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 second 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 2: What is Wayne doing at a municipal level to address climate change?
Karen Dowicz-Haas of Ward Three answered first: “I wish I knew,” she said. “I’m worried about a lot of the environmental issues because of climate change. We have a climate crisis. Governor Murphy has a plan to make us carbon-neutral I think we have to point ourselves in that direction and try to get there.”
Ward Four Candidate Christian Smith spoke next but did not truly address the question. He talked about the amount of litter in the streams and the side of the road and said: “I would initiate a way of cleaning that up quickly and beautifying Wayne.”
“The issue of climate change is a very complex issue,” said Joe Scuralli of Ward Four. “The idea that Wayne Township Council is going to solve climate change is a little bit unrealistic”. Scuralli then turned the question to pollution and spoke of the town’s investment in new equipment, and vehicles, which all have the latest technology and efficient engines. He talked about investments in roofing projects, and heating and air-conditioning upgrades. “We are very much focused on this issue. Energy efficiency, which means the least waste is something we always concentrate on.”
“We have to have an exchange of ideas regarding climate change for the future of Wayne, especially since our rivers flood during severe storms,” said Ward Four Candidate, Ken Tahan, though he gave no ideas of his own. “There is no mention of climate change on our Wayne township website. Why Not?” he said. Tahan finished by reading a quote from Bill Gates about climate change.
Ward Five Candidate Fran Ritter said that the current town council has not admitted to climate change, as she sees no mention of it in any of the township materials or on their website. She then mentioned: “This council has been asked repeatedly what materials were used in the construction of the new police center. What kind of materials were used? The roof: Is it an impervious surface? What about the roads? Is it impervious? Does it soak up the water? What happens to the runoff that goes off into our rivers and endangers our water quality? We don’t really see them addressing this issue at all.”
When Aileen Rivera of Ward Five spoke, she said: “I’m not running for national office. We all have opinions on national matters, but it’s not relevant here. I’m here to discuss how I can impact the Fifth Ward.” Rivera did say that climate change is a big problem, mentioning how China and India are two of the biggest polluters. “It’s a worldwide problem, but I’m here just to discuss township matters.
Al Sadowski of Ward Two answered next saying: “I think there are a lot more pressing issues for residents of the Second Ward, besides Climate change, though it’s an important topic.” He then spoke about Wayne’s “aggressive” recycling program and mentioned that the more important issue was: “People being able to afford to stay and live in Wayne Township.” Sadowski then said that it was the high taxes levied by Passaic County that was the cause.
Of all the answers given to this question that night, Dianne Douthat of Ward Two actually listed ideas. “We need to work with the Rutgers cooperative extension,” she said. “They can help us to take this costly problem of stormwater, capture it, filter it and re-use it and make it a valuable resource. We can do this through green infrastructure projects: green roofs, blue roofs, rain gardens, water retention systems, more trees to beautify our town and more permeable surfaces. Why don’t we have solar panels on this new roof,” she said pointing above her. “It would save us money and make our air cleaner too. It’s a win-win.”
Ward Three Councilman Franco Mazzei said: “There is significant input by our personnel into these considerations.” He spoke of the lead engineer, the business administrator, the companies and personnel involved who have vetted the equipment purchased and the materials used in all the projects by the town. “There is considerable thought regarding it, as well as the enforcement of zoning and building ordinances by our respective departments,” he said.
In her emailed answers to TAPinto Wayne, Ward One Candidate Arlene Sullivan said: “It seems to me that the first thing Wayne can do is admit there is climate change happening. I believe we should do as much as possible to protect our environment and ultimately the quality of life for all. This can be done by preserving more undeveloped land into Open Space, looking into the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles, exploring and expanding opportunities for solar energy, encouraging the use of vehicle charging stations. We could be an example by using environmentally friendly building materials in any future town renovations.”