CALDWELL, NJ — Meet John Kelley, Democratic mayoral candidate for the Borough of Caldwell.
Kelley, a 20-year resident of Caldwell, is a certified public accountant who is currently employed as a controller for a New York City-based company that owns parking garages in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. He was born in Oklahoma and was raised between Texas and Pennsylvania. Kelley, who has a degree in accounting from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh is married to Susan and his two children, Johnny and Meredith. His children, both college graduates, were educated locally at Trinity Academy, St. Peter’s Preparatory School and Mount St. Dominic Academy.
“My wife and I are so thankful we found Caldwell for our family,” said Kelley. “The sense of community is real and our family found happiness here and we know that we are not alone.”
Q: Why are you running for mayor?
A: I am running for mayor of Caldwell because I see a desperate need for leadership. Caldwell is a wonderful, beautiful place to live and raise a family and yet there is so much more the borough can become with the right kind of mayor and governing body. I know that the current administration love the town as much as I do, but there is something lacking in how they have managed the affairs as a governing body. Timely execution of decisions is something you learn in the business world and there is no sense of urgency by our current leadership. So that is why I am running and relish the opportunity to jump into this role alongside my running mates Frank Rodgers and Christine Schmidt.
Q: Why do you feel you deserve the job? What qualifies you for it?
A: Two reasons: My very extensive experience in the business world working first in public accounting and then industry managing the financial health of multiple organizations. I intend on leveraging that experience in maintaining the financial health of Caldwell. We have an opportunity to move to the next level of growth in which most communities try to position themselves and it is important to have the right person leading.
Q: How do you feel about property taxes in Caldwell? Please explain.
A: I don’t feel very good about them. How could anyone living in Caldwell who pays property taxes feel otherwise. There are three components to our tax bill (county, education, and borough). The only control I will have as mayor is the borough portion. Therefore, I need to focus on cost reduction and revenue generation. There is waste. The consolidation of our public works with West Caldwell has to happen and my plan is to sign an agreement in 2019 with the West Caldwell governing body to put the wheels in motion for that to happen. The short term and long term goals need to remain the same. Improved services with cost reduction. Our community center can improve it’s bottom line. My focus will be on membership. All of the above, in addition to the police department requires attention.
Q: Name one item you would reduce or cut in the municipal budget and explain why.
A: I will not be receiving health insurance for my part time position as mayor. That alone will save the residents of Caldwell $20,000/year. A part time position does not warrant receiving health insurance whether you are eligible or not. Another cost reduction will occur with a reorganization of the community center, which I intend on doing the first day in office.
Q: Tell us about your other career.
A: I have worked for a company who owns parking garages in the New York City metro area. The ownership, leasing and management of parking facilities is the core business of this company for the last 50 years. Although the parking needs in NYC are different from Caldwell, there are vast similarities, which I intend on leveraging. Commercial and residential needs here are restrained due to lack of parking. People wanting to invest or reside in Caldwell view the inability to park their vehicles as an impediment to making a decision to invest in a business either as a property owner/developer of a family wanting to live in and near the downtown area.
Editor's Note: This article was published as part of a series to be published on each of the mayoral and council candidates over the next week, pending their response.