MILLBURN- On Thursday evening the two candidates vying for a seat on the township committee, Democrat Dianne Eglow and Republican Jodi Rosenberg, joined school board candidates Berylin Bosselman, David Leibowitz and Phillip Choong in an open forum sponsored by The Short Hills Association at the Education Center.
This was an opportunity for all the candidates to share their ideas, clarify their positions and introduce themselves to township residents. Tom Hildner of The Short Hills Association moderated the combined town committee and school board forum to a packed audience. The format was more of a question and answer session than a debate. After all candidates made opening statements, pre-set as well as open floor questions from the audience were heard.
In her opening statement, Eglow was critical of the current administration as she commented that she was not simply “next in line to advance the failed policies and agendas of the past”. Furthermore, she mentioned how the committee today “fails to openly communicate with our residents.” She spoke about how the Complete Streets Initiative is “not complete”, including concerns that Chamber of Commerce issues are not heard and downtown merchants are not protected.
Rosenberg also made communications a main theme in her opening, as she desires greater discussion between residents and the township committee before issues are decided. She talked about how current technologies such as newspapers, social media, and websites can better be used to shape the future of the community and improve overall communications.
Viewing safety as a top priority, Rosenberg is advocating for safer streets particularly in the downtown area. She noted vehicle congestion, concerns for pedestrian safety and the need for greater police presence. Realizing that the Complete Streets Initiative is still in the early phases of development, she vows to follow its progress closely as it is further refined. Rosenberg wants to see more businesses in downtown as she understands the challenges of entrepreneurs. She is a business owner and has a law practice on Millburn Ave. She wants to work with groups such as the Downtown Millburn Development Association and Main Street New Jersey to attract businesses while maintaining a commercial mix that would maintain the integrity of a small town community.
Eglow’s strategic vision for Millburn was also for a safer and well-integrated downtown. She noted specific changes that she would like to make such as better crosswalks, house numbers on every home that can be clearly seen by emergency vehicles, dedicated pickup/drop off spots at the train stations and lights on the third floor of the municipal parking garage. As a 15-year veteran of the Millburn/Short Hills First Aid Squad, she has front line experience in matters of safety. She desires to work with the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Association to encourage business development.
When asked how the candidates would be an effective community representative in the face of development challenges, Eglow would appoint the most experienced people and encourage being proactive rather reactive when dealing with such issues. She commented on her positions on some town issues such as her opposition to Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA) locating within Millburn’s borders as well as opposing Stop&Shop establishing a store near the township. As a testament to her leadership, Eglow cited an example where she “spearheaded an effort” to avert the building of an 800-foot dam in the South Mountain Reservation “when then sitting Mayor, Sandra Haimoff, was about to sign off on this plan.”
Rosenberg’s reply to the same question was that she would listen, review and seek remedies. She also mentioned the importance of taking control of situations and to act out of knowledge rather than fear.
On the subject of the environment Rosenberg promoted the use of electric vehicles and installing charging stations as a way to lower the town’s carbon footprint. Additionally, she recommended the addition of solar panels on public buildings. Eglow generally concurred with Rosenberg but did note financial concerns to implement these initiatives as well as re-iterating that “having a radioactive pharma plant in our town is a decision I cannot support. That goes against everything I believe in.”
Questions from the audience were asked, then both candidates moved on to closing comments. Rosenberg reiterated her ability to communicate well and her confidence as an attorney, mother and in the town’s ability to make the best choice for the next committee member. Eglow remarked how her strong beliefs and principals trump her inexperience as a politician and public speaker. She also gave additional examples of her leadership abilities and her desire to serve the town.