Aileen Rivera moved to Wayne in 2009 with her husband Joe after their grown children had all moved out of their home in Woodland Park. The empty nesters wanted a smaller place to live and chose a townhouse in Wayne. “We were looking for a place that offered an amazing quality of life and, in our research, we found that Wayne had all of the amenities of a city with a small-town charm,” said Rivera. “This is where we want to grow old,” she added.
The incumbent councilwoman from Ward Five has three sons and five grandchildren ranging from ages three to eighteen. “Once you have grandchildren, it completes life’s circle of love,” said Rivera of her grandchildren.
For the past twenty-nine years, Rivera has worked as an office manager for the same law firm, forming a close bond with the owners and staff. She’s volunteered her time at her church, at the Wayne Elks Lodge, at the PAL carnivals and, “I’ve helped rescue animals by finding homes for, mainly, dogs and birds,” she said.
Rivera has been a board member at the Valley Terrace Condo Association for nine years, serving as both Secretary and Treasurer.
How did she get involved in politics?
In 2010, her son Daniel, who has autism, was physically abused at a local developmental center where he stayed. This pushed Rivera into becoming an advocate for those with special needs and she lobbied in Trenton on their behalf. “I worked on both sides of the aisle to help get the Stephen Komninos Law passed. It was signed by former Governor Christie in 2017,” said Rivera. This law provides protection for every developmentally disabled person through transparency and accountability
It was a multi-year effort and her work caught the eye of the Wayne Republican Party, who were looking for someone to run for the Ward Five seat after Democrat Chris McIntyre decided to retire after twenty years of holding the seat.
“When I was asked if I would run for the Ward Five seat, I thought about it and realized it wasn’t a long stretch from what I was doing already, which was just helping people. So, I decided to say yes,” she said.
Rivera won the seat promising her constituents that she would revitalize the Fifth Ward shopping centers to attract new businesses. Also, she wanted to work on cutting taxes. “The taxes have been stabilized since I’ve been a councilwoman,” she said. “Our municipal property taxes have virtually flat-lined.”
Her platform also included working to stop over-development and opposing the re-zoning of Wayne. “I have a track record that speaks for itself of what I have done. I’ve kept my promises as to what I said I was going to do.”
What is the job of a Wayne Township Councilperson?
Rivera’s answer: “To be a voice for the residents, and to vote on the infrastructure of the town that will maintain the integrity and safety of the township. Being a public servant for the residents. As the Fifth Ward Councilwoman, I also voted for the replacement, repairs equipment. Things that man cannot see, but that are necessary to keep out town from deteriorating and that will keep our town up and running, with the quality of live we enjoy in Wayne Township. I am always accessible to my constituents. They know that if they call me, they will always get a return phone call.”
Why should people vote for you?
“AS the Councilwoman for the Fifth Ward, I have been a fiscally conservative, and our municipal property taxes have virtually flat-lined during my tenure. I actively collaborated with the Township Administration to secure millions of dollars in grants to help offset tax increases. Since my tenure, the assessed value of new and residential construction, as well as renovation work is close to $145Million. In addition, I have supported consolidation of services with other government offices, shared local legislation and state legislation that enhance the quality of live for our residents.”
“I also support responsible commercial development to enhance our tax base. I worked alongside the Administration to attract new commercial rateables. I strongly advocated for the former Wayne Hills Mall, which was an eyesore for over twenty years. I have also fought for Opioid Awareness to protect our children, fought to keep our streets safe by supporting local law enforcement and supported the police department expansion. And, I pushed for economic revitalization of underutilized commercial property.”
“I have been passionate in my community involvement as your Councilwoman, and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Fifth Ward residents.”
What is the biggest issue facing Wayne?
Public safety was Rivera’s answer with a focus on speeding. “Public safety is always paramount. Believe it or not, that’s one of the biggest complaints that our residents from of the town have. Throughout our communities, we have portable speed boards and we have increased our enforcement.”
What are some other issues facing Wayne?
As a volunteer for the Wayne Alliance for the Prevention of Substance Abuse, Rivera understands what a huge problem drug abuse is. “This is a problem that’s nationwide and Wayne Township is not immune to it and we have to deal with it. Our police department is doing the best they can to address the situation.”
“During my tenure as a councilwoman, property taxes have virtually flat-lined. My community involvement started long before I ran for office. I’m committed to continue to be a voice for the residents, so if re-elected I will continue to seek creative approaches, initiative methods, and new ideas to keep Wayne moving forward. And, I will continue to prioritize the Fifth Ward residents. It’s been an honor for me to be their voice and I will do everything in my reach to always maintain the quality of life that Wayne residents all enjoy.