SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – On Election Day 2016, Democratic Party candidates Jon Dean and Gary Vesce both garnered seats on the South Plainfield Borough Council and, on Jan. 2 were officially sworn in at the town’s annual reorganization meeting. Longtime residents of the borough, Dean and Vesce will both serve three-year terms.
“Evidentially, our platform resonated with the voters and we hit some of the key issues. We are certainly grateful and were very humbled by the support we received,” said Vesce during a recent interview with TAPinto South Plainfield. “It is a rewarding feeling to know so many people voted for Jon and I. It also makes us feel good to know that residents think we can make a difference and that gives us a lot of incentive to not let them down.”
An employee with the Middlesex County Highway Department for 43 years and currently a general road supervisor, Vesce is looking forward to putting his professional experience to use in South Plainfield. One of the top items on his ‘to do’ list is to look into reducing truck traffic through the borough.
“I don't feel there should be trucks going through the center of town; those roads are not the place for tractor trailers and I would like to work to stop that. There are different options... [and] I would like to look and see how this problem can be fixed,” Vesce said.
Dean, a principal owner of the South Plainfield-based A-Tech Landscaping, agrees, adding, “Right now, trucks are not supposed be traveling along the roads they are. The drivers are getting smarter, bypassing the truck route to avoid certain areas and making their own routes through town.”
Vesce also feels there are options available – such as better signage and/or message boards as well as stricter enforcement – to curtail the problem and stop violators who make their own routes through town “We have to come up with ways to let the truckers know that driving through our roads is not going to be allowed,” he said.
Additionally, Vesce hopes to work with his fellow councilmembers to revisit Durham Avenue and work to install a dedicated left-hand turning lane for those looking to enter McDonald’s. “I understand this is a congested area and that it is right off of 287 and that we are a cut-through for traffic but I feel that if someone on the council knew the issues when this was being planned, they would have realized the impact a left hand turn lane would have made,” Vesce said. “It may not alleviate all those problems, but I feel it will relieve some.”
As councilmembers, Vesce and Dean would also like to see the borough establish an independent ethics review board and both have publicly stated they will make this item a top priority during their tenure.
"We aren’t saying that anyone is doing anything wrong, but a committee like this would serve as protection for councilmembers and borough employees when it comes to contracts, tax appeals and other things so that, down the road, no one could say there was any time of favoritism,” said Dean.
Vesce added, “Transparency and perception are key and with an ethics review board everything would be out there and in plan view so that the town doesn't have to worry about explaining anything. Things would be out in the open for everybody to see.”
As a member of the council, Dean said he is looking forward to working with his fellow councilmembers and learning how everything works and how the town operates. “I am eager to see it from all perspectives – from finance and how money is spent to what departments do what, and what needs to be done to make sure every department has what it needs need,” he said.
While Dean and Vesce will be the only two Democrats on a council that, for the past year, has been Republican ruled, Dean told TAPinto that, so far, the transition has been smooth. He is also hopeful that party affiliation will not play a role in how the council works together.
“I don't see butting heads being an issue. We will all be working for the benefit of the residents of South Plainfield and our overall objective is to get things done,” Dean said.
Additionally, said Vesce, both he and Dean are eager to officially begin their terms.
“I am excited – excited about doing things for and addressing the concerns of the residents,” said Vesce, adding, “I may not have all the answers and all my ideas may not all be good or the way to go, but I will make logical and realistic decisions. My goal is to do something positive and make the town better.”
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