MILLTOWN, NJ - Anna Neubauer is a relative newcomer to the political realm, but the longtime resident is running for one of the two open council seats for the Milltown Borough Council. A democrat, Neubauer is running on a ticket with Phil Zambrana Junior, who is seeking a council seat, and Councilwoman Trina Jensen-Mehr, who is running for mayor. She participated in Wednesday's Borough Council Forum. Neubauer moved to Milltown when she was 12 and still lives in the borough with her husband.
"Many of my family and most of my friends live in town and someday I hope to raise children of my own here as well," Neubauer said when asked why she is running for the Milltown Borough Council. "There is so much that this community has given to me, so it’s only natural that I want to return the favor. I want to protect what is already here while also working towards making improvements in town. Milltown is a small town with a lot of love to give as evidenced by its strong volunteer presence and the way that the residents come together for those in need."
Neubauer has previously served on the Milltown Rescue Squad and sits on the Board of Health and Cable TV committees in town. A graduate of Middlesex County College, she is working on a degree in Business Administration at Rutgers University. Her goal is to pursue a career in human resource management. Currently, she works as a data analyst in the nursing education department at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
"The skills which I have developed working as a data analyst provide me with the ability to develop a plan for Milltown’s future," Neubauer said. "A large part of my job requires taking all the information about one particular subject or issue and mapping out a pathway to the best possible outcome. Problem solving, critical thinking and researching are all skills I need to use on a daily basis at work and provide a prefect foundation for helping to find innovative solutions to issues in town."
"My experience as a member of the rescue squad taught me the teamwork necessary for keeping my crew, my patient and myself safe during an emergency call," Neubauer continued. "While you were on a call it didn’t matter if you and your other crew members were friends or that you even had similar views. The only thing that mattered was maintaining communication and working together towards the common goal of getting your patient to the hospital in a safe manner. I think that there is a similar common goal in Milltown, namely to do what’s best for the residents. The only way to accomplish that is by working as a team no matter what differences you may have with other council members."
A 2009 graduate of Spotswood High School, there are many things Neubauer appreciates about the small town appeal of Milltown.
"I love the community here in town and how everyone really watches out for one another," Neubauer explained. "You constantly hear these stories in Milltown about its residents that really just speak volumes about their individual character. People shoveling each other out during a bad storm, people sharing power from a generator during a long outage and people posting pictures of lost dogs to reunite them with their families. This quality of really going above and beyond for other people makes Milltown residents special."
Neubauer enjoys the numerous community volunteers as well as having her extended family nearby. The trestle bridge is a favorite spot along with annual Milltown events like the July Fourth celebration. Milltown's close proximity to her job and its diverse downtown are pluses too.
Despite all of the perks, Neubauer feels there are important issues impacting the borough and its residents.
"I think that the most important issues currently are transparency and fiscal responsibility," she said. "Decisions about spending the resident’s money should occur in an open public forum after a thorough discussion about the merits and necessity of each expense. Many recent decisions seem to be made without research about the need for the project or its fiscal impact on residents. I believe that the town has a lot on its to do list. However, the order that issues are addressed should not be left to a handful of people, but instead should involve the community and be prioritized on how each impacts the quality of life for all residents in town."
If elected to the borough council on November 5, Neubauer has a plan for what she would like to accomplish.
"My first goal in town would be to make improvements in the way we communicate with and involve the residents," she said. "I know it is challenging for everyone to make meetings or even know when they are occurring. We need innovative solutions to address this problem. I believe that we could begin by exploring whether important meeting dates, for both council and other public agencies/committees, could be included on the utility bills sent by the borough to residents. Even something as simple as making department meetings open to the public once a quarter or using committees made of residents for big projects/decisions, would help guide the town in the right direction."
"These suggestions would not only help increase communication with the residents, but could also help save the town money," Neubauer continued. "We have so many intelligent and skilled people in this town who are an untapped resource. Our residents can assist with developing fiscally responsible plans and novel solutions to the borough’s problems. Including more residents will help guarantee that decisions are made after a thorough analysis and ensure that the town has exhausted all other options before increasing taxes to pay for a project."
"However, in order accomplish my goals, Milltown needs a change in its leadership to restore fiscal responsibility and transparency," Neubauer said. "I believe that my running mate, Phil Zambrana, our mayoral candidate, Trina Jensen-Mehr and I are all up for the task."
"No matter who you are rooting for, please make sure you come out and vote or send in your mail-in ballot," Neubauer added. "Local politics have the greatest direct impact on residents’ lives. Voting is one of the easiest ways for your voice to be heard in your community, so make your vote count!"
*In the upcoming weeks, Tapinto Milltown/Spotswood will continue with the Meet the Candidate series. Each candidate running for the Milltown Borough Council and the office of mayor was asked to participate in the Meet the Candidate series and was given the same questions to answer.