(Editor's Note: The Alternative Press received this statement from Mr. Hawkins on May 7.)
"I am happy that the long overdue decision as to whether Robert Parisi will run for re election has finally been made. I hope his hesitation to announce or ambivalence thus far is not an indication of his lack of passion and enthusiasm for the job. Certainly, it's important for residents to have a representative who is sure he wants to serve and provide voters as much time as possible to compare and contrast the candidates.
Under the current administration, each month that passes more of us in West Orange are becoming victims of crime or are becoming more fearful for the safety of our loved ones. The truth is we are less safe.
According to the most recent available FBI Uniform Crime Report, West Orange Burglaries increased 53% in 2011 and went up 13% in 2012 compared to 2010 when Parisi became Mayor (link to stats found below). This is in stark contrast to our neighbors in South Orange who experienced a decrease of 30% in burglaries during the same 2 year period. Further, while Mayor of a neighboring community my administration had a 39% decrease in burglaries during the same time period in 2012 when compared to 2010 (stats below). As such, I have a track record of success in keeping our families safe.
These very real crime problems facing our West Orange community are just the tip of the iceberg. In recent years our once peaceful town has even seen a continuous stream of motor vehicle thefts and homicides, something almost unheard of when I was growing up in WO. This must be stopped.
The increase in crime, failed redevelopment on Main Street and the reality that West Orange has the 7th highest taxes in the state did not happen overnight. In fact they accrued over the last 15 plus years of the Parisi/Sayers administration as Mr. Parisi enabled tax increases year after year both as Mayor and a member of the Township Council.
We don't need four more years of the mismanagement that has left the Edison battery factory abandoned on Main Street and our community less safe.
As one who was raised in West Orange and is a former Mayor with an MBA in management from Seton Hall University, I have a unique vision for our town. My background and education gives me both home grown and hands on experience as a chief executive, which is necessary to effectively reduce crime and control taxes where the current administration has failed.
I am running for mayor of WO to make a difference and improve our quality of life. As such, many other residents and I look forward to a spirited campaign on the issues and an opportunity to bring forth fresh ideas and progress for our town.