After six years of broken promises and flip-flops, ignored issues and dubious fiscal games, Matt Anesh and South Plainfield’s Republicans have proven the need for restoring honest and open government to Borough Hall.
Chrissy Buteas, Democratic candidate for mayor, and Joe Lambert and Jeff Seider, Democrats for borough council, said it’s time local government live up to the expectations of residents, and follow-through on the promises it makes. They said Matt Anesh and the Republicans repeatedly tell voters one thing to get elected, then quickly forget their pledges and put their focus only on the next election, not the needs of residents.
“Staying true to your word to the voters is one of the most important things that a public servant can do, but Matt Anesh and the Republicans have broken their word time and time again,” said Buteas. “It’s time that honesty and openness once again flow through Borough Hall. We are committed to restoring integrity to borough finances, working openly with residents to end the traffic nightmare on our streets, and reach across neighborhoods to restore the quality of life that made South Plainfield such a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Buteas, Lambert and Seider noted the Republicans' broken promises start with their fiscal stewardship. They said Matt Anesh and the Republicans took control with a promise to control spending, yet bills have increased more than $4 million in the six years they’ve run things.
To balance the books, the Republicans have raided more than $500,000 from emergency surplus funds. They also diverted more than $1 million in borrowed capital meant for road repairs and other infrastructure improvements, and have used nearly $500,000 in money meant for Superstorm Sandy repairs to plug holes.
Because of their fiscal games, Matt Anesh and the Republicans have left the borough with no “rainy day fund” for emergencies. They borrowed $1 million this year just to pay property tax appeals.
“It is time to stop the fiscal games that are putting our financial future at risk,” said Lambert. “It is time for honest budgets that spend only what the borough takes in, that doesn’t rely on smoke and mirrors, and that puts away money the future. It's time our budgets reflect reality, not politics."
“Matt Anesh and the Republicans crow about how low taxes are, but they won’t say a peep about the fees they’ve raised, or what they’ll do when there’s no more money left to pull from elsewhere to fill the holes they’ve dug,” said Seider. “They won’t say how they’ll pay for emergency repairs. They’ve already borrowed to pay for today, and soon they’ll be borrowing more to pay for tomorrow. Things need to change in Borough Hall, and the first thing that needs to be done is to deal openly and honestly with our finances.”
In addition, Buteas, Lambert and Seider noted other broken promises and flip-flops from the Republicans’ years of control:
Traffic: Republicans promised an overhaul of borough zoning laws to discourage the over-development that makes traffic even worse and strains local infrastructure, but have done nothing, allowing a traffic nightmare to continue that clogs local roads and puts pedestrians at risk. In fact, the current administration approved new development of a McDonalds and 7-11 without regard for adequately mitigating the traffic issues created by the projects. Republicans also opposed the truck ban on Hamilton Boulevard, yet endorsed it after they took control, and only sporadically enforce it.
Ethics Reform: On borough council, Mayor Anesh voted against an anti-pay-to-play ordinance because he said it didn’t go far enough -- but he has never proposed anything on his own.
Accessible Services: Republicans broke their promise to keep local services accessible by reducing hours for yard waste and bulk trash compactor, and never implemented promised Sunday accessibility.
The Democrats pointed to the South Plainfield Republicans being found guilty earlier this year by state election officials of breaking campaign finance law as proof of their “say anything to get elected” mentality.
The Republicans were fined $5,000 for nine counts of campaign law infractions covering more than a dozen instances, including overdue filings of required campaign finance reports and failure to disclose thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.
“Local government is about attending to the needs of the people, yet under Matt Anesh it has become about creating a political empire,” said Buteas. “The needs of the people have been pushed aside by a desire for political control. We must put the focus in Borough Hall back on attending to the needs of the people for a functional, open local government that attends to their needs. That’s the promise Joe, Jeff and I have made, and it’s one we’ll keep.”
Editor's Note: Candidates statement was posted late due to it being submitted late to The Alternative Press of South Plainfield by the candidates.