Viewpoint: National Elections, Local Politics and Business: Caldwell Councilman Looks at This Year’s Unique Election Cycle

Caldwell Councilman Richard Hauser Credits: Borough of Caldwell

CALDWELL, NJ – How much will the national elections affect localities this year? While commentators debate the pros and cons of one candidate over another, Caldwell Councilman Richard Hauser (R) feels the impact of this year’s presidential election will be felt on regional and local levels in a variety of ways.

Even without some of the larger-than-life candidates, Hauser feels one positive impact this year’s vote will have will be increasing the number of people who will actually go to the polls.

“I think that in terms of the election in Caldwell in November, that can and will be affected by the national election,” said Hauser. “The turnout last year was 17 or 18 percent, so I would hope that there are more people that will turn out to vote.”

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Traditionally, years with presidential elections find more people going to the polls than other years. But Hauser sees another impact from this year’s campaign: local businesses are watching what’s happening with a more direct view of how it will affect them personally.

Hauser's day job is providing financial services for companies large and small. He doesn’t see his business feeling a major impact from the national elections, but through networking he has come into contact with a number of businesses where that question has been raised.

He says the answers came from a variety of angles.

“An attorney who represents those in the LGBT community said the concern in that space is that if Trump is elected, that would set the things that have happened back from where they are now,” Hauser said.

In the real estate space, Hauser says his contacts work with people looking for homes who were coming from Europe and who had a concern about what’s happening in this election.

“What if so and so got elected?,” they asked, according to Hauser.

Hauser said one of the side effects of the 2016 election cycle is the attention it has received as it unfolded, and in some cases, collapsed.

“It was encouraging (to me) when it started with 13 people debating (on the Republican side), lots of ideas, experience...I’m just not happy with the way things have turned out,” he said. “It’s ironic: 90 percent of the people I’ve spoken to feel the same way as me.”

Now that the process is almost over, Hauser feels the next step is trying to deal with the divide that both parties, but especially Republicans, have created.

“I think it is a problem that Republicans in general have to come to terms with,” he said.

Now in his seventh year on the Caldwell Borough Council, Hauser said he is grateful that level of divide is not evident in Caldwell, although it was a bit rancorous for a while.

“I had really done nothing political until I ran for council,” he said. “I’m a pretty moderate person, fiscally conservative.”

But he also said that early on after his election, Council meetings were often “a bit ugly at times.”

It’s possible that national politicians could learn something from Caldwell.

“One of the things that is very healthy is some open debate and discussion, but not when it is loud and obnoxious,” he said, adding that since his early council days, the council has been "trying to do it in a more civil way. Long meetings can be a bit painful, but it can be very lively.” 

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