FANWOOD, NJ -- In advance of the Nov. 5 election, TAPintoSPF continues its "Five Questions With..." series this week with Fanwood's longest serving Council person Kathy Mitchell.
Name: Kathy Mitchell
Current Occupation: Retired Nurse
1. Why are you running for Town Council?
I'm completing my 18th year on the Council now and I feel like there's still work to do. I've watched Fanwood grow into this beautiful little gem with a bustling downtown, new businesses, jobs and a diverse population and I love it. I've served with some wonderful people on the Council, led for the past 16 years by Mayor Mahr whose leadership has made much of our progress possible. I really love Fanwood and I wouldn't want to miss any of what's ahead for us.
2. Tell us about your career and how your work and life experience will be beneficial in your role as a Councilperson (if elected).
I'm a retired RN. My last job was MDS coordinator at the former Runnells Specialized Hospital, responsible for assessing patients for Medicare and Medicare reimbursements. Let me tell you, once you become adept at navigating the Medicare system, you become an expert at our healthcare system as a whole and helping people figure out those benefits becomes second nature. Today, I am the Social Concerns coordinator at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Scotch Plains where we provide shelter and food for homeless people and distribute holiday gifts and meals to hundreds of local families who need a little help. I have been the Council's liaison to the Fanwood Senior Citizens Club and our new Senior Coordinator. All of this points to my concern for our citizens, young and old, and the safety nets we provide them as the caring neighbors we all should be as elected officials and fellow humans.
3. What are the issues that you think are most important in Fanwood?
We were able to offer our citizens a budget with a slightly reduced municipal tax rate this year, following last year's budget which also had no municipal tax increase. The Council really works hard at this each year when budget time comes around. All of us on the Council are taxpayers, too, so we are paying as much as everyone else. We continue to keep a close eye on the school tax which makes up 60% of our total property tax bill and will be seeking to open a dialogue with our new school superintendent about the school budget and its effect on the local tax levy. We are hearing a lot from our neighbors about their concerns regarding development in our downtown as they see more apartments appearing. I'm concerned, too. But so far, I haven't seen the small-town qualities of Fanwood diminished by the redevelopment that's gone on here the past 15 years. In fact it's been mostly good, contributing to increased property values and a sense that our town is desirable for young folks moving here to start families. What was a run-down, post-industrial strip with overgrown lots and dilapidated buildings has gotten a total facelift and new life thanks to a redevelopment plan that was well-thought out and executed with input from our businesses, community and civic leaders.
4. What should people know about you that they might not know already?
I have been appalled by the proliferation of gun violence in America the past several years. Gun violence has gone beyond a moral outrage -- it's now a public health issue. Even though I'm retired, they say once a nurse, always a nurse and as a nurse, the increasing number of deaths and injuries caused by guns is truly disturbing. I wonder how much longer we can wait and how many more people will die before Congress enacts meaningful, common sense gun control measures such as universal background checks and a ban on AR-15 style rifles?
5. What else would you like to say?
I served on various boards and commissions for 10 years before being elected to public office for 18 years. I believe in giving back. I love Fanwood. This is why I do what I do. It is not easy to put yourself in the public light and I congratulate all who have chosen to serve.
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