LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Six candidates are running for the three open seats on the Little Falls Township Council. TAPinto Passaic Valley asked each of the candidates for their goals and qualifications.

Louis DeLucca

I’ve been a Little Falls resident since 2007. The reason I decided to run for office is twofold. With my 24-year background in law enforcement, administration and volunteer work, I believe that I have a lot to contribute in the decision making process of Little Falls government. But most of all, I am seeking a town council seat because of my love for our community.

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There are many issues facing Little Falls, but if everyone works together, solutions can be realized. I am running on the Republican ROW-A team with Michael Murphy and Eva Salierno-Visperas. We collectively came up with solutions to some of these issues by asking our residents for their input as we go door to door and through our current survey that we have distributed which can be taken on the internet at www.LittleFallsSurvey.com.

● The property tax issue is foremost in most people’s minds. Innovative ideas we have come up with to help stabilize property taxes include; providing homeowners with a five year tax exemption/abatement moratorium on improvements they make to their property. Sharing services and costs with other communities and our school districts is another cost saving measure that we will pursue. 

● Over development is another issue that many residents are concerned with. We propose a Smart Development plan to ensure that all proposed development will be done responsibly, making certain that neighborhood character is respected and comprehensive impact studies are performed to determine the potential drain on town services and impact on flooding and environmental concerns.

●As we go door to door, we meet many senior citizens whose situation is such that they no longer need or can afford owning a home. To address this issue, when elected, our team will work to create senior citizen housing for residents.

●Many residents have told us that they are experiencing quality of life issues that go unresolved or are not addressed quickly. If elected, our team will enhance the quality of life for our residents by creating a task force that will address problems such as; speeding vehicles and aggressive driving, dog walkers who fail to pick up after their dogs, pot holes, property maintenance issues, noise and air pollution, group housing concerns and deer management. In addition, we will create a custom smart-phone app, web program and telephone hotline to allow residents to easily report quality of life issues that we ensure will be followed up on in a timely manner.

●Regarding the Police Department, we will seek out grants to equip our police department with state of the art technology to make them more efficient and proactive in performing their duties. And with respect to traffic safety, I would like to study the feasibility of installing 4 way stop signs at certain intersections.

I ask all residents to support our team. Our website is www.LittleFallsRepublicans.com and our Facebook page is facebook.com/LittleFallsRepublicans2018. We can also be reached via email at LittleFallsRepublicans@gmail.com.

 

Al Kahwaty

My name is Al Kahwaty and I am running for Little Falls Township Council. I have lived in Little Falls for nine years, with my wife Anne, and our son Michael. I graduated from Passaic Valley High School and Rutgers University with a degree in theater arts and business administration.  

I spent most of my career as a broadcast journalist at shows such as "60 Minutes" and "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." I reported on everything from celebrity profiles to important issues such as homelessness, steroid use, medical regulations, and predators who target children. I learned how a few people could have an enormous impact, when one story I worked on resulted in a family receiving funding to care for their paralyzed brother.  

Today, I own a small business, Kahwaty Media, but my desire to positively impact my community remains. With that in mind, I joined, and am now chairman of the Passaic County Film Commission, where I guide students in their desire to become filmmakers. I like to encourage them towards careers such as mine, where they might change the world for the better. And as chairman, I conceived of, and help raise funding for, an annual grant of equipment to school broadcasting programs.

In Little Falls, I have coached several soccer and baseball teams, and I am serving on the Little Falls Planning Board. Earlier this year with my wife, we enlisted the Little Falls School District to help us raise over $11,000 for charity.

I have witnessed a recent turnaround in Little Falls in the approach that the local government has taken. The public has a voice and the ear of elected officials to an extent not seen before. I’ve watched the town become a better place to live with more programs and events for residents. As I became more involved, I learned that these improvements came while the Mayor and Council were making the town more financially secure, by eliminating debt and growing our emergency reserves. And the Damiano Team has done this in only two short years!  

But, there are still issues to be addressed. Speeding and littering are complaints that we heard as we went door-to-door this year. More action is needed there. Our township is susceptible to flooding, and while important steps have been taken, new avenues may need to be explored. And of course, we need to always look for ways to keep taxes in check in the future.

So, when asked why I would want to be involved in local government, my answer is simple: there are good people here trying to do good work, and I want to bring my energy and ideas to that group so that we can further accomplish the goal that we all seek - making Little Falls a better place to live. I hope that you will vote to give me and my Damiano Team running mates, Tanya Seber and Chris Vancheri, the opportunity to do so.  

 

Michael Murphy

Little Falls has always been a place I am glad to call home. Being born and raised in town, I have experienced first-hand all that Little Falls has to offer. I attended all our public schools as well as Passaic Valley High School and William Paterson University. Throughout my entire life, I have been very active in our community. I have been a volunteer member of the Little Falls Fire Department for the past eight years, serving as chairman on many of its committees. Currently, I am an elected member of the Little Falls Board of Education, serving on the policy, finance, and health and safety committees. I am also an elected member of the Little Falls Republican County Committee since 2015. 

Currently, we have a lot of issues plaguing the town. From the always present threat of flooding to the growing concerns of taxes, overdevelopment, quality of life issues, Montclair State University not paying their fair share, and the much-needed revamping of the recreational facilities for youth programs and residents.

I am running on a team that includes Eva Salierno-Visperas and Louis DeLucca. We as a team came up with a platform to move Little Falls forward. We created our platform after speaking with hundreds of Little Falls residents during our door to door campaigning. We also have an online survey that residents can take here

Our vision for a better Little Falls includes a key issue to every resident, stabilizing taxes. If elected, our team will work to cut expenditures by developing opportunities for sharing services with other towns and our school districts. We will also explore the feasibility of sharing employee health care costs with other communities. This initiative alone has the potential to save our community a significant amount of money. We will also seek out all federal, state and county grants to lessen the burden on our taxpayers. 

We will pursue compelling Montclair State University to make a substantial contribution to our community in view of the fact that 85% of the University is in Little Falls. It is unreasonable that our taxpayers must pay for a majority of the services that MSU uses.

The creation of the Little Falls Business/Residents Alliance which will promote pro-business policies and incentives while at the same time benefiting residents. This effort will support upgrades to businesses in town and stimulate a vibrant local economy that will have the added benefit of creating local jobs. Included in this initiative is the creation of the Shop & Save in Little Falls program whereby homeowners get property tax reductions and renters get rebates for shopping at Little Falls businesses. This will be an incentive for residents to spend their money in town. It’s a win/win for everyone.

 

Tanya Seber

My name is Tanya Seber and I am running for re-election to the Township Council in Little Falls. I have been a resident of Little Falls for 28 years - growing up on Walnut Street with my father, a Vietnam veteran, and my stepmother, to then buying a condo in The Mill and then starting a family.

I now reside in the Singac section of town with my husband Mark and two daughters, Emma, 14, and Amy, 12. 

Currently, I am the Senior Director of Grocery with Whole Foods Market (Amazon), where I manage a team which oversees 43 stores. I am responsible for a multi-million-dollar budget and have designed and opened 21 stores. It’s a challenging and rewarding role that has really given me the experience to handle large complex budgets and personnel management. 

I am proud to be a part of Little Falls Town Council during this time of transformation. Little Falls is now a township of choice for many new residents after years of stagnation. I have approved smart developments throughout the township to offset the lost revenue of the flood buyout program. New housing and businesses are popping up and more are planned to help transform areas that are in need of revitalization while preserving what makes our community special. More can be done to continue this progress and I will continue to help identify areas where we can expand without becoming overdeveloped while preserving the small-town feel.

We have begun to update our parks and maintenance equipment from years of neglect, but a lot more is still needed. We added new lights and accessibility for Wilmore Park, new lights and ball field upgrade for the Recreation Center, all aimed at improving and expanding usage for our residents. We’re facilitating a purchase of equipment to help clear and maintain the Peckman River, that will contribute to eliminating obstructions that have caused flooding issues. I also supported a new police car purchase program for a smarter, more fiscally sound management of our fleet to reduce the need for large scale purchases in the future.  

Increasing our bond rating with financial planning and budgeting while not on the forefront of some residents, is crucial to saving taxpayer dollars. As our tax base grows, so will our reserves and allow us to keep property taxes down for all residents. This is a process that requires disciplined budgeting, oversite and stewardship. I look forward to continuing to play a role.  

Our government is working again after many years of deadlock and misguided priorities. The biggest issue facing the township is going back to a dysfunctional government. Dysfunctional government resulted in years of neglect, stalemates and kicking the issues down the road. Myself, with the mayor and council, have begun to move forward again with addressing matters that concern residents. It’s an uphill climb to tackle all the issues left for us but we will solve them all only with a steady governing body that listens to the residents.

 

Chris Vancheri

I have been a resident of Little Falls for 14 years with my wife Sonia and my children, Isabel and Evan. I am currently employed as vice president at CoynePR in Parsippany and serve as a member of the council (since 2017). 

In January 2017, I was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Mayor James Damiano and then elected to serve the remainder of the term in November 2017. I am seeking a four-year term. 

Serving the community is a passion point for me. I was always taught, if you want to make a difference, step up and get involved. 

The past two years have allowed me to help make a difference to ensure our residents are getting what is needed. From stabilizing taxes, cutting wasteful spending, improving our roads, offering affordable senior housing, investing in infrastructure, making our roads safer, and being more transparent have been our priorities. 

The Mayor and Council have addressed a number of these concerns head-on. However, there is more to be done and I would like to have the opportunity to continue the progress along with my running mates, fellow member Councilwoman Tanya Seber, and council candidate Albert Kahwaty.

I’m proud of the work that I’ve done as I have worked with our Technology Committee to create a new township website that is easier for our residents to navigate. With the Transportation Committee, I worked closely with our Police Department and County Engineer to submit an application for a traffic light at the intersections of Wilmore Road, Francisco Road and Cedar Grove Road based on resident concerns. 

I’m also proud of the fact that when residents get together and voice their concerns, as a councilman it is my job to look into this. I work for the residents and I’m proud of the progress we have made. 

If re-elected, my three primary goals are addressing flooding in town along the Peckman and Passaic Rivers; our roads; from repaving our streets and adding speed humps along high traffic areas; and improving our facilities and programs for our youth and seniors. 

A year ago, the residents of Little Falls voted to allow me the opportunity to continue to serve as a member of the Township Council.  On November 6, I am asking the residents for their vote once again to allow me the opportunity to continue the progress on your behalf in Little Falls.

I served as the vice president of the Little Falls Athletic Club (LFAC) for the past two years, one year as the recording secretary, and currently serve as the LFAC soccer commissioner and coach, a member of the Little Falls Alliance for a Better Community (LFABC), member of the Public Relations Society of America (National and New Jersey Chapter), class parent, chairman of the Little Falls Transportation Committee and member of the three town (Little Falls, Woodland Park and Little Falls) flood board created this year to address concerns along the Passaic and Peckman Rivers.

 

Eva Salierno Visperas

After being a Little Falls resident for approximately 10 years, I have decided to run for town council. My husband Rico and I moved to town after getting married nine years ago. Although I was raised in Clifton, I have many fond memories of Little Falls as my parents were small business owners in town. My father, John Salierno, was an Italian/Spanish teacher at Passaic Valley High School. As a mother of two young boys, Jack, 5, and Dean, almost 2, I want them to grow up in a community they are proud to call home and is the main reason I decided to run for town council.

As a graduate of Montclair State University, I want to be a liaison, making sure that the children, adults, and seniors of Little Falls benefit from having the second largest university in NJ right in our backyard. Addressing quality of life concerns is equally as important since they impact our daily lives. Several examples include seeing your newly paved road get torn up, oversized reckless tractor trailers and car carriers driving through residential neighborhoods, aggressive driving, speeding, and a lack of property maintenance. Finally, intelligent planning is essential with our proposed new development. New projects should not place a burden on our schools, our roads, and not take a toll on the infamous Peckman River. Although I generally view new development as a positive, our residents need to be assured that their home, for many, one’s biggest investment, and the character of the town will be protected.

After being an elementary physical education teacher for almost eight years, my husband and I made the decision that I would be a stay-at-home mom so we can raise our children ourselves and instill the values and character we believe they should have. I attended New Jersey Institute of Technology on a tennis scholarship and earned a Bachelor of Science in Science, Technology and Society. I finished my training with a Masters of Teaching from Montclair State University. Most recently, I devote my time to my floral business, About-Designs, that my sister and I own and operate. In addition, I am a volunteer coach through the Little Falls Athletic Club coaching t-ball, tennis and soccer.

Little Falls has promise and opportunities but it has not quite reached its full potential. Several positive changes have recently been made however, I want to make sure this continues to see the town thrive.