WEST ORANGE, NJ -  TAP into West Orange presents a series of articles from the seven Township Council Candidates. Each candidate was asked the same four questions. The opinions of the candidates are their own. The first candidate to be profiled is Robert Hoatson.

How long have you lived in West Orange and what type of involvement have you had?

I have lived in West Orange for nearly 25 years, and my involvement in the town includes the following information:

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a)      I lived in the Tory section of West Orange as a child, left to pursue various careers, and returned within the past ten years to the 57 year-old family home on top of the second mountain in town.  I have engaged in various service projects for our residents, including snow removal for between ten and twelve homes on Morris Road every time it snows and helping the elderly with a number of services in the neighborhood.

b)      I attended elementary school in West Orange (St. Joseph’s graduating class of 1966)) where I served as an altar boy, cub and boy scout, and performed on stage at Symphony Hall, Newark as a sixth grader in the opera Carmen.  In the eighth grade, I was a “lead” in a radio performance of Peter Pan on the Seton Hall University radio station.  I also played basketball, baseball, and intramural football at St. Joseph’s School.

c)      I was born into two strong West Orange families, the O’Connors and Hoatsons.  The O’Connor family served the town in a number of capacities for decades.  Martin O’Connor, my grandfather, was a West Orange Policeman.  My aunts worked for the town, my mother lived in town for approximately 80 years, and my father lived in town for over 60 years.  My father, Archie Hoatson, built and renovated several West Orange homes and worked for years in conjunction with the town’s building department.  He was involved in several political campaigns and he mentored me in the ways of politics.

d)     As a young teenager, I worked as a caddy and “starter” at Essex County Country Club West Course.  I also worked at Cohen’s Knishes (next to Starlite Pizzeria) and learned much about the restaurant business. 

e)      My siblings, Richard, Thomas, and Patricia attended public schools in West Orange and were standouts in soccer (Thomas), football, baseball, and basketball (Richard), and business subjects and color guard (Patricia).  I attended many of their games and events as a supporter.

f)       I was a regular and faithful participant in the summer recreation programs at Stagg Field, Mt. Pleasant School, and Fairmount Park.  I attended the July 4th races and fireworks at Colgate Field nearly every year of my childhood and teenage years.

g)      I worked with recreation department worker John Rooney who became a mentor to me in basketball and basketball officiating.  I supervised night basketball sessions at Mt. Pleasant School.

h)      I took out many books from the West Orange Library bookmobile as a child.

i)        I have regularly voted in West Orange elections and attend (or watch on television) most meetings of the Town Council and Board of Education

j)        West Orange is the home of my current business, Road to Recovery, Inc., a 501 c 3 non-profit charity that assists victims of sexual abuse and their families.

k)      My siblings William, Thomas, and I continue to live in West Orange and contribute taxes and services to the town.  William’s business was in town for several years and Thomas is an officer of the Thomas Edison Museum.

Are you running with a mayoral candidate?  If so, why?

I am running as an independent candidate with no connection to a mayoral candidate.  I believe I am the only Town Council candidate who is not aligned with a mayoral candidate.

What qualifications do you possess to be elected to the Town Council?

I have the following qualifications to be a Town Council member:

a)      A well-rounded education, including degrees in English, Educational Administration and Leadership.

b)      Extensive experience in leading institutions and schools.  I was the Assistant to the President of a major United States textbook company and was involved in sales, writing, and marketing.

c)      I was Principal or Director of schools in two States.

d)     I am a national champion in high school speech and debate.

e)      I have served on State and Federal boards and committees involved with allocation of funds to universities and statewide exams.

f)       I have been a taxpayer in West Orange and am very familiar with Town Council meetings.  I have also participated in several political campaigns in town for many years.

g)      I have been very active in attempts to change the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse and testified before legislative committees in the States of New Jersey, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania.

What do you consider to be the 3 most important issues facing the municipal government, and what are your solutions?

A)    Edison and downtown redevelopment – I believe we need to work with Prism Developers to expedite the development of the Edison site, convince Prism to pay its taxes on time, and remind Prism regularly that it is in partnership with the Town in developing the Edison site.  The Edison site must be developed in a timely manner before urban blight in that area expands and causes further deterioration in the ambiance of our downtown.

B)    Taxes and commercial development – I believe we need to attract and bring businesses to our town in order to add revenues to the tax base so that we might be able to hold taxes at reasonable levels.

C)    Public safety – the West Orange Police Department must have the personnel, resources, and equipment to keep the people of West Orange safe.  As a town that is bisected by a major highway, it is vulnerable to “hit and run” robberies and other such crimes.  Public safety must never be compromised.