MILLBURN, NJ - The following is a candidate statement from Samuel D. Levy.
The Millburn Township Committee has performed as an insular governing body for years, accepting lip-service public and stakeholder input, but acting as it prefers without the requisite voter checks and balances. Complete Streets is an example of an $8.2 million bonded project that received scant stakeholder input, but was implemented by the governing team of Republicans Ted Bourke and Ian Mount, who have staked their professional TC reputations (and this election) on the outcome. But merely because Messrs. Bourke and Mount ask voters to allow them to see Complete Streets through its Phase II and III completion next year does not mean starting Complete Streets during an election year warrants their reelection. To the contrary, our elected leaders remain accountable to their constituents for what they have accomplished, not what they promise to fix or clean-up in a follow-up term.
I will bring intellectual honesty to all governing matters, the same approach I took while on the Board of Education from 2006-2013, two of those years as President. While serving on the BOE, I chaired and/or was a leading member of every committee administering our schools, including for years on the joint BOE-Township Committee, working with TC leaders to foster better school-town relations. While serving the community on the BOE, I considered every position and every decision without passion, pride, or prejudice to politics or party. The Township Committee is elected in a partisan vote, but that is where party affiliation should end. And that is why my style – intellectual honesty to all decision making – makes me unique in my approach to local government, and why I am free from the shackles of perceived party loyalty or obligations.
Our issues are not Democrat or Republican, and should not be treated that way. Working ‘across the aisle’ is the only way local government functions, and the only way the Township Committee will remain effective, executing the will of Millburn residents. And that will has been repeatedly expressed to me during this campaign, including asking when the Township Committee will adequately address flood mitigation in South Mountain and other areas; move the recycle center (town dump) enabling a better use of valuable downtown real estate; develop the former Rimback Building space; prepare an action plan for service reduction caused by the next large storm and extended power loss; and, of course, reducing municipal taxes, which are the highest of any neighboring town and more than 3X as much as all other similar NJ communities. While fixing the mess that Complete Streets has caused and reexamining the downtown design is on everyone’s mind, this election is about more than downtown redevelopment: it is about what the community wants Millburn-Short Hills to be and look like in the near and far future. We have far more at stake than Complete Streets, and that is why my vision for Millburn’s future extends to all of our streets and community, not just downtown.
Voters this year have qualified choices for Township Committee, which is important because we are a demanding community. We expect our leaders to govern strongly, but with meaningful public input and participation. The public’s charge is to pay attention to issues, become educated about our elected leaders’ positions, and exercise our right to be heard and to challenge. The Township Committee needs to do a better job of receiving your voices, and including them in not only day-to-day government, but in strategic long-term planning. That is how I approached my seven-year charge on the Board of Education, and that is how I intend to receive your opinion if elected to the Township Committee.
Samuel D. Levy