This article has been published as part of a series of profiles on Caldwell Borough Council Candidates. All candidates will be featured individually during the week leading up to the November 2019 election.
CALDWELL, NJ — Meet Jeff Gates, a Caldwell resident vying for a seat on the Caldwell Borough Council in the upcoming election on Nov. 5.
Jeff Gates, a graduate of Roxbury High School and Ithaca College, currently works as a realtor. He moved to Caldwell as a tenant in 2017 and purchased a two-family home in early 2019 with his wife, Lisa.
Q: Why are you running for borough council?
A: My wife and I actually met when some mutual friends organized a get together at Cloverleaf back in 2011. So I can relate to the needs of the town from the out of town visitor, tenant, homeowner, and landlord perspective. Understanding the reasons why each segment of the population comes to town is key in properly addressing issues such as parking, which causes headaches for many, especially tenants in older apartment buildings that don’t have enough spaces.
Q: What do you believe is the most important issue in this local election? How would you change it?
A: The most important issue Caldwell is facing are addressing the aging and neglected infrastructure. The sanitary sewer system hasn’t had upgrades since the 1960’s, the stormwater management needs to be addressed, the municipal building has a multitude of issues, and the parking deck problems are well documented. The Borough needs to establish 1, 5, 10, and 20 year plans for addressing these issues as they can’t all be addressed at once. Reviewing the INI study, parking study, and having a stormwater management study will allow priorities to be set and a full plan to be put into place to bring the infrastructure into the 21st century.
Q: Do you believe Caldwell would benefit from more shared services with surrounding communities?
A: Caldwell and West Caldwell have been negotiating the possible merging of the police departments. While information has not yet been released on how that would work, if the state shared service experts who are part of the negotiations can help formulate a plan that would maintain the same level of services, response times, and provide significant tax savings, I think it would be a no brainer.
The potential of saving $1 million off of Caldwell’s $13 million annual budget would provide an opportunity to repair and upgrade Borough infrastructure without needing to raise property taxes.
Additionally, while current talks are only with West Caldwell, I see no reason why we shouldn’t also discuss with other neighboring towns the savings of a merged police force as well, provided there is a plan to maintain the same levels of service and safety.
Q: Tell us about your professional career and/or other ways you are involved in town?
A: I am a real estate agent, so I understand what will provide value to maintain and increase property values. I also have previous property management experience which allows me to understand budgeting and establishing maintenance and capital improvement schedules, which will be important in addressing our infrastructure issues.
I am currently a member of the Caldwell / West Caldwell Kiwanis, and was previously a board member for Team Charity, a non-profit that organized and encouraged young professionals to volunteer.
Q: What else would you like to say about Caldwell?
A: My wife and I fell in love with Caldwell because of its uniqueness. There are not many North Jersey towns with a walkable downtown that still have a small town feel. There is a lot of history for a town of this size, and I hope to embrace that history while helping lead us into the future.