There is no question that we face difficult issues in the immediate future, especially with the loss of Merck.  Our governing body needs to be proactive.   A “wait and see” approach won’t work.  Neither will failed initiatives such as new pavers or way finder signs in the downtown.  These types of solutions are simply a waste of tax dollars.

The clichéd “Think Outside of the Box” is needed.    Elected Officials must not trap themselves inside an “echo chamber.”  This is where people just reinforce their own opinions.  You most certainly cannot act to serve a political agenda, which happens far too often when one party overwhelming dominates.  Too much “harmony” too often blunts good new ideas.  Honest, candid debate is essential for good government   

Creative thinking often raises lots of questions and that is a good thing.  For example, when I was last on Council, I began to question our senior and youth services programs.  We were spending only $5,000 on Senior programing and about $100,000 on a Youth Program at the “Johnson Center.”   I proposed selling the dilapidated Johnson building and use that money to renovate our aging Rec Center and combine programs there.  Initially, there was concern over closing the Johnson Center, but it happened and thanks to our Rec Director; both programs are now at the Rec Center, stronger than ever at about a $50,000 annual savings to you, the taxpayer.   The Johnson Building has now been sold and plans are being developed for a renovated Rec Center, funded in part by the sale and grant monies from various sources.   There is also the potential to sell naming rights to all or parts of the renovated building.

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I have and will continue to pursue zoning changes that not only permit, but provide incentives for Active Adult and CCRC housing.  Summit is perfect for those uses.  It provides an option for our seniors and it places zero burden on our schools.  We need this significant new revenue and we need to make it attractive to developers.  We need to find a use for the Cornog Field House at Memorial Field.   Perhaps the Board of Ed could move their offices there freeing up valuable space for all day kindergarten at Wilson School for those children that need it the most.

Serving on Council must be more than showing up every other Tuesday. It requires a dedication and commitment to seek out the best solutions for Summit 24/7.  I love my city enough to do just that.

Mike Vernotico

Democratic Candidate, Summit Common Council, Ward 2