jesal Amin, in the meantime, was nowhere to be found.

Final thoughts

We live in times of turbulence and change, whether we like it or not. We need proven leaders with proven ideas. We need someone who can engage the community in making the town a better place. We need someone who will speak up for the town and its residents, whether on environmental issues, post-COVID recovery or on racial tensions. We need a leader for all of us. This is why I support Mayor Brad and his team in his re-election.

Oleg Dulin, East Brunswick