Name: Brian Walter
Current Occupation: Executive Chef/ Culinary Director at Bayberry Culinary Consultants
Education: French Culinary Institute, SPF High School, Terrill Middle School, Coles Elementary School
Years Lived in Fanwood: Over 10 Years in Fanwood, 25 Years in Scotch Plains
Why are you running for Fanwood Council?
As a lifelong resident of Scotch Plains and Fanwood, I never wanted any other place to raise my family. I have owned businesses in Fanwood and have been very involved in supporting local youth and community organizations. I want to contribute to the future direction of the town and to make sure that young families and seniors can live in the same beautiful small town we fell in love with by lowering our taxes, increasing our property values and keeping urban development out.
What do you believe is the most important issues in Fanwood right now?
The consistent increase in property taxes and the potential of much larger increases, due to exceptions to the 2% cap. Our tax bills, among the highest in the country, are a serious challenge for our seniors and young families to meet. Also high density housing has not brought in significant tax revenue to reduce homeowners’ property taxes, but has brought in more traffic and congestion.
How would you address these issues?
As a member of the Borough Council I will work on the budget to keep municipal tax increases at or under the 2% cap. Any increases in our pension obligations, which we should anticipate, should be offset by reductions in operating expenses. I would also oppose any plan for a new sewer tax, like they did in Scotch Plains. For any potential new housing development in town, we need to assess the full tax basis, the same as homeowners pay now. There should be no tax abatements or incentives that make it easier for wealthy developers to build high density housing.
Tell us about your background. How would your professional experiences translate into being an effective Councilman?
As a chef and a caterer I understand that you have to create a service that customers appreciate and return for more. As a business owner in town, President of the Fanwood Business Association, and an organizer of community fund raising events, I have met hundreds of residents and understand why they enjoy living in Fanwood, as my family and I do. We need to maintain and improve our youth and community activities to make Fanwood an enjoyable place to live in and attract young homebuyers. That has been the formula for success so far, and we need to mitigate the negative factors of high taxes and congestion.
What should people know about you that they might not know already?
After graduating from Scotch Plains Fanwood High School I lived at the French Embassy in NYC where I trained under Master Chef Luc Pasquer as his apprentice. He taught me the mental and physical disciplines it takes to become a true Chef. This opened the door for me to train the next 10 years at NYC’s best restaurants including Le Cirque 2000, Lespinasse, and the Union Club. I was given the title Chef De Cuisine at the Union Club when I was 23 yrs old making me the youngest Executive Sous Chef at a Private Club in NYC. In 2009 I started my catering and consulting company Bayberry Culinary Consultants, named after the street I grew up on Bayberry Lane. Catering for the local families in this area and being able to give back to the community with my food is my true passion.
What else would you like to say?
If I am elected as councilman I will give my fellow Fanwoodians a voice that is not manipulated by One Party’s agenda. Fanwood is going through many changes and they are happening fast.
I would like my neighbors to ask themselves the following questions. Why are there rodents all over the streets down town? Why are our taxes going up while big developers enjoy tax abatements? Why is our recycling done by Plainfield and can Plainfield raise the price any time they feel like and hold us hostage with no back up recycling program in place? Is A&P going to be 200 high density units and if so how will that affect your property value? Why is Fanwood responsible for the DPW in Scotch Plains and how does it affect our taxes? Why would Anthony “Coach” Carter recommend a tax increase when he himself rents and will not be affected by it? There is a clear theme running through all these questions and that is why we need an independent voice to keep a watchful eye on a one-party council.