MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Committee will have two openings at the end of December. There are five candidates for the positions, and TAPinto Montville will be speaking with all five. We recently spoke with candidate Matthew Kayne.
1. Name one item you would reduce or cut in the township budget and explain why.
First, I think the Township Committee over the last decade has paid particular attention to how they utilize taxpayer funds and has eliminated wasteful spending, just as we did on the Board of Education. That said, there's always room to be more efficient, to leverage services with other towns and to find more instances for competitive bidding. So I think periodic reviews of certain large expense items like healthcare benefits is a good place to start. The Board of Education was able to find ways to save in this area and I'd like to see if we can replicate those savings within the Township health plans.
2. What do you believe is the most important issue in this local election? How would you change it?
There are always important issues facing the Township Committee such as power lines, oil pipelines, development pressure or fiscal concerns. Currently the potential for an oil pipeline that would traverse our sole source aquifer is probably the single most important issue our town faces because of the potential negative consequences. The fact that the Pilgrim Pipeline project would carry about 200,000 barrels a day through our area and potentially over or near the aquifer is a cause for immense concern. According to the federal government, pipeline incidents occur once a day, with 631 spills, leaks and explosions per year for the past 10 years in the U.S. alone. Were there to be a spill or explosion, the consequences would be devastating. I am aware the Township Committee has enacted an ordinance to enhance the protection of our drinking water and we must continue to vigorously defend it against this threat and others that may arise.
While we are aware in our town that the effort to halt large utility companies from proceeding through archaic 'right of ways' is nearly impossible to defend, I am proud to note I was a staunch supporter of the fight against the PSE&G power lines as a private citizen and BoE member. I would suggest that part of the reason our efforts stalled was that there were not enough vocal citizens to fight the issue. Through that experience, I have learned that successful opposition best comes in the form of an organized, synchronous, active, and large advocacy group comprised of a town's citizens. In order to bring out this voice, I would use social media and town hall meetings, in combination with traditional media coverage. Strong opposition to enact change is difficult but may be possible when a whole community rallies together.
3. Why do you feel you deserve the job? What qualifies you for it?
I am the only candidate on either side that has run a successful campaign in a contested public election, won re-election, held public office for three terms and was elected to leadership positions by my peers. In my almost 9 years on the Board of Education, the district has progressed in a positive direction during a time of extreme budgetary turmoil in NJ public education.
I have always acted professionally, respectfully and with integrity with my only agenda being to do what is best for Montville Township and our citizens, particularly the children. I am proud to be part of the board that has increased its transparency and professionalism.
As a public official I believe I have gone above and beyond the call of duty in my role and have proven that I will work tirelessly for taxpayers of Montville, Pine Brook and Towaco. I have served on all committees of the Board of Education, chaired the Communications Committee and served on the Finance and Facilities Committee for over five years, have overseen and had direct input in budgets, and have chaired the BoE labor negotiation teams twice - in 2012 with the teachers union (MTEA) and in 2015 with the combined group of teachers, secretaries, paraprofessionals and custodians. Both times the taxpayers concerns were first and foremost and when all was said and done the team upheld and even strengthened relationships.
I have had a hand in bringing solar energy to MTHS and Lazar at no cost, saving $350,000 to date and in utilizing the no cost Local Government Energy Audit which laid the foundation to replace lighting and other fixtures at a discount of up to 70%, saving energy and maintenance costs. I could mention more, but suffice it to say that I am the only candidate that has the breadth of leadership and experience to serve the citizens of Montville Township.
4. Do you feel that you're ready to handle the external issues facing the town such as the pipeline and the affordable housing litigation?
As per the prior question, having served for almost 9 years as an elected official I believe I am well prepared to handle any external issue. It is with extreme pride I was chosen by my Board of Education peers as Vice President for 5 years and President for 2016 and 2017. As a longstanding board member I have been time tested by issues such as coping with the loss of all of our state aid in 2010, millions of dollars more over the ensuing years, developing a new search process for superintendent recruitment, identifying best practices for retaining superintendents, monitoring budgets, confronting environmental incursions like the PSE&G and JCP&L power lines, dealing with unexpected personnel issues and, of course, handling Mother Nature's storms. Being in a leadership position, you never know what issue will come up next but you have be on your toes, ready to respond, at all times by drawing on all of your experience.
5. What do you bring to the dais that's different?
I bring strong listening and communicative skills, years of public experience, and a pragmatic approach to all decisions. Having been selected for leadership positions by my peers for 7 of my 9 years on the BoE, I believe, makes a statement for the respect my peers have for my integrity, professionalism and leadership, Combined with over 30 years as a small business owner, I believe I possess a set of unique qualities that surpasses the qualifications of any other candidate in this election.