CALDWELL, NJ — Meet Caldwell Borough Council candidate Thomas O’Donnell.
Thomas O’Donnell, a 20-year Caldwell resident, is the father two kids: Kelsey, a James Caldwell High School alumna and recent graduate of NYU, and Sean, a Longwood University graduate with two daughters of his own. His wife, Kelly, a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic, has been his “better half” for 24 years. O’Donnell, a native of Lowell, Massachusetts and graduate of the University of Lowell Mass, is a Partner and Project Manager at Henschel-Steinau Retail Marketing Solutions seeking re-election to the Caldwell Borough Council in November.
Q: Why are you running for borough council again?
A: I am looking to maintain and advance the progress and positive changes we have made over the last several years. Since I first took my seat in 2011, Caldwell has become safer, cleaner and much more fiscally sound.
Q: Why do you feel you deserve the job? What qualifies you for it?
A: In my six years of council experience, my largest accomplishment by far was introducing and executing two municipal budgets that resulted in a 0 percent increase to our municipal taxes. Let me reiterate, a 0 percent increase.
While we have no control or influence over school or county tax increases, being able to help the people of Caldwell avoid the dramatic municipal tax increases seen in other townships is incredibly rewarding. I feel this proves not only my competence but my dedication to this community.
Q: How do you feel about property taxes in your town?
A: Simply put, our taxes are currently too high, particularly those levied by the board of education and county, which make up 70 percent of your property tax bills. These high rates will eventually erode the property values our community has worked hard to achieve. While I support quality education for our children, I also prefer tax expenditures that are both smart and efficient. Trenton must be a driver of any real, meaningful changes, but myself and the current council have at least done our part to keep the municipal portion of the bill flat.
Q: Name one item you would reduce or cut in the township budget and explain why.
A: I have made many cuts to achieve two 0-percent budgets, and I’ve also renegotiated contracts to reduce costs while maintaining efficient services for the town. I would face next term’s township budget with the same attitude.
The municipal portion of our property taxes accounts for only 30 percent of Caldwell’s tax bills. Trenton must address their formula for sending tax money back to certain towns, because we cannot be expected to continue to subsidize Newark and other large cities with our community’s tax dollars.
Q: Tell us about your other career.
A: I am a partner and project manager for Henschel-Steinau, a best-in-class retail and marketing solutions provider to Fortune 100 companies. In my professional life, I establish and execute budgets, timelines, and goals for various projects. I bring almost 30 years of professional business experience to Caldwell.