CALDWELL, NJ -
Name: Ann Dassing
Current Occupation: Public Relations Consultant
Education: Immaculate Conception High School of Montclair, NJ; Caldwell University, BA in Art
Family: Spouse: Gene Dassing, Jr. Children: Gene III - Oratory Prep High School; MA from NJIT School of Architecture and Katherine, JCHS; Cabrini College, BS in Marketing
Years Lived in Caldwell: 27 years
Q: Why are you running for Mayor again?
A: To continue to effect a positive change in a town that I love by keeping taxes low, improving services and to make it possible for seniors to age in place and younger families to stay here and raise their families.
Q: Why do you feel you deserve the job? What qualifies you for it?
A: I have ten years experience in local government, having been elected to two three year terms on Council and one four year term as the Mayor. I have achieved the Main St New Jersey certification from the state of New Jersey and have taken many courses on local government at the Rutgers Bloustein School, at my own expense. I have served on budget committees, started shared services committees with other entities such as local towns and Boards of Education, and am a founding member of the Caldwell-West Caldwell Education Foundation and I reinstated the Caldwell Merchants Association. I created the Mayors’ Legacy for Literacy event and raised $52,000 to support the Caldwell Library.
I am a self-starter and have shown I can work with residents who have ideas and energy to implement them for the good of Caldwell. Through many hours of negotiations with the Federal government, I was able to obtain the 14 Park Ave. building for Caldwell, by shifting the use to the Deptartment of Health and Human services. The Caldwell Food Pantry and Bridge Counseling services are currently using the building. After 30 years a title will be turned over to the Borough and the property will be ours solely. Currently, the Federal government is letting us use the property at no cost to the Borough.
Q: What other issues are important?
A: Public safety is of utmost importance to me, and to that end, I have overseen the installation of new water mains throughout much of the Borough where the mains were calcified and not in proper working order to fight a fire. I have, with the help of the Caldwell Volunteer Fire Department members, instituted high rise safety seminars in the lobbies of our high rise apartment buildings, and this year, we created a local Fire Official position, and the office is staffed by a 30 year veteran fire fighter. This puts inspections on the local level thus increasing our safety in multi-family dwellings.
Another issue is the maintenance of the excellent quality of life in residential zones . We have been addressing that by purchasing properties and maintaining them as open space for the residents. The latest acquisition is on Personnette St. that will soon become a pocket park for all to enjoy.
Q: How do you feel about property taxes in Caldwell? Please explain.
A: Property taxes can put an undue burden on our residents and I have tried to reduce our portion of the tax by introducing the lowest budgets possible. I have successfully introduced zero percent increases to our budget in two of the four years of my administration and I will continue to look for ways to remain fiscally responsible and spend only when necessary.
Q: Name one item you would reduce or cut in the township budget and explain why.
A: Our health care costs continue to rise and I am currently looking at ways that we might reduce those costs by obtaining competitive bids for this employee and retiree benefit.
Q: Tell us about your other career.
A: I have owned my own business for 28 years and as such, have provided public relations, management and fundraising services to area nonprofits. I have made it a priority to keep my services affordable and have been able to help many nonprofits spread the word about their services either through events, news stories and community announcements.
Q: What else would you like to say?
A: I am truly humbled by the support that Caldwell residents have shown by electing me as their Mayor in 2010 and I hope that I will get the chance to continue for a second term, to finish projects that I have started and to keep Caldwell moving forward.