UNION, NJ – Each week, Tapinto Union will be running a series called “Meet the Leaders”. The objective is to provide our readers an opportunity to hear from Township leaders in government, public safety, education, houses of worship and other areas, regarding Union’s present and future outlook.
Each ‘leader’ was asked to share a little information about their background and personal life. Additional questions varied by job title. The answers will be published unedited.
Today, Township Committeeman Manuel Figueiredo is featured:
Tapinto Union: Tell us a little about your background.
Committeeman Figueiredo: We are a family of six. I have four children (two sons and two daughters). I have a lovely wife named Rosa. I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in education and further graduate work in CIS at NJIT and Montclair University.
I came to Union in 1994 from Newark, where I was born and raised. I’m a performing musician and an avid lover of various genres of music. I love to cook- my favorite cuisine to cook being French/Italian cuisine. I love making sauces.
Tapinto Union: How long have you been on the Committee? What other positions have you held? Why did you run for office?
Committeeman Figueiredo: I have served on the committee for 8 years. I have served on almost every committee and acted as commissioner to all departments during that time. I also served two terms as Mayor the most recent being last year- 2016. I ran for public office to accept a new challenge into my life, that continues my commitment to serving others and my community.
Tapinto Union: What have you learned during your tenure as a Committeeperson?
Committeeman Figueiredo: As a committeeperson I have learned that change can begin with just one person and the willingness to make a difference. I have always considered myself a champion for new, progressive and exciting ideas, and as time continues to pass I hope to continue to be a catalyst for change for many years to come.
Tapinto Union: Can you outline the departments you oversee and the responsibilities therein?
Committeeman Figueiredo: This year I’m serving as Police Commissioner. As commissioner, I oversee the Police Department and read reports into public record. In essence I serve as the liaison between the Committee and the Police Department, whereby we communicate to ensure that they have everything that they need in terms of staffing and equipment, so that they can continue to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible in protecting our residents.
Tapinto Union: What do you see as challenges for Committee members?
Committeeman Figueiredo: Our biggest challenge is to continuously find new and innovative ways to address the wants and needs of our residents. As the world changes, so do their needs and in some ways our jobs as committee people become more complex but yet more challenging and rewarding.
Tapinto Union: What do you see as challenge(s) for Union?
Committeeman Figueiredo: I don’t see many things as challenges - more so opportunities to learn and grow. Along those lines, we’ve identified these opportunities in areas like infrastructure, taxes, and economic growth, particularly in Union Center. My colleagues and I have worked diligently to progress in these areas and we have certainly seen results. In the past two years alone we have seen improvements to almost 100 roads. We have seen businesses invest and re-invest in Union, and we are on the verge of a rebirth in Union Center. We also have seen opportunities for growth in our Police Department and with strong support, not only is crime down 28.7% since 1997, but we have also been accredited by the State of NJ.
Tapinto Union: Are there any new programs/events/initiatives you'd like to discuss?
Committeeman Figueiredo: 2017 is a really exciting year where not only are we continuing to see renewed growth in Union Center, but expansion of some great programs like the Property Tax Rewards Program. We also have some new and exciting programs over in our Recreation Department, and we’re gearing up for a great month-long Black History Month Celebration. Info on all of these is available on our website www.uniontownship.com and also on our facebook, @TWpUnionNJ. You can also follow ME on Instagram @manny_figueiredo and Twitter @ManFigUnion.