SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Mayor Al Smith, a Republican who is seeking his second term this November, celebrated his 76th birthday on Jan. 29, with a birthday party/fundraiser that attracted a bipartisan crowd.

During his brief remarks, the mayor trumpeted his efforts with the Mayor's Wellness Program, and the movement that has taken place in downtown redevelopment.

"We are about to see a plan to change Scotch Plains for the better," Mayor Smith told the crowd. "Cranford... has a downtown. It's about to happen (here in Scotch Plains). We had a (court) settlement on affordable housing figures that is not appropriate for this town, but we are making lemonade out of lemons."

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Mayor Smith said as part of the affordable housing mandate, he hopes to prioritize veterans, seniors, and people special needs along with families that need affordable housing.

"We get a lot of people who come to love here, but they're not bringing children," Mayor Smith said. "We will continue to work for the people and get Scotch Plains to continue moving in the right way."

Supporter Caroline Perkins spoke after the mayor.

"I've never seen a mayor like this -- he doesn't take a salary, he's non-partisan, and he's concerned about the town," said Mrs. Perkins, a longtime Scotch Plains resident.

Among the other attendees was Rick Mehta, who said he is "running for us senator working to get Cory Booker out of office" and had local ties to Scotch Plains because his wife grew up in the township.

"It's increasingly difficult to live here (in New Jersey). People are moving out, and it hurts," Mehta said. "We need conservative family values. I put myself through law school and took illegal opioids off the market."

"When you see showboating in Washington, it's unacceptable. I want to make a difference," added Mehta, who wants to lower the price of prescription drugs and fix the healthcare system. "I saw what went on with Affordable Care Act; I spoke with a woman who got a $26,000 throat swab. It's unacceptable."

Other notable attendees included Councilman Ted Spera and his dad, Gabe Spera, a former mayor of Scotch Plains, and another former mayor, Bill McClintock.

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