Michelle Torpey Recently Sat Down with TAPinto to talk about her November 2019 run for Borough Council.
Q. What's your line of work?
Torpey: I am a registered Pharmacist and have worked both for independent stores and large retail chains. I rose through the ranks of A&P Supermarkets to lead their metro NY & NJ district and managed sales and operations for over 40 stores, 200 employees -- generating over $20 million in revenue. Throughout all of it, though, the part that was most rewarding for me was my one-to-one interaction with patients. I have taken that personable approach with me in the roles I have had since then. I currently work part-time at Rock Ridge Pharmacy in town.
After years of volunteering at Byrd School and then serving as its Home School Association President, I decided to take on a more formal role in education at St. Catharine's in Glen Rock. I am currently the Co-Director of Religious Education where I have a chance to work with and educate our youth. With all the tensions we see today in society – it’s more important than ever to create a strong foundation of awareness and respect for others among our children and teens, so we can grow together as a community, celebrate our diversity and embrace a life of service.
In July I was appointed to the Glen Rock Borough Council as an interim Council Member. It is an exciting role where I hope I can make a more direct and positive impact on our residents' daily lives and in the long-term future of Glen Rock. I enjoy getting things done.
Q. How do you think your professional experience will help you continue on the Council if elected?
Torpey: As a Pharmacist, I have to stay up to date with complex and ever-evolving medical and insurance issues, not to mention you have to be accurate, personable and empathetic. As a sales and operations leader of an entire retail team, I had to provide a vision, manage my team and deliver results. And lastly as an educator, I have to earn the credibility of our youth and provide positive leadership. I see all of these experiences and skills as transferrable to my role as a councilwoman.
My fellow running mates, Sanjiv Ohri, candidate for Mayor, and Eric Schlett, candidate for Council, bring equally strong and complementary skills and experience - all very relevant for the challenges we face.
Q. What is calling you to run for council?
Torpey: I have loved this town from the day we moved here in 2000. For me, this is an evolution of my record of service to the town. Since I have lived here, I have volunteered and led efforts across the Home School Association, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the Special Education Advisory Group, Independence Day and Downtown for the Holidays Committees -- I have experienced firsthand how residents working together can accomplish so much to help the Borough.
Q. What are 3 or 4 pressing issues in Glen Rock right now?
Torpey: I can actually come up with a few more than that. Over the past summer during my role as Council Member, the most common issues that have surfaced are resident and pedestrian safety, fiscal stewardship, the Charter Study, support for our senior citizens and engaging residents sooner in important Borough decisions.
The safety of our children, especially when it comes to Faber Field is an issue we must finally address. We have the opportunity to fix a deteriorating field into a Borough asset that adds value. Traffic safety is also high on everyone's radar as we have more distracted drivers and pedestrians and the Borough is currently in the midst of major road work and repair.
Fiscal stewardship, or more plainly managing the budget, is always a topic of resident concern. Developing and sharing with the community our investment plan and priorities is important to the residents. We are a small town with limited funds with no desire to increase taxes, so we have to prioritize and be able to explain and stand behind our decisions to ensure residents are confident we are doing our best to maintain and improve this town and ultimately, what may be their biggest asset -- their home value.
There is significant support behind the Charter Study -- which would formalize the discussion to explore allowing our town government to operate in a non-partisan way, more like Ridgewood. This could help reduce the current politically charged atmosphere -- which many residents of Glen Rock are tired of. In past years, resident voters would focus more on the best person for the role, not political affiliation. Even though I am a Republican -- I am a Glen Rocker first and I strongly support allowing the residents to be given a chance to have their voices heard.
After speaking with many seniors in town, there is definitely opportunity to find ways to make the decision to stay in Glen Rock one they can feel good about. We can and should do more -- whether it is services, facilities or potentially tax relief.
Lastly, the one that comes up often is including the residents earlier on in the Council's decision-making process so when issues arise, they are not a surprise, and all can agree they are relevant to Glen Rock. Our Borough Council only meets twice a month -- ideally that time is spent on issues most important to our residents.
Q. What is your main job as a councilwoman, do you feel, since you have had some months on the council now?
Torpey: I see my role as representative for residents and business owners in town, regardless of political affiliation. I’ve spent my first few weeks getting to meet all the key town leaders, reviewing the budget and also understanding the overall process. I have respect for my fellow Council Members and Mayor and see many challenges and opportunities ahead. I meet with residents often and listen to their suggestions and concerns. I’ve jumped right into my role on the Council and am eager to make a difference.
Q. Please offer personal background and family history.
Torpey: I grew up in Farmingdale, New York, the daughter of a U.S. Postal worker and school lunch aide. I have three younger brothers and early-on pitched in to help with home responsibilities as my mother had to go off to work. Though I was brought up Catholic, my family has a mixed religious background – my father was raised in the Jewish faith. I was lucky enough to discover my European heritage a little more this summer -- tracing my roots back to the 1700’s across what is today Germany, Poland and Ukraine.
I met my husband Joe while attending St. John’s School of Pharmacy and we have been together ever since and will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary this year. We have been blessed with three wonderful children: Caroline (17), Claire (15) and Dan (12), and they have had the privilege of attending our great schools – at least now drop-off is in one location – finally!
In my spare time…I like to volunteer.