Ward One Councilman Rich Jasterzbski (pronounced: Ya-streb-ski) has been working hard his whole life. “I started working at eleven years old, and I’m still working,” he said proudly. He’s been partners with his brother Tom for close to forty years, working in the automotive distribution industry.
Their business is something the two brothers started in their parents’ garage, then various other garages, and out of their trucks before they finally found a place to call home in Wayne. T&R Automotive Distributors is located on Fayette Avenue and the building they’re in is considered historic to some firefighters. It is one of the original firehouses for Wayne Fire Company #2 built back in 1936. If you visit Fire Company #2 you will see a replica of the building on display.
Jasterzbski graduated Passaic Valley High School in 1980, moved to Wayne Township in 1985, was married at age twenty-four and had the first of his two daughters at age 26. His girls are 27 and 29 years old now.
How did he get involved in politics?
Jasterzbski’s political career began about twenty years ago when a few neighbors in town asked him to get involved with the Republican party. “They knew me,” he said. “I was outspoken about how I felt. For me, politics is a passion.”
He went to several Republican Club meetings, joined the club and volunteered to help in elections for several council people, assemblymen, state senators, and also for the Mayor.
“I have always managed to get the job done and to make people look as good as possible,” said Jasterzbski. This got him recognized by Republican leadership and around 2007, he was asked to help out on a county level working on helping Republican candidates who were running for various offices.
His hard work and dedication kept him climbing the ladder. It led him to be asked by the chairman of the Passaic County Regular Republican Organization to be the campaign manager for two of the Freeholder candidates in 2008 and 2009. His candidates lost in 2008, but in 2009 he ran the campaign for Michael Marotta, who won that year. “It was the first time in a long time that all three Freeholder seats were won by Republicans,” said Jasterzbski
“I was then asked to serve on the county committee for the Republican party,” said the Ward One Councilman. “I Became Vice President of the republican club, serving under two different municipal chairmen, then ran for State Committee Man for the Republican Party for Passaic County and won, representing Passaic County at the state level for the Republican Party. He held that position for four years.
“Running for any office at that time was the furthest from my mind. I wanted to be the guy behind the scenes, not the out-front guy,” he said.
in 2013 when Ward One Councilman Alan Purcell resigned due to health reasons, Jasterzbski was asked to take the vacant seat that had two years of an expired term left. “I was a little nervous and reluctant, but what really made me decide yes was that I felt I could do a better job than the others who were being considered.” So, he accepted and was eventually chosen for the position.
Jasterzbski then won a special election to retain his town council seat in 2015.
What is the job of a Wayne Town Councilperson?
“My job, and the part I like the most, is being able to help the residents with any issue they have. I feel like I’ve done a really good job here.”
“I get emails all the time from residents who are looking for help,” said Jasterzbski. I always answer them and do whatever I can to help them. One woman told me that her water bill had all of a sudden jumped really high, and I was able to get the department guys to come down and see what the problem was. Their monitors showed that the woman was using hundreds of gallons of water in the middle of the night and it turns out that it was a plumbing problem in her house, and she was able to get the issue resolved. She was so grateful to me and to the guys who came out. Those are the kind of things that make me happy, when I can help people,” said Jasterzbski.
The members of the American Legion Post 174 are grateful for ‘Councilman Rich,’ for helping them to get their pavilion built. “Post 174 runs several charity fundraising events all year long and having a covered space means that events can continue even when the weather is bad,” said John Swank, the Vice Commander of Post 174 and Commander of the Passaic County American Legions.
Why should people vote for you?
“I fight high taxes and will always try to make Wayne more business friendly and more resident friendly. It’s no secret that I fought with the Administration on several issues including permitting and regulations. The process wasn’t easy for our residents,”
Since being elected, the councilman believes that things have changed for the better.
“I think that the administration, along with the council’s support, have taken steps to change and to show that the township is more resident-friendly and business-friendly. We’ve changed some of these issues to some degree.”
Jasterzbski talked about the challenges the Mayor faced when he first came to office, mentioning that there were many empty commercial spaces in Wayne, and there were some that wanted to replace the commercial space with residential space. “There’s one rule of thumb in government,” said Jasterzbski. “Never replace commercial space with residential space because the businesses help keep the burden of taxes off of the residents.”
“In the last four or five years, with the council’s support, the Mayor has turned the town around to bring businesses back and have kept residents property taxes flat,” said Jasterzbski. “And, I have done as much as I can to support that and support him and will continue to do that, because it’s part of my job.”
What is the biggest issue facing Wayne?
Speeding. “What really burns me is in the afternoon or in the morning when the school kids are getting on the bus or off the bus, you see cars trying to get around the bus when its lights are flashing…my blood-pressure really starts going,” he said.
“I’ve asked for extra detail from the police department to fight speeding in the Ward I represent, and it’s been delivered, and it’s still being delivered.”
What are some other issues facing Wayne?
“High density, affordable housing is another big challenge and the problem is we can only do what the state of New Jersey will allow us to do. There’s rules and regulations and courts and judges that will make the decisions and all we can do is fight it as much as we can to have as little high-density housing in Wayne as we can.”
“Our job is going to be to make the best of what they give us to work with,” he said. “We’re going to oversee the process and we’re going to make lemonade out of lemons.”
“I took an oath to serve the residents of the First Ward,” he said. “With the help of the Mayor and the Administration, I’m able to serve the residents of the First Ward, proudly.”