SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Borough voters will be deciding on a new mayor and two open seats on the Spotswood Borough Council on Election Day. Incumbent Councilman Jose Rivera, Edward Lesko, Marylin Israel and Diane Charlesworth are all candidates on the November 3 ballot. Charlesworth has been a resident of the borough since 1995. She and her husband reside in the house he grew up in. The home dates back to 1947 and was built by her husband, John Ryan's family. Leftover lumber from an old naval base was used to craft the home following the end of World War II. While Charlesworth has never held a public office, she decided to become involved in local politics after frequently attending the meetings of the Spotswood Borough Council.
"I've been a regular attendee of the borough council meetings for about two years and I decided to run because I knew I could add a different perspective to the council," Charlesworth said. "There are times when a lighter approach can work more effectively and I think that's currently lacking."
"The other thing I noticed was the lack of information that the residents have regarding the activities of the council," Charlesworth continued. "For that reason, about a year ago, I started writing a summary after each meeting and posting it on the various Spotswood Facebook pages under the heading of Just the Facts from Tonight's Council Meeting. It seemed the residents didn't take the time to search out the minutes that were posted of each meeting, but when the info was put in a place that they visited normally anyway, they had a very positive reaction to it."
Charlesworth, grew up in Buffalo and is very familiar with all the jokes surrounding the NFL's Bills. She finds the two places very different mostly because of the small town qualities of the borough. Charlesworth retired from her career in sales in the eyeglass industry in 2014. She worked as a sales representative for various eyeglass lens manufacturers for more than 30 years.
"I learned how to relate to people and speak to them in a way that they understand," Charlesworth said of her career. "But the most important thing I learned how to do was listen to people. Early in my career, I had a manager who used to say we have two ears, but only one mouth for a reason; we should listen twice as much as we speak. Additionally, after so many years in sales, I'm experienced in working with others to achieve common goals."
Charlesworth feels these important professional lessons will be advantageous if elected to the borough council. Four years ago, the longtime resident and community volunteer began the Stich in Time group.
"In 2015, I created a knit/crochet group called Stitch in Time," Charlesworth explained. "We currently meet at the Senior Center where I am a proud volunteer. We started out at the library with about seven to eight women who would meet weekly. Our numbers grew to be about 20 members and the library could no longer accommodate us. We landed at the Senior Center in 2017 and it's been a perfect fit for us."
Charlesworth and the group use their talent to help people in need.
"In addition to making sleeping mats for homeless vets," Charlesworth continued. "We are actively involved with the Alice's CUP food pantry in town by donating hats and scarves to be donated to those less fortunate than we are. We have two members who are nurses in the mother and child department at St. Peter's University Hospital. Through those members, we've created a relationship and donated handmade baby blankets two to three times a year. On top of all this charity work, we make our own projects as well."
The small town warmth of the borough came out strong to help Charlesworth and the Stitch in Time group with their mat making endeavor for homeless veterans. The mats are fashioned from plastic shopping bags.
"The people in our town supported us in a huge way by donating their plastic shopping bags to us," Charlesworth added. "The helpful owners of Brian's Lawn Mower shop volunteered to be a drop off point for the bags which helped us with the storage issue. It was very heartwarming to have that kind of support from strangers. We never would have been so successful without their help."
Charlesworth feels the borough has some important issues to tackle.
"We need more fiscal responsibility and accountability," Charlesworth said when asked what the important issues facing Spotswood. "We need to attract more small businesses to our town and stop creating so much paperwork and red tape for new businesses to open. That will certainly help ease the tax burden on the residents. I believe the employees in Borough Hall need more positive direction and supervisors who can motivate employees to do their best work."
"When I'm elected I hope to work closely with my fellow council people and the new mayor to do things that will improve the quality of life for our residents," Charlesworth added. "To me, that means attending to the small issues as well as the bigger challenges. Helping residents with individual issues will be as important as steering the borough in a direction that will benefit all, especially during the time of the pandemic. In closing, I look forward to serving the residents of Spotswood by using the skills and talents I've learned over the course of my life."