MADISON, NJ - It was almost a year ago, when Bob Conley was elected as Madison’s first democratic mayor in 20 years. As a lifelong resident of Madison, Conley is proud to serve as the town’s mayor.
After serving on town council for two terms, he knew he could run for re-election, run for mayor or retire, all of which were viable options, he said. But, Conley decided to take the plunge and run for office.
“After two terms as a councilman it was time for me to step up and provide leadership,” Conley said. While he is outnumbered on council five to one by Republicans, he has a good relationship with his council.
One of the reasons Conley chose to stay in the small town of Madison was the YMCA, where he has worked since the 8th grade. He started part time as a teen, but slowly made his way up the ladder and today is the vice president of operations.
Because of his job, many residents know him and have a great relationship with him, he said. Conley said he is always approachable and there have been several occasions when he was walking or riding his bike in town when some yelled “hey mayor” and he stopped and listened to their concerns.
“Madison is a special town,” he said.
People are always willing to help each other out and do their best to make the town look nice, he said. Conley said one of his favorite times of the year is May Day, when over 1,000 volunteers on the first day of May participate in mulching, weeding and beautifying the town. There is also the extremely exciting Bottle Hill day on the first day of October where the annual town festival and street fair are held.
The police and fire departments are remarkable and unlike neighboring towns, the community has a full time paid fire department, the mayor said. They each do a fantastic job and are always there for the residents, Conley said.
“If you have great departments you don’t notice them,” the mayor said. “Any fireman would say their role is far more prevention.”
With the children being the future of this generation it is important to provide them with an excellent education, he said. Madison is definitely top notch in this department, he said. After being ranked sixth in the state last year, kids leaving the district for college are surely headed in the right direction, Conley said.
“It really is a great schools system,” he said.
Growing up as the middle child of 11, Conley said he learned how to be patient, respectful, listen and most importantly everyone needs to have a say. Consequently, he enjoys every council meeting because it’s like being back at home. While sometimes it gets hectic, he does his best to keep things calm, he said
Like every town in the state, Madison’s biggest problem is taxes. Conley said Madison is “above the curve in facing taxes,” but it still is an ongoing struggle. The government wants to appease its resident by cutting taxes, but people need to realize if they are cut, services could be taken away as well, he said.
“The only thing worse than paying the high N.J. property tax is paying the high N.J. property tax and getting nothing in return,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure every resident gets a return for their investment.”
Looking into the future, the mayor hopes to reactivate government committees and have more people become involved in the government.