Nineteen years ago, Christian Smith, the Budget Hawk Candidate for the Ward Four Council seat moved to Wayne. “It took us about two years to find the right home,” said Smith. “We knew how great the school system was in Wayne and we looked at several properties before we found the right one.”
He’d married his wife Doreen a few years before they moved and had their first child, Carolyn, just after moving to Wayne. Both of his daughters went all the way through the Wayne School system with Carolyn now enrolled at James Madison University while Jennifer is a Senior at Wayne Hills High School.
What do your daughters think about you running for Town Council? “They think it’s a hoot,” Smith said with a smile. “They got a kick out of me running for the Board of Ed, too.”
Currently, Smith works in Trade and Analytics within the pharmaceutical industry.
How did he get involved in Politics?
After his daughters finished recreation soccer for the Boys and Girls Club, where he was a coach, Smith had an interest in running for the Wayne Board of Education. “A friend at church introduced me to someone else who also had an interest, so we got together and ran together, and she won, while I lost. But I won the next year gaining a seat on the Wayne Board of Ed,” he said.
“With my analytical background, I felt I could analyze the budget and the different programs and provide good input.” Laughing, he added: “You can ask Dr. Toback. From the first day I was known to rip apart a good budget.”
When his three-year term on the Board of Education was over, Smith did not win re-election. Knowing his daughters would both be away in college he knew he would have the time to turn his attention from the educational side to the Town Council. “I started researching and realized that there was a chance I could win,” he said.
What is the job of a Wayne Town Councilperson?
“Though I am vying for the Ward Four seat, my responsibility covers all of Wayne. I will be available to residents, listening to concerns and offering insights and/or solutions. Importantly, I will be bringing a level of transparency to decisions via open discussions at meetings I feel is currently lacking.”
Why should people vote for you?
“As well as being open about the budget, I’m very adept at reviewing the budget and determining what I feel, or don’t feel are necessary expenses and my willingness to have those tough discussions in public. My analytic capabilities and my experience on the board of Ed, where I showed my ability to being able to work with other people.”
What is the biggest issue facing Wayne?
“A changing of demographics. The biggest issue, which is imminent, is residents whose children are moving on are staying in Wayne longer than they have in the past. You’re seeing a decrease in the number of children enrolled in Wayne schools. It’s now moved on from the grammar schools and this year it’s having an impact in the middle schools and in three years, it will start impacting the high schools, where this change in demographics really starts taking hold.
It gets to the point of: How do we prepare for this change? What do we do when schools see decreasing student enrollment? At what point is change warranted. These are hard discussions that are going to have to take place sooner rather than later.”
What are some other issues facing Wayne?
One view: “What we have on the council is one party that is all together and with it you don’t get a different perspective; a different view. I think its missing. There is no discussion because they are all together and you don’t get any real discussion on matters.”
Economics: “Although taxes have stabilized, which is good, there is so much behind those numbers as far as uncollected taxes and debt. I don’t doubt that there is a level of borrowing that can be tapered back. There is no question. Of the approximate $84Million town budget, $7million goes toward debt annually.”
Difficulties for businesses: “The Permitting process is really onerous, and contractors don’t want to work in Wayne. It’s much worse here than in other towns.”
A lack of collaboration with the Board of Education: “There are a number of areas where, in the past, there were shared costs. One of which was the artificial turf for the Wayne school sports fields. Ten years ago, the Town and the Board of Ed partnered on sharing those costs, and now that’s not necessarily the case. I feel the town should share some of the costs of the field. I feel the town should think about covering 50% of the cost. Because any cost not covered, is coming out of the general fund. But any amount of money that the Board of ed has to pay in short-term debt for the field are dollars that are not available for educational purposes. The lack of those funds could hamper educational initiatives. For every dollar spent on the field is a dollar not spent on education.
Why did you run as a third-party candidate?
“It’s impossible to win a primary if you are not affiliated with one of the two Wayne Republican factions. If you’re not aligned to either one of them, there’s no way you can win a primary. I wasn’t allowed to use any party name with the word Republican in it, like ‘Republican Alternative,’ so I chose Budget Hawk, though I am a registered Republican.”
“I’m excited for the upcoming election. I’d like to just see a huge turnout. It would really be absolutely terrific to see an increase in the number of voters. That would warm my heart. Regardless of who you vote for. Just vote.”