I don’t know if everyone in Piscataway has been following the race for Mayor and Council seats in the upcoming Democratic primary. For sure, we’ve all had a lot on our plates these past three months. But one thing that’s stood out to me is the need for TERM LIMITS.
Mayor Wahler has been mayor for 20 years, and now wants another 4-year term. Wahler and his friends Bob Smith and Ted Light—all career politicians—have controlled Piscataway government for 46 of the last 50 years! Town Council candidates Shah, Cahill, and Scott-McCallum are all incumbents with longtime connections to the County party machine.
The result is a town government that’s closed, complacent and unresponsive. They won’t broadcast their meetings or debate any decisions. They never ask residents for their input to help set priorities. Maybe that’s why it took over 20 years to get the Community Center built. Or why we still don’t have a farmers’ market, multi-cultural celebrations, an ecology park, or even a dog park. We do have several new massive truck depots right next to our neighborhoods and schools, some stealth municipal tax increases, and unabated building on our few remaining open spaces.
Term limits make sense. No one should hold public office as a lifetime job. It leads to patronage, insider deals, and disregard for the public. In a moment of crisis, like we’re experiencing during this pandemic, town government isn’t stepping up as a friend and neighbor should. We could use a help desk for navigating medical and financial problems, and neighborhood assistance teams. We’re supposed to have a Health Advisory Commission, who’s heard from them?
New Jersey’s political machines are allergic to term limits, but we the voters can get the ball rolling. First, let’s elect a new set of leaders who are listening to us and who pledge to pass a term limit policy for Piscataway.
I’m backing the challenger slate, the Dems on Your Side, because they make that pledge. I’ve been watching their weekly Facebook programs at http://www.pway2020.com/ and discovered there is so much more town government could, and should, do. Thank you Bill Irwin, Kamuela Tillman, Ralph Johnson and Laura Liebowitz for practicing what you preach. We really need to open the doors and let some fresh air into our stale town hall!