WEST ORANGE, NJ -- The race for West Orange Township Council officially got another participant as Monica Perkowski officially launched her campaign on June 20.

Perkowski is the third candidate to launch a campaign for the three council seats open for the 2016 election. Incumbents Michelle Casalino and Jerry Guarino have also announced their campaigns, and fellow incumbent Joe Krakoviak has indicated he is also running.

Friend Rich McDonald introduced Perkowski to the gathering at the Starlite Restaurant and Pizzeria as someone who wants to "get involved." McDonald quoted Perkowski as saying, "I want people not involved in politics to understand why I am doing this," and noted that was what made her a unique candidate, bringing "a new approach, a fresh set of eyes" to the Township Council.

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Perkowski answered the question of "Why me?" by continuing that thought of a fresh approach. "Innovation is crucial" she said of her independent bid, a theme repeated throughout her statements. 

The candidate is a life-long resident of West Orange, and among her accomplishments she jokingly noted was her first attempt at running for office, for fifth grade student council, with her motto: "Perk Up with Perkowski." 

Getting more serious, she called the township "a wonderfully diverse, eclectic community," adding, "I believe we have a responsibility to lend our unique skill sets to keep it thriving." Perkowski said her 15 year background in marketing, six years of experience with the West Orange First Aid Squad, 13 years with Relay for Life and 4 years with the Domestic Violence Reponse Team gave her the base to approach problems head on with innovation and new ideas.

"The West Orange of today is different from the West Orange I knew 40 years ago, and I appreciate those who have introduced us to moving in the right direction, and I'm seeking the opportunity to join that team," she noted.

Perkowski concluded with an observation that the mayor and council members cannot come up with all the ideas alone, "I commit to you an open mind. I'm certainly not suggesting I have all the answers, and I encourage you to reach out to me directly with your ideas and your insights so we can all can continue to improve the town we all love."

Attending the evening were Mayor Rob Parisi, Councilmembers Michelle Casalino, Susan McCartney and Jerry Guarino, Board of Education president Laura Lab and BOE member Sandra Mordecai, Campaign Manager Kevin Brady and Perkowski's family and friends, including her husband Jim Williamson, of whom she jokingly said, "who did not know after one year of marriage I would be gone every night of the week."