Saying that keeping the public safe is his most important duty, Mayor Matt Anesh said this week that public safety will continue to be his most important responsibility when serving a second term.

 “We’ve had some tough things to deal with,” said Anesh when looking back over his first term.  “We had the fire on Clinton Avenue shortly after I took over, and we had two major storms, Hurricane Irene and Super Storm Sandy.  And who can forget the blizzards this past winter.”

 Anesh said he wants to keep investing in the things that kept South Plainfield safe during these disasters.  “Our police, rescue, emergency, and fire crews deserve a lot of credit.  They’ve had a lot thrown at them.  I can’t remember ever being hit back to back like this.  Our investments in people and equipment made a difference.”

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 Council President Alex Barletta agreed.  Barletta also credited the public works department with helping the town get through these disasters. “Our DPW head, Bobby Capparelli, practically lived in his office this past winter,” Barletta said.  “His crew had one of the best responses in the state.”

 Anesh said controlling crime is also vital.  “Crime was down last year, and with some of the things we are putting in place, I see that trend continuing,” the mayor said. 

According to state crime figures, South Plainfield saw a 9.7% drop in crime in 2013.

Councilman Derryck White credited the crime reduction to top-notch police work.  “We have one of the best police forces around,” he said. 

 Anesh pointed to two accomplishments he thinks will make South Plainfield even safer going forward.  The first is closing Liquid Assets.  The infamous go-go bar closed in April after the council twice voted to shut it down. 

 “There were a lot of problems there,” said White.  “Closing it has had a huge effect on quality of life in that area.”

 “You can’t turn a blind eye toward that type of stuff,” Anesh added.  “That’s why we put a zero-tolerance policy in place.”

 Anesh said the new K-9 Unit and recent investments in police technology will also make a difference. 

All three candidates said keeping the public safe is their most important duty.  “We’ve been saying we want to keep South Plainfield safe, affordable and growing,” said Anesh.  “Safety is first on the list, because keeping the public safe is paramount.”