Name: John Cascarano
Current Occupation: Attorney at New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Open Space Committee Member, Borough of Caldwell
Education: BA from Montclair State University, JD from Seton Hall University of Law
Q: Why are you running for Town Council?
A: I’ve long known Caldwell to be a safe, beautiful town, with great schools and a reputation for being a strong community. Quite simply, I would like to do my part to make sure that it remains that way and improves. I am a take-charge, do-it-myself type of person. I enjoy being involved in and having a say in things that matter most to me. That is exactly what I am doing by running.
Q: Why do you feel you deserve the job? What qualifies you for it?
A: I have an array of experience both in the private sector and working with and in State and local governments. I know what needs to be done to make government function competently, efficiently and affordably. I am a trial lawyer by training, having spent several years at the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office; this law enforcement background affords me a unique insight to work with our police and ensure public safety. I know how to deal with difficult situations, and understand the value of listening to people, negotiation and compromise. My professional experiences are overall very diverse, and helped me build a broad skill-set that can be applicable to many situations. I understand that problems (be it crime, budget gaps, or trash pickup) don’t wait for business hours. If on the Council, I will make myself readily accessible to everyone.
Q: What other issues are important?
A: We are fortunate to have a beautiful downtown district that is easily accessible. The downtown and its small businesses are an integral part of our community and economy. We should share a commitment to do whatever possible to ensure the downtown continues to thrive and improve. If elected, I will strive to attract a diverse set of businesses to the downtown, encourage foot traffic and local shopping, and keep the infrastructure up to date and clean.
Q: How do you feel about property taxes in Caldwell? Please explain.
A: Property taxes in Essex County are already among the highest in the State and Nation. Since Mayor Dassing began her administration, she’s done a wonderful job of halting their growth without a detriment to services. This was on the heels of a several year period in which rates skyrocketed. I understand that taxes are a necessary evil in order to allow government to function and provide services, but increases should be the exception, not the rule. I find even tacit statements of intent to raise taxes quite troubling, as should any taxpayer. Part of the reason young parents choose Caldwell is because of its affordable cost of living relative to its fantastic schools and services. We should be focused on continuing to find creative ways to keep the taxes under control, rather than taxing people out of town.
Q: What else would you like to say?
A: I am a lifelong Essex County resident, and when it became time for my wife and I to purchase a house and choose where we would root our family, we chose Caldwell. From the get-go, I was motivated to become involved in the community, serving on the Open Space Committee for nearly two years. We have recently become blessed with a 4-month-old baby daughter, and are here for the long haul -- literally with skin in the game. If elected, I will work tirelessly to make sure that Caldwell remains safe, affordable and with a strong education system and sense of community.