1. Do you think our main street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?
I think area considered to be the main street/ downtown area are successful in that businesses like Seabra’s, US Post Office, Chase Bank, the Beauty Supply stores, Laundromat, Nail Salon, Convenience store, T-Mobile, and Chinese restaurant have longevity in the area. While I frequently patronize most of the businesses in this area, more variety should be offered. In particular a restaurant, where families can dine in will be a good improvement for the community. As far as healthy, in what sense do you mean healthy? If one is to conclude do it meet the standards of the town health department, it must be if these stores remain open and in business. If you mean health in the abstract of positive environment, I would say more variety of businesses to engage all the Hillside Residents to patronize this area.
2. What’s more important for our city right now: building new homes and commercial space or rehabbing/expanding/better utilizing our existing homes and storefronts?
It is important to preserve the richness and beautification of our wonderful town, we should beautify the existing homes and storefronts. For example building a brand new structure next to a property that is dilapidated will not add any value to that area. But improving those existing structures then building new structures if there is adequate space will bring the most value to the area. However, if there are empty lots or properties that are condemned. Then building a new structure will be more conducive to the area where the vacant lot or condemned property is situated.
3. How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? If not, what will you do to increase those? Do we have enough options?
As a town that is only 2.2 square miles, there are a variety of transportation options within the township. We are systemically situated where we can access every major roadway in the state of New Jersey. We are in excellent proximity to Newark Liberty International Airport. We are also located next two major Train stations (Elizabeth and Union), both which have direct service to Newark and New York Penn stations. The Elizabeth station take you directly to Newark Liberty International airport. We have 5 NJ Transit Bus routes, in which one route goes to NY Port Authority, while the others route travel throughout several cities and towns. I feel we have a pleather of transportation options.
4. If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?
Hillside Ordinance § 188-24 Appearance of buildings. I would amend this to include signage, and storefront. I would implement a pre-designated sign/ ornament size for all businesses in town. I would also require storefronts to have the same criteria on the front of each store. For example windows clear from lettering which seem to be distracting and not clear. These changes will beatify the affected area where the businesses are located. Towns like Westfield, Montclair, Milburn, and Clark to name a few, have similar ordinances. This concept is also common among associations in condos and townhouses. It promotes uniformity and establish a clean and neat environment. This will increase the value of homes that are near those business. It will also beautify our community.
5. How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our town?
I plan to create a strategic communication plan with all residents on the myriad of issues ongoing within the township. This communication plan will include utilization of a variation of communication tools to share and learn relevant information, that are directly affecting the residents. In person Ward meetings, social media, newsletters, teleconferences, public access channel and chat and chew sessions will be established to provide and collect information. This will create a foundation establishing a collaborative effort for all the residents in the decision-making process.
6. If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new piece of public infrastructure in our city (road, bridge, etc.) how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing?
I would start the evaluation process of assuring my council constituents and township administration are aware of the such proposal. I would then evaluate if the proposal follows the state statues for such projects in the Township. I would simultaneously discuss with my council colleagues and township administration to make sure such proposal is in line with the Township’s master plan. I would also conduct an efficiency analysis to determine the impact that such proposal will have on the residents daily lives and the community overall. More importantly, I will not make any promises to accept any proposals without communicating and discussing with all the stakeholders within the town.
7. If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?
1. Accountability- assuring every dollar generated through revenues, collected through taxes, grants received are utilized in the manner which it has been designated to be used. Making sure departments spending and purchases are imperative to the proper functioning of the respective department.
- hold all who have the responsibility of handling the finances to the highest level of integrity. This is especially important when budgets are being prepared, proposed, and presented to the public.
3. Transparency- make every process which involves the township finances clear, concise, and open. Communicate and empower all residents on the technical processes that govern the township finances.
8. If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?
I would use this grant in a few areas. First and foremost, to offset our high tax bills. I will also put some into the infrastructures around town. I would then put the remaining into programming, in which every population of the resident can benefit. I believe these areas would be most beneficial as they are critical to the prosperity of the township.
9. What neighborhood do you live in? Why? Where are your favorite places to spend time in our town?
Westminster, I live here because when I was shown my house 17 years ago, it had the essential amenities and criteria for what my husband and I was looking for in a home purchase.
I spend a great deal of my time at the Community Center (known to some as the Pal), Library, and Shoprite. These are some of my favorite places in town. I would love to spend time in the Senior center, but the hours of operations conflict with my work schedule.
Editor's Note: All candidates were provided the same questions and opportunity to respond. We are publishing all responses received by the established deadline as submitted by the candidates in their entirety.