You can always tell when it’s an election year in Hawthorne. The Hawthorne Democrats hastily assemble a slate of candidates, most of whom have no experience in municipal government or record of service to the community, and then start telling anyone who will listen what’s wrong with Hawthorne. Judging by Meaghan Tuohey’s post this week, old habits die hard.

As I’ve always told voters, campaign promises are easy to make but difficult to keep, especially when you don’t know how the system works. So before you believe anything a candidate tells you, ask them the tough questions. For example:

Tuohey claims that if elected, her candidates will improve town services, particularly regarding trash and recycling collection. Nice hot-button issue, given the problems we’ve had recently. But I’m sure that both she and Ms. Maciejewski, being lawyers, are well-aware that when a contractor fails to perform, you can’t simply go out and hire somebody else. There are well-defined legal procedures that must be followed and the current administration is doing just that.

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Modern communication methods? If your idea of modern communications involves SMS text messages and the toxic environment that permeates much of social media these days, they may be on to something. The members of Team Goldberg, on the other hand, believe that direct communication – talking about problems person to person – is the best way to solve them. That is why the Mayor has an open door policy and our council members make their phone numbers and email addresses available to the public. No government officials in Hawthorne’s history have been more accessible than we are.

Commuter Village Development? Sounds good. Except those “existing vacant properties” they want to turn into “accessible parking and transit village spaces” don’t legally belong to the Borough. And purchasing them would cost you, the taxpayers, millions of dollars. We know because we’ve done the due diligence that they haven’t. Not only that, some of those sites still require environmental remediation, which could cost hundreds-of-thousands of dollars more if we owned them. Just ask our second ward council candidate – and Chairwoman of the Environmental Commission – Rayna Laiosa. Nobody knows more about that situation than she does. The Democrats would know more about it too… if they ever came to council meetings. But they don’t. Maybe they watch them on TV.

Improve County Relationships? How?  The fact is, Hawthorne has always had a very good working relationship with the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, even when we were disputing the installation of artificial turf in Goffle Brook Park. What makes the Hawthorne Democrats think they’ll establish better lines of communication than we already have? They can’t even communicate among themselves. Ask them to tell you the real reason the Democrat candidate in Ward 2 wants nothing to do with them. You might be surprised. If they can’t even build consensus among themselves, what makes them think they can do it at the Borough or County level?

Smart Economic Development? By all quantifiable indicators, Hawthorne is in the best economic shape it’s been in for decades. We have one of the highest bond ratings in the state, our surplus is healthy, and an independent financial auditor says our fiscal management policies are above reproach. The democrats say they plan to “fill vacant spaces and redevelop our downtown areas”? Ask them “How?” To the best of my knowledge, none of them have brought a single new business into Hawthorne. You don’t have to be an elected official to do that.

Talk is cheap, especially when it comes to campaign rhetoric. Is Hawthorne perfect? No. But it’s in much better shape than it was five, ten or twenty years ago. So if the Goldberg administration is “asleep at the wheel,” as Ms. Tuohey contends, it must be driving one of those futuristic autonomous vehicles we hear so much about these days, because Hawthorne is moving forward and it’s headed in the right direction.