WAYNE, NJ – November 5 is Election Day and all six Wayne Township Ward seats are up for election this cycle. On September 26, the League of Women Voters held their candidates forum at the Wayne Town Hall. During the forum, all the candidates in attendance answered seven questions that came from the audience.
This is the last in a series of seven articles summarizing the answers given by each of the candidates in attendance, as well as answers obtained exclusively by TAPinto Wayne from candidates who could not participate at the live event.
Participating at The Forum:
- Republican incumbent, Councilman Al Sadowski
- Democrat challenger, Candidate Dianne Douthat
- Republican incumbent, President of the Council Franco Mazzei
- Democrat challenger, Candidate Karen Dowizc-Haas
- Republican incumbent, Councilman Joe Scuralli
- Democrat challenger, Candidate Ken Tahan
- Budget Hawk challenger, Candidate Christian Smith
- Republican incumbent, Councilman Aileen Rivera
- Democrat challenger, Candidate Fran Ritter
Did Not Participate
Could not attend:
- Ward One Republican incumbent, Councilman Rich Jasterzbski
Not allowed to participate because of League of Women Voter “empty chair debate” rules:
- Ward One Democrat challenger, Candidate Arlene Sullivan
- Ward Six Republican incumbent, Councilman Jonathan Ettman
Though all three candidates who could not participate in the forum were invited to provide answers to the seven questions to TAPinto Wayne, only the Democrat Ward One candidate, Arlene Sullivan, did so. Her answers will be a part of this series.
Question 7: What alternative energy sources do you support for Wayne and how would you accomplish this?
Ward Five Republican Incumbent Aileen Rivera: “This is an interesting question. It’s something that we have to view and see what options we have to address this in our town. Our Township is very hands on with what’s best for our Township. We have an open-door policy in discussing issues with residents and their concerns with continued dialogue.”
Ward Two Republican Incumbent Al Sadowski: “We’d love to see more alternative energy sources, it’s another thing that everybody would agree with. Can we put more solar panels around? Sure. The School Board has been very aggressive at deploying solar arrays at some of their schools. At one point, Wayne Township looked into a CoGen facility here and got a lot of pushback from residents here. I welcome to see these kind of things, but, again, the bigger issues with Wayne residents is what we’re doing about speeding and lowering taxes. Will alternative energies lower some of our bills? Sure, but to move the needle, there are some bigger things we need to focus on.”
Ward Two Democrat Candidate Dianne Douthat: I’ve gone to town council meetings several times and I’ve asked, when we’re purchasing vehicles, about electric or alternative-energy vehicles. Have these been looked at? And, I’ve never gotten an answer. So, I’d like to know: Have they been looked at? Will somebody answer that question for me. Also, we need to look at alternate energy sources. Our Wayne PAL has solar panels now. Our Board of Education produces 35% of its energy through solar, and its saving us, as taxpayers, millions of dollars. We should do that here too. And we also need to look at having EV charging stations around town, because it will make buying electric vehicles more attractive to people and they are 80% cleaner and they are so much cheaper. My husband drives one. Talk to him, and he’ll tell you how much money we’re saving. So, we need to do many things: EV charging stations to encourage electric car purchasing and solar panels to keep our air cleaner, so we don’t have a ‘D’ rating on our air anymore. We can improve this, and we can do this.
Council President and Ward Three Republican Incumbent Franco Mazzei: We’ll leave it to the experts; our lead engineer Heather Del Rio is always taking initiatives with our Township campus here. The library, with the LED lighting audits, the switching of lights as far as efficiencies are concerned and taking that to the next level, including the alternative energy sources as well.”
Ward Three Democrat Candidate Karen Dowicz-Haas: “I think the biggest alternative energy source that isn’t being utilized in this town is something called ‘active transport.’ That’s walking and biking. That would reduce the number of cars on the road. That would reduce the amount of speeding in this town. That would get everybody a little healthier. If we could get safer bike paths, that would work. Or, even, what would be really great are electric scooters like they have in Bloomington, Indiana for kids to get around on. There’s so much we can do.”
Ward Four Budge Hawk Candidate Christian Smith: “Just driving around I Wayne, you’re seeing more Tesla, more Nissan Leafs, Chevy Volts, Kia hybrids, in fact I have a Kia hybrid; Love it. What’s missing in the Town of Wayne are charging areas for electric vehicles. As they continue to increase, there’s going to be a need for charging areas. That’s one area I will focus on.”
“Another part is getting back to partnering with the Board of Ed in school buses. School buses have a life of ten years. The maintenance cost is very expensive. We can partner with the Board of Ed and with federal rebates start the purchase of electric school buses, and the total cost of ownership over ten years will actually be less than buying traditional gas buses. So, those are two areas I would focus on.”
Ward Four Republican Incumbent Joe Scuralli: I think alternative energy is important to the future, but I don’t think the Wayne taxpayer, whose blood, sweat and tears goes into them paying their taxes should be used to fund experimental technology. I think that when you put solar panels on buildings, the only way it makes money is when you have a government subsidy. And, who’s paying for it? You are, the taxpayer. I looked at putting them on my house. I kept asking the company, ‘How come I can’t get this thing to make money without a subsidy?’ And, I was told: ‘well, you got to believe in it.’ Well, I think the taxpayers should at least get a deal where they are getting a dollar for a dollar that they put in. So, I’m all for promoting alternative energy, but if we put solar panels on a roof, when the roof goes bad and it has to get fixed, then we have to rip those solar panels off and put them back in for nothing. We pay all of that cost and nobody helps us. They don’t count those costs. There’s a lot of hidden costs. You need to run government like a business.”
Ward Four Democrat Candidate Ken Tahan: “Well, there’s no question that alternative energies are the future in our world today. I would like to see a partnership with businesses that provide solar panels to Wayne and offer some kind of rebate to incent people to put solar panels on their home and lessen the cost to the taxpayer to do that.”
Ward Five Democrat Candidate Fran Ritter: “Being the President on the Brittany Chase Board of Directors, in concert with my trustees, we have to keep a sharp eye on the Budget. I believe, you too, Ms. Rivera, you serve in your condo association board. I believe as treasurer. In addition to saving the environment, you have to save our homeowner’s money, too. So, solar energy is something that we are looking into. Common element expenses are extremely high. We have eleven residential buildings. We have streetlights. We have great roofs. I’m not so worried that our roofs are going to go bad.”
“Solar energy is not experimental, its well documented that it’s great for the environment and it saves homeowners a lot of money. That’s not thinking in the box, Mr. Scuralli.”
In her emailed answers to TAPinto Wayne, Ward One Democrat Candidate Arlene Sullivan wrote: “We need to understand that fossil fuels are not a renewable energy source and we should research what is out there and available to plan what is right for us, allowing us to make informed decisions instead of waiting until the last minute and be forced into a corner.”