Name: Brian Walter (R)
Current Occupation: Executive Chef, Shackamaxon Country Club
Education: French Culinary Institute, SPF High School, Terrill Middle School, Coles Elementary School
Years Lived in Fanwood: Over 13 Years in Fanwood
Why are you running for Fanwood Council on the Republican ticket?
As a lifelong and third generation resident of Fanwood-Scotch Plains, 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.
Fanwood needs a voice on the Council that has no personal political aspirations, a voice that is not scripted by the Mayor, a voice that has skin in the game, and a voice that only has the Fanwood residents on his agenda. I am that voice, and I am ready to hit the ground running.
What do you believe is the most important issues in Fanwood right now?
We are becoming overdeveloped, and the homeowners are paying the price. They redeveloped the whole down town and hundreds of new renters moved in. So why are OUR TAXES SO HIGH? High density housing has not brought in significant tax revenue to reduce homeowners property taxes but has only brought more traffic and congestion.
I speak with Fanwoodians every day that tell me they sadly have to move out of town because the taxes are just too high. The consistent increase in property taxes and the potential of much larger increases, due to exceptions to the 2% is why Fanwood homeowners are so upset and demand a new voice sit on council. Our tax bills, among the highest in the country, are a serious challenge for our seniors and young families to meet. The sewer “bill” is just another insult to injury as Fanwood prepares its sewers for even more high-density housing on OUR DIME.
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. 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. When the developers pay what WE pay our taxes will be reduced. Fanwood residents should be the first thing on the Council’s mind at all times. Fanwood is a small town, and we like it that way.
Tell us about your background. How would your professional experiences translate into being an effective Councilman?
As Executive Chef at Shackamaxon I’ve been able to continue my passion to cook for my local community. I speak with Fanwood residents every day and cook for all the local charities including the Boys and Girl Scouts, YMCA, JCC, FSP Rotary, etc. These relationships have given me the opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse of our town. I heard your concerns, and they are mostly the same as mine, I will fight for you as councilman and I will be available as always to listen and hear what you have to say.
As a business owner in town, President of the Fanwood Business Association, and an organizer of community fundraising 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?
First off I have a running mate this year Jay Morris. Morris is a graduate of Rutgers University and went through the SPF School system. Morris and his family are lifelong Fanwoodians and local volunteers.
Some fun things happened this year. I had the rare opportunity to be Culinary Instructor for the McGinn After School Enrichment Program this Year! “Yummy 101” was a blast! We made fresh mozzarella, discovered our individual perfect ph balance for lemonade, and worked as a team to put ,out a mock Super Bowl Catering gig.
Boy Scout Troop 227 and I accepted an awesome pinewood derby track from our Scout friends in South Plainfield. We do have a track already but so we are looking for new ways to use this beautiful track for fundraising or donate it to a local Scout group in need of one. If anyone has a fun idea please message me on Facebook.
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 like it is now. I’m making this a positive campaign as I have the past two years. I don’t call my opponents or other individuals out personally because that is not my style. This is why Fanwood homeowners and residents want me to sit on council and tell me every day to keep running and keep up the good fight. Fanwood residents know I will give them the straight answers the Truth with no agendas behind it.
My opponents this year refused requests to public debate. These would have been a few questions I wanted to bring up.
Why are the results of our property reassessments coming out a couple weeks after the election just like the sewer “bill” did last year?
Why are letters being sent to Fanwood residents informing them their “Property in Fanwood has been listed to be sold at Tax Sale” because they had not paid their sewer “bill”? Sounds more like a tax than a “bill”. Does PSEG put our homes up for Tax Sale when a $65 utility bill is past due?
Were our senior citizens given extra notice in case they missed this “bill” in the mail as it looks like every other letter we get from the town? Can we set up a volunteer group to make sure we hand deliver these notices to our senior citizens so that they do not have their homes sold at Tax Sale for $65? This is a new bill and may not be on everyone’s monthly bill radar yet.
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