This week's column is an interview with Mayor Matt Anesh:

Q:        You’re just about to complete your first term as mayor.  Any regrets?

Anesh: No, not one.  We’ve had some huge challenges, with Super Storm Sandy being the biggest.  I was proud of our town’s volunteers and employees.  They did an amazing job and got us up and running before most towns.  Last year’s blizzards and Hurricane Irene tested us too, but I think we showed that South Plainfield comes together in tough times.           

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Q: What do you think are the most pressing issues for South Plainfield?

Anesh: There are three.  We need to keep South Plainfield safe, affordable, and growing.  We’re heading in the right direction.  Last year crime went down almost ten percent.  We have a top-notch police department, and our chief is making some smart decisions.  For our part, the council is investing in police technology, and of course, we added the K-9 Unit.  We also held taxes flat, and we’re seeing business growth surge.

Q:   Why is holding down taxes important?

Anesh: Moms and dads shouldn’t have to choose between paying their taxes and saving to send their kids to college.  We also can’t let our seniors be forced out of the town where they raised their families.

Q:   The part of the tax bill controlled by the council is flat this year.   How did you do that?

Anesh:  Several ways.  For example, we switched healthcare providers, which saved over a quarter-million dollars.  In addition, when the council negotiated union contracts, we were able to keep them below the state two-percent cap.     

Q:   What’s the biggest difference between you and your opponent, Chrissy Buteas?

Anesh:  Chrissy is a hard worker, but we already seen her perform on the council.  She raised taxes $404 in one year.  We can’t afford that again.  Her record simply doesn’t match her promises.  Her background is as a lobbyist, and mine is in management and finance.  I think that makes a difference. 

Q:   Any final thoughts?

Anesh: If people think South Plainfield is going in the right direction, I’m asking for their support.  But I also need Alex Barletta and Derryck White with me to keep things going that way.  I grew up in this town.  I met my wife at SPHS, and we chose to raise our family in South Plainfield.  I’m invested here, and more than anything, I want to keep South Plainfield moving forward.