Colleen Mahr

  • Proud Mayor of the Borough of Fanwood, Director of Business Development for DMR Architects - the 4th largest architectural firm in NJ 
  • Grew up in Scotch Plains, attended public grammar school, graduated Union Catholic High School and Rosemont College, PA
  • My Family: my three sons Liam (16), Daniel (15) and Colin (13), my wonderful sister Maureen and my rock, my mother Nancy, who help me make sure my family is taken care of as I serve our community 
  • Fanwood residents for 17 years

Why am I running for reelection as the Mayor

Now more than ever, Fanwood needs strong leaders who have ideas and the skills necessary to serve you. I am running for reelection because I want to continue the progress that has been made, I want to support the backbone of our government which relies on volunteers through Fanwood’s boards and commissions and I want to advance several unfinished projects that are important to me. These include the major streetscape project along South Avenue from the train station to Terrill Road and the continued fight for equitable service for our commuters who use the Raritan Valley Line. I am also excited about my new Mayor’s wellness program that is focusing on our health and mental well-being through a variety of free events. 

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Our Councilmembers have exciting initiatives happening, too. Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell is leading the roll out of new and enhanced services to our senior community so that we can help them thrive in our community.

Tell us about your career and how your work and life experience will be beneficial in your role as Mayor

I truly believe in public service. My career before joining DMR Architects ranged from being the Assistant Director of Housing and Economic Development in Jersey City, to helping local municipalities create a path and vision to revitalize their downtowns. I believe that government has a place in our lives and if harnessed correctly, it can do great things. What I know after 30 years of service is the men and women who chose careers serving our towns are hardworking, dedicated professionals who understand they are the stewards of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. 

What are the issues that you think are most important in Fanwood?
One of the cornerstone projects of which I’m proudest has been the revitalization of our downtown. When I moved to Fanwood, the downtown had a few scattered stores and was blighted by vacant former industrial sites. Over the past decade through hard work by both Republican and Democratic council members it has become a vibrant downtown. 

Our process of involving the community in the development of the downtown has received statewide accolades and developments within downtown are award-winning, too. There had been no investment in Fanwood in over 40 years when the downtown revitalization began. Now more than $30 million dollars has been invested and the Borough has benefited by new residents and substantial tax revenue. For example, in Fanwood Crossing alone taxes increased from $72,000 to $242,115 annually. This added revenue supports many services for the whole community in addition to the more than 30 new permanent jobs created in the new retail spaces downtown.

Critics will say that there’s too much development and too many new housing units downtown, but with today’s changing retail culture in our downtowns, the foot traffic of folks living and working downtown is critical to merchant/retail success. That is why the Smart Growth principles of multi-family densities in downtown areas are considered best practices in state and local planning. This is not overdevelopment. It is essential, thoughtful planning and hard work to keep Fanwood an attractive family friendly town with stores, restaurants and community events.

Property taxes continue to be a statewide problem here in New Jersey. Paying for our schools, which are among the highest rated in New Jersey, and services from Union County make up 80% of the tax bill. The Mayor and Council have no control over these budgets or costs. We have done everything we can to keep the 20% of the tax levy that we oversee under control. And I’m proud to say that for the last two years we have passed a budget that did not include a municipal tax increase.

We have shared service agreements with Garwood, Westfield, Union County, and Plainfield to minimize costs. We do all we can to maintain our core services to keep the quality of life that our residents have come to rightfully expect. And my door is always open to have a dialogue with our residents.

What else would you like to say?
It has been my privilege to serve Fanwood as your Mayor and work to make it a desirable destination for folks looking to visit and to live. I’ve been fortunate to have a dedicated Borough Council who all work toward the same goal, improving Fanwood for our residents and the future. With a salary of $1 a year, we are not here for personal enrichment, we are here because we share a commitment to public service and improving our community.

I embrace and look forward to the next four years and where we will go, together. I ask for your support for council candidates Jeff Banks, Kathy Mitchell and Francine Glaser. They are ready to serve Fanwood and bring the skills and commitment that this job demands and work alongside me to keep moving Fanwood forward.

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