Kenneth Tahan, the Democrat Candidate for Ward Four moved to Wayne when he was ten years old entering the Wayne school system until graduation from Wayne Valley High School. “Then I went to William Paterson College where I received a degree in Psychology.” After his college graduation, Tahan moved to Paterson and worked as a social worker for the Division of Youth and Family Services managing child abuse and child neglect cases for five years before going into the computer industry as a salesman for leading software companies for the next thirty years.
He married his wife Sharon and lived in Clifton for a time but with multiple children the young couple needed a bigger place to live and in 1996 found a home in Wayne that they fell in love with. His three children have all gone through the Wayne school systems graduating from Wayne Valley High School like their Dad.
“My wife and I ran the Basketball Booster Club for six years and we got to know the kids and the parents, and it was a wonderful experience,” said Tahan.
For Ken, giving back to the community was through sports. “We’re a very athletic oriented family. My kids played two or three sports year-round and our lives centered around Wayne youth sports,” said Tahan. For years he coached basketball, baseball, softball and soccer. “I had a great time and met a lot of great people,” he said with a smile.
How did he get involved in politics?
“I connected with the Democrat leadership in Wayne and as we were conversing, I learned that the Republicans have had a 9-0 representation on the Town Council and it’s been that way for years,” said Tahan. “There were no checks and balances in our government, and we were ruled by a minority because if you look at Independents and Democrats versus just Republicans, there are a lot more independents and Democrats.”
“There was no diversity of opinion on the Council and that bothered me because everything was rubber-stamped by the Council for the Mayor,” said Tahan. “So, I felt that we had no voice in our government. That was one reason I decided to run. We need other opinions and other ideas. As well as to open up certain avenues for more transparency and more dialogue.”
What is the job of a Wayne Town Councilperson?
“The primary job is to represent the people; to vocalize the problems that the people are having. The people don’t work for the Council. The Council is supposed to work for the people. If I’m elected it’s because the people want me to go to bat for them and I’ll do my best to represent their concerns to the Council.”
Why should people vote for you?
“I have thirty years of sales experience and it has taught me that you have to be able to listen; you have to be able to negotiate and look for a win-win situation and build consensus. I’ve been in hundreds of meetings and you have to understand the perspective of the people on the other side of the table. You have to be able to bring together resources to get the deal done.”
“Democrats and Independents should vote for me to express their concerns. If they want their voices heard they should vote Democrat. Our government is based on checks and balances, where the Council is supposed to check the Mayor and the Mayor is supposed to check the Council and since we have one-party-rule, there are no checks and balances. Everything gets rubber-stamped.”
“Also, there is no dialogue at our town council meetings. Citizens can speak for five minutes to express their concerns, then the council can go on for as long as they want, and the citizens don’t get a chance at rebuttal. There’s no back and forth, no dialogue, and that has to change.”
What is the biggest issue facing Wayne?
“My primary concern is Pedestrian safety and traffic control and safety. Speeding is out of control in Wayne. Especially on Valley Road, Alps Road, Ratzer Road and Hamburg Turnpike. People are going well-over forty miles per hour. In 2018 two people died in my Ward on consecutive days.”
On Valley Road its four lanes and no dividers. How are people supposed to cross the street at night? Seniors, commuters, kids. It’s a big problem. On the side roads, cars are doing forty miles an hour in a twenty-five. It’s a risk to our children, or anyone crossing the street, walking the dog or whatever. And I found that this government does nothing about that.”
Twenty-six people have died in vehicular accidents over the last five years. Seven on Valley Road. This administration has done nothing for pedestrian safety: crosswalks or lights between Preakness Ave and Ratzer Road on Valley Road.”
What are some other issues facing Wayne?
Economic Development. “Our malls, like the Preakness Shopping Center has so many empty stores there, and yet we’re building more strip malls. To me, that’s asinine. We should work to fill those stores before we build more.
“I’m in favor of a downtown Wayne. We have a sprawling suburb with no centralized area where people can go and get together with friends and family for a bite to eat, have a drink, shop or catch a show. Like they have in Morristown; you can see the ecosystem in that area flourishing. We could have that here.
“I want Wayne to host the Passaic County Performing Arts Center. We are the only County without this. It will elevate Wayne culturally and economically.
“Flooding is an issue. There is not enough dredging of the rivers. It doesn’t happen often enough, which is why we have the number of floods that we do. We need to dredge every couple of years.”
Taxes. “GAF left Wayne. I don’t know what happened there but that was a big company for Wayne. We need to bring in more Global 2000 businesses. There should be a really slick marketing campaign to bring bigger companies to Wayne. It helps economically in two ways: by increasing the commercial rateables, which will mean the residents pay less in taxes and the employees of these businesses are more likely to spend their money in Wayne by going out to eat, and shopping, buying gas, etc. That’s more money coming in to Wayne.
“There has to be more civility in our local politics. We should be able to sit down and have a conversation and not be so polarized. You can’t really talk to a Republican, as a Democrat. There has to be middle ground. If the Democrat has a good idea, the Republican should listen to it. And, if the Republican has a good idea, the Democrat should listen to it. We are at logger-heads and that needs to change.”