Government

Q&A with Primary Candidate Corey Biller for Millburn Township Committee

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Candidate Corey Biller Credits: Courtesy of Corey Biller
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MILLBURN, NJ - TAPinto Millburn and Short Hills asked each of the three candidates the same set of questions to help readers get to know the individuals running in the upcoming primary on June 5. The Q&A's will be published one per day, in alphabetical order. TAPinto Millburn and Short Hills is not a political organization and does not endorse any candidate. 

Q&A with Candidate Corey Biller

1. Please provide a brief description of your background including your profession, your family, and how long you have lived in the township.

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My wife Lisa and I grew up in New Jersey and attended both high school and Rutgers College
together. We have two young daughters who are students in the Millburn School District, one
is a second grader at the South Mountain Elementary School where she has been a student
since she attended the Integrated Preschool, and the other is a South Mountain graduate who
now is in the inaugural class of the new Washington School. Lisa is very involved in our
daughters’ schools. She is on the PTO Executive Board for the Washington School, serving as
the Vice President of Communication and she also handles all of the PTO communication for
the South Mountain Elementary School.

At Rutgers, I graduated magna cum laude with degrees in both Political Science and
Communication in 1999. While at Rutgers College, I was elected and served as my Sophomore
and Junior class Treasurer and my Senior class President. After college, I attended Benjamin
N. Cardozo School of Law where I graduated cum laude in 2002.

I am a practicing employment and benefits law attorney, licensed in New Jersey and New
York. I have worked for top national law firms in NYC and am currently employed as Assistant
General Counsel, Employment & Benefits Law for one of the world’s largest multi-national
healthcare corporations. As a defense attorney, I have mastered the skill of representing and
championing the best interests of my clients.
(see question 3 for years in Millburn)

2. Please provide a description of any public offices you have held. How have you participated in
Millburn civic life before now? 


My passion for community involvement was instilled in me by my parents at a very young age.
As a child, I volunteered at a local nursing home, championed diversity awareness campaigns,
and served in youth group leadership roles. While in college, I continued my community
service by volunteering at a New Brunswick, NJ soup kitchen and `serving as my Sophomore
and Junior class Treasurer and Senior class President.

In the Millburn-Short Hills community, I have acted as a community leader regarding
numerous issues before the Millburn Township Committee and Millburn Board of Education. In
this role, I have spoken both publicly at meetings, and also privately with individual members,
to help broker reasoned and compromised solutions to help avoid community strife. I have
also been selected for, and served, in numerous official community leadership roles including:

  • Member of the Millburn-Short Hills Fourth of July Committee, Inc.
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of Congregation B’nai Israel Leadership Development subcommittee member
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Benefit Committee Co-Chair
  • Millburn Township Recreation Girls Softball and Soccer Coach
  • Former Member of the Associate Board of Directors of The Jericho Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitating homeless men and women in New York City.

In these roles I learned how to function as a fiduciary representing the best interests of the
groups I served. Additionally, as a result of my extensive experience serving on various
Boards, I am well-versed in the processes and procedures necessary to facilitate collaborative
decision making.

Professionally, I have always been a very strong supporter of providing pro bono legal services
to nonprofit organizations and underserved individuals. In 2007, I was awarded the
Cornerstone Award by Pro Bono Partnership (a nationally recognized organization which
facilitates the provision of quality pro bono legal services) for engaging in the top 10% of pro
bono service hours in New York City. Upon leaving private practice, and commencing
employment as an attorney with a multi-national healthcare corporation, I established a group
which also provides pro bono legal services to nonprofit organizations and underserved
individuals. Currently, I continue to serve as the chair of this group.

3. What motivated you to run for township committee?

When my wife, Lisa, and I decided it was time to make a move to the suburbs and find our
permanent home, it took us well over a year to find the perfect community in which to
establish our roots. We found it in Millburn with its quaint downtown, outstanding schools,
beautiful parks, and small-town charm. After almost 10 years living in our happy home, we
cannot imagine living anywhere else.

I am running for Millburn Township Committee to help make Millburn-Short Hills an even
better place to live and work by anticipating and proactively addressing Township matters
while representing the diverse thoughts and opinions held by my fellow residents and
community members.

I am a passionate and dedicated resident who considers issues with a common
sense, reasoned, and collaborative approach.
Also, as a father of two young girls who are becoming increasingly aware of the real world
around them, it is important for me to model behavior that will foster a sense of
respectful community and responsible citizenship in them and their generation.

4. Do you have the endorsement of your party and if not, why do you think you don’t?

I decided to run for Millburn Township Committee after the Millburn-Short Hills Democratic
Committee had already endorsed a candidate. However, I did receive a rather glowing
endorsement from the MSH Democratic Committee last year. Last winter, I met with the
Chair of the MSH Democratic Committee to gather information in order to make an informed
decision about potentially running for a spot on the Township Committee. After careful
consideration I decided not to run at that time, but indicated that I would likely do so in the
near future. Upon informing the Chair that I would not run at that time, the Chair expressed
her disappointment by stating in an email “I’m so sorry to hear that. You are the perfect
candidate, you know so much about the current issues in the township.”

5. What issues are most important to you and why?

Millburn is not just a one issue town. I believe the most important issues are downtown
revitalization, property taxes, storm preparedness/flood mitigation, and infrastructure
improvements. These issues are important because they represent the opinions of my fellow
residents, as well as Township business owners and employees.

6. How do your positions differ from those of your opponents?

I am not aware if and how my positions differ from my opponents because she has not articulated any position except as it relates to the Complete Streets project.  With respect to Complete Streets, my position is that the Complete Streets project, as presented to our community, was intended to address the laudable goals of downtown revitalization and safety. Unfortunately, the execution of the project missed the mark in significant ways. I fully support first correcting the traffic, navigation, and parking issues caused by the Complete Streets project.

Further, I do not support moving forward with Phase 2 of Complete Streets.  However, after we address the issues caused by Phase I, I support looking for new ways to improve the rest of the Millburn-Short Hills downtown districts.

To be clear, any additional changes to the Millburn-Short Hills downtown business districts must be done by incorporating the diverse opinions and perspectives of our community (both residents and business owners), with appropriate professional guidance, and in a fiscally responsible manner.

I believe, based on a post to her campaign Facebook page, that my opponent is also advocating to address the issues caused by the Complete Streets project, but my opponent's post did not address financial considerations or timing.


7. What challenges does Millburn face?

One of the biggest challenges facing Millburn Township is high property taxes.  On average, Millburn-Short Hills residents have the second highest property taxes in New Jersey. I would like to ease that tax burden while also bolstering the Millburn-Short Hills downtown shopping district through a local property tax reward program. My property tax incentive program is as easy as 1-2-3: 1) Register for a Millburn property tax incentive card; 2) Shop or dine at participating Millburn-Short Hills downtown businesses; and 3) A percentage of each purchase is deposited into your account and is applied against your annual property tax liability. Renters can participate for cash rebates.

Another challenge is addressing the division and issues created by the Complete Streets project. I fully support correcting the traffic, navigation, and parking issues caused by the Complete Streets project. Further, I do not support moving forward with Phase 2 of Complete Streets.  However, after we address the issues caused by Phase I, I support looking for new ways to improve the rest of the Millburn-Short Hills downtown districts. To be clear, any additional changes to the Millburn-Short Hills downtown business districts must be done by incorporating the diverse opinions and perspectives of our community (both residents and business owners), with appropriate professional guidance, and in a fiscally responsible manner. 

Founded in 1857, Millburn is a charming, historic town.  However, one challenge often experienced by charming historic towns is an aging infrastructure. As a longtime homeowner who lived through two hurricanes and countless damaging storms, I experienced the devastation and heartache they cause. I support proactively pursuing smart growth and improvement strategies that will help Millburn maintain its character and provide better quality of life. Proactive infrastructure planning and budgeting will enable Millburn to engage in well-informed decision making, save costs, optimize funding opportunities, and improve the Township in fiscally responsible and environmentally friendly ways.

8. Do you believe Millburn has a cohesive community and, if not, what steps could be taken to
improve this?

For the most part, Millburn is a cohesive community. Millburn is a township of diverse ideas
and talented residents. I frequently volunteer my time, for example, as a member of the
Millburn-Short Hills Fourth of July Committee, as a Trustee for Congregation B’nai Israel, for
the South Mountain School PTO events, and for the Ed Foundation of Millburn Short Hills.
Additionally, I regularly champion causes and issues related to the Board of Education and
Township Committee. During my work with these various associations and causes I have had
the pleasure to work with many of my very talented and dedicated neighbors. Millburn-Short
Hills would not be the elite town that it is without the collaboration of our residents. For
example, the passion and dedication of the Ed Foundation and each of the school’s PTOs is a
critical factor in the school district’s continued excellence. The Township’s annual July 4th
celebration contributes to the charm of the town and would not exist but for the teamwork of
a hardworking group of residents.

9. What is your opinion of the Complete Streets plan and what would you propose to address the
problems it has created?

The Millburn-Short Hills downtown is one of the crown jewels of our community but was in need of revitalization and safety improvements. As presented to our community, the Complete Streets project was intended to address these laudable goals. Unfortunately, the execution of the project missed the mark in significant ways.

I fully support first correcting the traffic, navigation, and parking issues caused by the Complete Streets project.
Further, I do not support moving forward with Phase 2 of Complete Streets.  However, after we address the issues caused by Phase I, I support looking for new ways to improve the rest of the Millburn-Short Hills downtown districts.

To be clear, any additional changes to the Millburn-Short Hills downtown business districts must be done by incorporating the diverse opinions and perspectives of our community (both residents and business owners), with appropriate professional guidance, and in a fiscally responsible manner.

10. What is your proposal to lower property taxes?

I want to lower our property tax burden while promoting patronage of local Millburn/Short Hills
businesses. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. 1) Register for a Millburn property tax incentive card; 2)
Shop or dine at a participating Millburn/Short Hills downtown business; and 3) A percentage of
each purchase is deposited into your account and is applied against your annual property tax
liability. Renters can participate for cash rebates.

11. What do you think of the fact that town’s teachers are working without a contract and do you
have suggestions to resolve the obstacles to coming to agreement?

Millburn Township’s School District is one of the crown jewels of this town and its teachers
obviously play a critical role in this distinction. As an employment attorney, I know that the
collective bargaining process is very regulated and not always conducive to open dialogue.
Accordingly, it would not be fair or productive for me to comment on the negotiations.
However, I do believe that the Township Committee needs to become more involved in Board
of Education matters, such as alleged improper enrollment by non-residents. If true, such
fraud represents a waste of our tax dollars.

12. Do you believe that the town’s residents are sufficiently involved in the management of the
town and, if not, how this could be improved?

The Township Committee has started to make progress in bringing more residents into the
fold. Better communication and information sharing can help avoid some of the divisiveness
and negativity that has unfortunately characterized many of the recent issues experienced in
our community. Particularly in a busy and diverse community such as ours, not all residents
and business owners can access information in the same manner and modality. Accordingly, it
is important for the Township Committee, its subcommittees, and the Township’s various
departments to explore alternative avenues of creating dialogue and transmitting information.
More effective communication and transparency can be accomplished by arranging town hall
meetings and other informal events on weekends so that more residents can meet members
of the Township Committee, get information, and express their views and ideas.

Additionally, I will look for ways to enable remote participation (not just viewing) in Township
Committee meetings for residents who cannot regularly attend meetings in person; for
example, by leveraging remote electronic communication systems such as Skype, Facebook
Live, and/or Twitter. Also, I want to increase both the Township’s and residents’ use of the
Notify Me and Swift911 notification systems and social media to promote awareness of issues
and events, solicit input and ideas regarding decisions being made by the Township, and
encourage more residents to become regularly active in the local government process.

 

Editor's Note:  In the interest of full transparency, Jonathan Sym, owner of TAPinto Millburn/Short Hills, is a Republican Committeeman in Millburn Township.  Mr. Sym has no involvement with any election coverage on TAPinto Millburn/Short Hills.

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