Wayne Sixth Ward Councilman Jon Ettman is a litigator. He deals in a lot of personal injury cases, business-related cases and his firm has also been involved very heavily in bullying cases. “We get involved when a child may have been badly harmed because of a school’s inaction in resolving the behaviors of other children who’ve had a history of mistreating other students,” said Ettman.
He received his law degree from New York Law School in downtown Manhattan and worked in the city for years before being hired by a firm with an office in Jersey City in 2001, and now works in Glen Ridge.
When his wife was pregnant with their second child, the couple needed a bigger place, researched many towns and settled on Wayne. “We saw so many opportunities in Wayne for activities and sports for the kids, a strong community and the schools had a great reputation,” he said. “Where I grew up in East Windsor, I lived in a community with a lot of diversity, and I’m grateful that I was exposed to many different cultures. I wanted the same for my children and I saw that here in Wayne, too.” They moved here in 2005.
Ettman’s daughter is currently a junior at Wayne Hills High School and his son is in eighth grade at Schuyler-Colfax Middle School. Both are heavily involved in sports and Ettman gets to as many of their games as he can. “I was involved in coaching with the Boys and Girls Club, and my family really began to become ingrained in the town through sports. It’s still a big part of our lives.”
How did he get involved in politics?
“I was initially not involved in politics at all and didn’t want to be,” said Ettman. “But over the course of time, I had thought about it often and came to realize that it’s not good enough to be a passive complainer. If I wanted to see real change in Wayne, I knew I had to get involved. I was finally feeling firmly entrenched and invested in the town and I wanted to put my money where my mouth was. So, I decided to go for it.”
He continued: “Plus, I was at a point in my life where I wanted to give something back to the community and do something to help this amazing town that has provided so much for me and my family.”
As a litigator, Ettman felt his experience and skills as a communicator and mediator would be beneficial to Wayne. “
“I felt that my background as a litigator and my skills as a communicator and a mediator could serve the town well and felt qualified that I could offer a benefit for the town. “I believe as an attorney, in certain situations, I’m able to understand legal concepts, extrapolate and more quickly find solutions. Whereas it might be a little more complicated or difficult for someone without my education and experience.”
He received the nomination from the Wayne Regular Republican Organization, then ran a successful campaign and won the Sixth Ward Seat in 2015.
Ettman does not have an opponent in the upcoming election as the Democrat candidate that won the primary dropped out of the race. Because of this, a different question was asked in this section compared to the other Candidate articles, who were asked: ‘Why should people vote for you?’
What are you most proud of in your job as a Councilman?
“My service to my constituents. My rule of thumb is to respond to any residents inquiry within 24 hours and I think people appreciate that. I’ve sat in many people’s kitchens and talked with my constituents and I listen, and I act. I make that a priority. I can’t say that I will always have a solution or tell them what they want to hear, but they will always be heard, and I will always provide that.”
What is the job of a Wayne Town Councilperson?
1. “To advocate for your residents. They elected me and I owe a duty to them to address their concerns and be their voice.”
2. “To serve as a check and balance to the Administration. In our form of government, the Mayor is akin to the President and the Council is akin to the Congress and our job is to provide a check to the Administrations and to pass ordinances/laws. We’re not there to rubber stamp everything. We’re there to make sure that the proposals being offered are beneficial to our Wards and to the Town in general.”
What is the biggest issue facing Wayne?
“The Mount Laurel/Affordable Housing issue. “I can’t say much about it because of pending litigation, but it’s going to be a mandate. Its law. We’re going to have to address it, and we’re doing what we can to address it properly, timely and in accordance with the law.”
What are some other issues facing Wayne?
“Economic Development, which is an ongoing issue that we’re always concerned with and focused on, and I believe we’ve done really well recently. It’s not just about commercial tax revenue, but it’s also about quality of life for the community in the sense that you’d like to have opportunities for shopping and dining and other things that people enjoy as residents. When you have a shopping center full of occupied store fronts of retail and restaurants, that always benefits the community. We’re always trying to do the best that we can to keep our business community vibrant.”
“Taxes are always going to be an issue and I feel that in my time on the Council, we’ve kept taxes flat and we are working to do whatever we can to keep it that way.
One of the attributes of the current make-up of the Council is that you have some skilled professional people with various backgrounds. Franco Mazzei and I are both litigators and we offer skills that I think are really transferable to the Council. Then we have David Varano who has a real strong financial background and Jill Sasso and Al Sadowski who, likewise, have very strong business backgrounds. Rich Jasterzbski brings a real good grasp of a local business owner and what they need to see to be successful in this town, which I think is a real advantageous perspective. When you look at the whole council, you see a real amalgamation; a real blend of quality backgrounds that really benefit the town. We can feed off each other and its helpful.