PARAMUS, NJ -- Election Day is just under two weeks away and Paramus residents are seeing the candidates for Mayor and Council in their mailboxes, at their doors, in their Facebook feeds and everywhere else. The race for Mayor pits Democratic incumbent Rich LaBarbiera against Republican Councilwoman Jeanne Weber, while Democratic Council members Pat Verile and Holly Tedesco-Santos are facing off against Republicans Mohammed Reda and Jorge Quintana.
So far in the campaign, Mayor LaBarbiera’s “Paramus First” has struck a positive tone and emphasized their record on taxes, quality of life and services. The Mayor has touted a 12% reduction in municipal property taxes during his tenure, while the state’s average tax bill has grown by 15%. LaBarbiera cites able management and innovative programs like shared services agreements with keeping the tax burden low.
“During my two terms as Mayor we have not raised taxes a single time, and in fact we have lowered them 12% since I was elected while investing in our services and facilities,” said Mayor LaBarbiera, who was elected in 2010 and is a lifelong resident. “That’s the kind of leadership Paramus residents deserve and our team is completely dedicated to providing it.”
The opposition "We Are Paramus" Weber team, on the other hand, has attacked the incumbents over what they characterize as overdevelopment. In a recent Facebook ad, Weber’s team wrote: “Did you know mayor and his business partner, our Borough Attorney, have rezoned the borough? This rezoning will make it possible for their developer friends to build apartments (like the one on Midland Ave) in Paramus.”
The ad showed a sizable residential development and inferred that the LaBarbiera Team’s actions would allow that kind of building in residential neighborhoods. Not so, says the Mayor.
“The Master Plan that the Planning Board created with community feedback and that was approved by the Borough Council expressly prohibits any multi-family residential building in our existing neighborhoods,” said Mayor LaBarbiera. “It’s unfortunate that Councilwoman Weber finds the need to mislead residents about this plan and is trying to scare them, but the truth is that the Master Plan protects residential neighborhoods by restricting new development to commercial corridors on Route 17 and 4.”
Weber’s campaign has also made dubious claims about “rejecting sanctuary city status,” even though the incumbent team does not support the policy and has never publicly backed it.
“This election isn’t about national politics or political parties, it’s about who the right team is to move Paramus forward,” said Mayor LaBarbiera. “It’s clear that our opponents lack a real record or solutions to run on, so they’re resorting to falsehoods and unfair attacks. We’re running a clean, positive campaign because we know that’s what Paramus deserves.”
A request for comment made yesterday has not been returned by the Weber team.