WAYNE, NJ – November 5 is Election Day and all six Wayne Township Ward seats are up for election this cycle. On September 26, the League of Women Voters held their candidates forum at the Wayne Town Hall. During the forum, all the candidates in attendance answered seven questions that came from the audience.
This is the fourth in a series of seven articles summarizing the answers given by each of the candidates in attendance, as well as answers obtained exclusively by TAPinto Wayne from candidates who could not participate at the live event.
Participating at The Forum:
- Republican incumbent, Councilman Al Sadowski
- Democrat challenger, Candidate Dianne Douthat
- Republican incumbent, President of the Council Franco Mazzei
- Democrat challenger, Candidate Karen Dowizc-Haas
- Republican incumbent, Councilman Joe Scuralli
- Democrat challenger, Candidate Ken Tahan
- Budget Hawk challenger, Candidate Christian Smith
- Republican incumbent, Councilman Aileen Rivera
- Democrat challenger, Candidate Fran Ritter
Did Not Participate
Could not attend:
- Ward One Republican incumbent, Councilman Rich Jasterzbski
Not allowed to participate because of League of Women Voter “empty chair debate” rules:
- Ward One Democrat challenger, Candidate Arlene Sullivan
- Ward Six Republican incumbent, Councilman Jonathan Ettman
Though all three candidates who could not participate in the forum were invited to provide answers to the seven questions to TAPinto Wayne, only the Democrat Ward One candidate, Arlene Sullivan, did so. Her answers will be a part of this series.
Question 4: How would you bring more Arts and Culture to Wayne?
Ward Four Republican Incumbent, Joe Scuralli started: “We always want to have a balanced life. We want to balance our work life and home life and yes arts and culture are a part of that,” he said. “I think we have a great resource here in terms of arts and culture. That’s William Paterson University. I worked there for six years, so I know they are a great university and they have tremendous resources there.”
“At different properties around the town,” continued Scuralli, “we have museums with great programs there. Where people can come and participate in different cultural, historical and art-related activities. The township also offers different activities for young people at the Library and I believe we have a wealth of them here.” Scuralli finished by asking for anyone who was interested in starting a program to contact the town.
Next spoke Democrat Ward Four Candidate, Ken Tahan: “Well Wayne is a sprawling suburban area, but we don’t have a centralized area for people to come to congregate to have something to eat, to have a drink, or desert. I was recently at the Morris County PAC last week and near that theatre, there was a tremendous amount of activities for children and adults and it changed the whole ecosystem of the area, where there were restaurants, and places to go for people to sit down and have something to eat or something to drink, and I would like to see that happening in Wayne.”
Ward Five Democrat Candidate Fran Ritter started with a shot at Scuralli’s answer: “I love William Paterson and I love what they have to offer, but it certainly can’t accommodate everyone in this township. I think it’s time that this township invests in a community center that accommodates all the seniors. We have a lot of fifty-five and older communities, but now we have to actually make it so everyone can centralize. Instead of all these fragmented senior groups, why can’t we have one consolidated center, and have it double as a cultural center? So that it has use multi-generationally and multi-culturally. An auditorium or performance space to exhibit the work of this township and all of its residents. I think it would be a wonderful tribute to everyone in Wayne Township.”
Aileen Rivera the Ward Five Republican Incumbent Councilwoman said: “Our township offers a lot of things. We have museums, we have the library that offers a lot of programs there. We have the concert series that’s done every summer for all Wayne residents to come out and participate and enjoy. I, personally, worked on having community outreach this past year with our first-ever Christmas tree lighting at the Wayne Elks Lodge. We invited the community and there were over three-hundred people. Even our township has outreach program with the tree-lighting and the menorah lighting, we have a lot going on.”
Ward Two Incumbent Republican Al Sadowski asked a rhetorical question: “Who doesn’t like Arts and Culture? It certainly isn’t something up for debate. Can we do more? Of course.
“Right in the heart of the Second Ward is the Dey Mansion,” he continued. “The county has done a lot to improve it and bring attention to it. But, what’s also great is that there is a lot of Boy Scout and Cub Scout groups in Wayne that use the Dey Manion as the basis for service projects.”
“As the councilwoman mentioned, we started a Menorah lighting program to expand the tree-lighting and have more inclusivity. Something I would love the township to do and I mentioned it to the Parks Commissioner, is I would like to see Sunnybank revitalized and turned into a band shell for outdoor concerts and live performances. We could use or open space money to fund the development of something like that.”
Dianne Douthat, the Ward Two Democrat Candidate was well-prepared with her answer: “As a musician and music educator, the arts are near and dear to my heart, because culture and the arts bring people together and unite us.
“My idea is to start a Wayne summer arts festival. Let’s include community input to make it truly our own. Let’s reach out to William Paterson University and to the Y and work with them on this. Let’s include performances of music and dance and theater featuring our local talent at the Wayne Valley and Wayne Hills auditoriums which are empty over the summer.”
“Let’s highlight our town’s diversity. We have incredible diversity here and so much to be proud of. Let’s feature multi-cultural arts and performances. Let’s create an inter-generational performance group. I would love to lead a ukulele ensemble that would include adults, our children and our seniors. What a wonderful thing that would be to bring us together. Let’s include art exhibits of our local artists and local businesses around town. We can expand performances that are already happening at the farmer’s market. I believe this would be a way to unite us and bring us together, and we need this so much now. Let’s start a Wayne summer arts festival.”
President of the Council and Ward Three Republican Incumbent, Franco Mazzei said: “I’m so encouraged to hear the sentiments regarding the arts and culture. As a start in this community in my volunteerism, I volunteered to serve as a trustee on the Wayne Public Library Board, and I encourage everyone in this room and all the participants to apply for a library card. To see how we encourage the diversity of the special quality of our community and the programming that that staff puts together. Its phenomenal and it’s a great experience for our youth and our citizens. The Wayne Public Library, it’s a special place to all of us.”
The Ward Three Democrat Challenger, Karen Dowicz-Haas said: “If you’re by a computer right now or on a phone, you can google ‘Zero Empty Spaces.’ It’s an initiative that they are doing down in Florida. It matches empty storefronts with local artists. It gets the empty properties available for a reduced or very low fee for the artists to show their wares and it would be a way to do two things at once, which we need to do.”
The Ward Four Budget Hawk Candidate, Christian Smith spoke last on the subject: “This also ties back into partnering with the Board of Ed. I was shocked that all these years, there’s no bandshell in Wayne. I grew up in Paramus, we had a bandshell and it was the epicenter of the community. Teaneck -they had a bandshell. Probably still do. Again, the epicenter of the area. So, I would focus on creating a bandshell and using that as an epicenter for development of small shops to open up around that bandshell. It would be welcoming to have our two wonderful bands from Hills and Valleys perform for the community and have them come together as one. As well as bring concerts in on a weekly basis throughout the summer, spring and fall.”
In her emailed answers to TAPinto Wayne, Ward One Democrat Candidate Arlene Sullivan wrote: “Presently we have a Wayne Day but I think it would be exciting to organize a Community Day where all the residents of Wayne could gather together to enjoy music – provided by local and invited bands, crafts – juried entries, art exhibits – local students through senior, and food tasting opportunities provided by local food trucks.”