LIVINGSTON, NJ — As 2017 ends and 2018 begins, Essex County native Edward Meinhardt will begin his first one-year term as Livingston Township Mayor.
Meinhardt, a father of two and a Livingston resident of nearly 22 years, hopes to continue the council’s mission to listen to Livingston residents and make decisions that are in the residents’ best interest.
“I intend to be a very open and listening mayor, just like all the past mayors and council members have been over the last four years that we've all been together,” he said. “We have spent collectively a lot of time listening to the residents and organizing extra meetings on important issues. We've always been happy to ask residents to come out and let their voices be heard and I certainly intend to carry that forward because I think that serves very well in terms of a small-town government."
Meinhardt graduated from Millburn High School in 1982 and Boston University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts in finance. He has been in sales ever since, working initially for his family business and currently serving as Regional Director of Sales at Panasphere Premium Surfaces, which sells architectural building products.
"My role in this position as well as my entire career in sales helps me in the political world and as mayor because it's all about getting along with different people and doing what's best either for my customers or for the residents of Livingston,” said Meinhardt. “Being able to get along with people and talk to people properly, treating them the way they expect to be treated, is the same with our residents as with my customers. I value both relationships very closely.”
Meinhardt was inspired to run for Livingston Township Council after serving for four years as president at Temple B’nai Abraham, which he has attended since childhood. He said this position taught him the importance of giving back to the community as well as doing things to better the community.
During his one-year term as mayor, Meinhardt said he and his fellow council members share the same goals. Some major goals include having a township manager seated by the end of the first quarter of 2018 as well as continuing to work collaboratively with the Livingston Board of Education on issues that affect the entire community.
“The board of education elected officials and the town council elected officials—I believe in the last 20 years—have never worked so closely before,” said Meinhardt. “We've done some great projects this year, including redoing the baseball and softball field on the Oval, redoing the tennis courts at the high school, working on the tennis courts at Heritage with six dedicated Pickleball courts and making a right-only turn onto Hillside from Foxcroft to alleviate traffic. These are shared services that really benefit the entire town, so we look forward to expanding that relationship within the board of ed and looking for more shared-services opportunities with surrounding towns as well."
He also looks forward to continuing discussion on finding a new site for the Livingston Department of Public Works, improving Riker Hill Art Park and potentially implementing a Livingston Renewable Energy Aggregation Program.
“Deputy Mayor Anthony worked hard in 2016 to receive a commitment from the county to improve the Riker Hill Art Park and we certainly are going to work hard now to push forward on that enterprise,” said Meinhardt. “We are also going to continue looking into the energy aggregation, which hopefully will play a big factor in Livingston becoming an even more green and sustainable town."
Meinhardt also hopes that a township-wide mobile application will be up and running in 2018.
“That's something that's going to be a very helpful in terms of communication for the entire town as well as finishing up our website,” he said. “Reverse 9-1-1 calls will also really help in the future to get the word out on important issues, so that's something I'm going to look into as well."
As mayor, Meinhardt said he also intends to spend more time getting to know local youth and helping them to understand how their township government works.
“I'm sure some of them one day want to be political science majors or maybe get into government after they graduate college and I think getting them involved and understanding that would be great,” he said. “I'd also like to see more youth, especially high school kids, come to our meetings to understand the workings of the town.”
Prior to becoming a councilman in 2015, Meinhardt was a member of the Livingston Zoning Board of Adjustments from 2013 to 2014 and chair of the Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee from 2016 to 2017. He currently sits as liaison on a variety of township committees, including the Livingston Committee for Diversity and Inclusion and the local sports council for three years each.
“I’ve really gotten to enjoy the work on the diversity committee and I’m very respectful of the work that they do, especially during these times,” he said. “I’m also very proud of the work that we have done in opening the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Community Field. We have now granted 100 percent access to the high school athletic department Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., so that’s been a real game changer for Livingston sports and it’s been wonderful watching [everyone] use the fields.”
Meinhardt has also been a committed member of the Livingston Soccer Club since 2005, holding several positions over the last several years in addition to coaching soccer from 1999 to 2012, Livingston recreation girls softball from 2000 to 2009, Livingston National Little League from 2001 to 2011 and Livingston recreational basketball (boys and girls) from 2003 to 2015.
He and his wife of 25 years, Elena, moved to Livingston in 1999. His daughter, Jillian, 22, is a 2013 Livingston High School graduate, a 2017 graduate of the University of Maryland and is currently working toward a master’s degree in social work at Rutgers University. His son, Garrett, 19, is a 2016 Livingston High School graduate and is currently a sophomore at the University of Michigan.
Livingston has recently become the home of Meinhardt’s mother and mother-in-law as well. He said the entire Meinhardt-Lurie Family is very invested in the Township of Livingston.
Meinhardt will be officially sworn in as Mayor of Livingston at Monday's reorganization meeting.