Elections

Westfield's Mayoral Candidates Face Off at Forum

37e48571bbb2e0e15d3e_DSC_0601.JPG
Candidates for mayor and ward council seats participated in a candidates' forum Oct. 24. Left to right: Andy Skibitsky, Sam Della Fera, David Oliveira, Matthew Sontz, Moderator Lauren Barr, Keith Loughlin, Jack Walsh and Dave Haas. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
37e48571bbb2e0e15d3e_DSC_0601.JPG

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield candidates for mayor and ward council seats sounded off Thursday night at a forum sponsored by The Westfield Leader in conjunction with TV36. Lauren Barr of The Leader moderated.

The event culminated in a debate between the mayoral candidates; Republican Mayor Andy Skibitsky, who is running for a third term, and current Councilman Dave Haas, a Democrat.

Candidates were asked about the increase in tax appeals—Haas said he would like to ask the county to do a tax evaluation of homes in all of the towns, so that Westfield’s taxes were not increased unfairly.

Sign Up for E-News

Asked if he thought budget hearings and other committee meetings should return to public forum, Haas answered an emphatic, “Yes.” He also said that he would like liaisons to report to town committees, and publicly.

Skibitsky countered, “If you look at my record, I’m probably the most transparent mayor we’ve ever had.” He pointed out that he gives a yearly Power Point budget presentation and said that few residents come to it because “They trust us.”

Asked if he would officiate at weddings for gay couples, Skibitsky answered, “Today I performed Westfield’s first gay marriage."

Haas told the crowd he looked forward, if elected, to performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.

Both Haas and Skibitsky said they would not like to see red-light cameras installed in Westfield.

They spoke about Westfield’s preparedness for storms like Hurricane Sandy and the purchase of the mobile command center:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIJFIi3l3pc

Asked about term limits, Haas said he favored the tradition of two terms for mayor. “We need people who bring new energy, new ideas.” He spoke about the toll that the job takes, and said that Skibitsky missed 25 percent of town council meetings this year.

Skibitsky answered, “I’m opposed to limiting their choices in any way.” He said that Haas had missed10 percent of meetings, and that he sometimes missed meetings because he was attending to town business.

On the cost of the town’s legal fees, Skibitsky said that the town pays a competitive rate. Haas countered, “We don’t know if we get a good price because we’ve never requested proposals.”

Asked if the town should fight to lower county taxes and possibly secede from Union County, Haas said that town should try to get more back from the county by applying for more grants and appoint a liaison to the county freeholder board who would report back to the council.

“I am the liaison to Union County,” said Skibitsky. He said the town’s relationship with the county has improved under his leadership and added that, since he was elected mayor, “we’ve received $3.3 million in grants.”

In his closing statement, Has said there should be a clearly stated need for any capital purchases, that he will work for a one-seat ride on the Raritan Valley train line during peak hours, that he will join Mayors Against Illegal Guns and that he will make sure that firefighters have what they need.

Haas added that he was opposed to the mid-block HAWK light and crosswalk on Central Avenue. He concluded by saying that he would change the time set aside for "residents’ comments" during town council meetings to “residents’ questions and answers.”

Skibitsky told the room, “I volunteer because I love this town.”

 “It takes a proven leader to ensure the town continues in the right direction,” said Skibitsky. He listed accomplishments since he became mayor including, recently, securing a commitment to a one-seat ride during “shoulder-peak” hours. He added that, though Haas argued with him now, his opponent had voted with him 99 percent of the time.

The entire debate will be available for viewing on TV36 and on The Westfield Leader’s website, www.goleader.com.

To learn more about the candidates, visit our Candidates Statements section by clicking here.

To read about the first ward candidate’s remarks, click here. To read about the third ward candidates' debate, click here. To read about the fourth ward candidates' debate, click here. Republican Vicki Kimmins, running unopposed for re-election in the second ward, was absent from the forum.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Fanwood Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Mobile Meals of Westfield

April 22, 2018

FANWOOD, NJ  — At the Fanwood Borough Council meeting on Monday, April 16, Mayor Colleen Mahr read a resolution acknowledging Mobile Meals' 50th anniversary and presented it to volunteers Nancy Otchy and Josephine Walsh.

Mobile Meals, based in Westfield, delivers meals to thousands of area residents every day. The organization passed its one millionth meal delivery several ...

2018 Municipal Budget is on Collision Course with Principles of Financial Soundness & Stability

April 18, 2018

Having chaired the town council’s finance committee in the recent past, I appreciate the hard work that goes into developing a municipal budget for a town as large and dynamic as Westfield. But as I have expressed publicly and also to the mayor and my council colleagues, I do not support the adoption of Westfield’s 2018 municipal budget. Although the budget contains much that I ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, April 24, 4:00 PM

Westfield Memorial Library, Westfield

Westfield Memorial Library Spring Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_5307a8f625870288b3e9_best_79fa8c672d731919f994_tap_building

Tue, April 24, 7:00 PM

Westfield Municipal Building, Westfield

Westfield Town Council Meeting

Government

Tue, April 24, 7:30 PM

Westfield

Westfield Board of Education Meeting

Education

Westfield Police Blotter: Residence Burglarized & More

April 18, 2018

April 11, 2018 10:23 a.m.

Raymond Rodgers, 56, of Westfield, NJ was arrested in the area of E. Broad Street. Rodgers was arrested pursuant to an unrelated traffic investigation. Rogers was transported to Westfield Police HQ without incident. At WPD HQ, Rodgers was processed and released after posting the full bail amount ($250). Rodgers was arrested on the strength of an outstanding Westfield ...

Video: Point View's Petrides Talks AMEX, GE and Amazon Earnings, Stock Outlook

April 22, 2018

Point View Wealth Management's Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, John Petrides, live on FOX Business AM discussing several upcoming pivotal earnings and possible market reactions:

ptview.com/medias/tv-radio

​​​​For nearly 25 years, Point View Wealth Management, Inc. has been working with families in Summit and beyond, providing customized portfolio management ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Edison Students Participate in Beta Test of Google Augmented Reality App

Students and teachers at Edison Intermediate School participated in a recent beta test of a Google application that uses augmented reality technology to explore the inner workings of plant cells, the functions and framework of the human skeletal system, and other educational subjects.

Edison Media Specialist Andrew Cusumano arranged for a Google representative to visit the school on April 9 to ...

Get Your Home Ready for Summer Before its TOO HOT

Finally, the weather is getting warmer and you are shedding those down coats. Now is a great time to start thinking about summer and getting your home prepared. Paying attention to a few maintenance items can alleviate painful repairs later on if you wait too long. The line ahead of you will build as the summer rush starts. So, let’s not wait.

Check your roof   (hire the expert ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Hellenic Therapy Center

April 13, 2018

Dropping Off Our Kids At College – Learning How To Adjust

Hellenic Therapy Center

 

Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents.  There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child.  Feelings ...

Obituaries

Oct 21, 1944 - Apr 14, 2018
Kathleen A. Hertell passed away peacefully with family at her bedside on April 14, 2018. Loving ...
Read more

Mets Sign Patriots Pitcher Before He Can Unpack His Gear

April 20, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — The Somerset Patriots have announced that right-hand pitcher Scott Copeland’s contract has been purchased by the New York Mets.

So, instead of stretching out and getting in shape at TD Bank Ballpark, he's been sent to extended spring training at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The 6’3” righty broke into the big leagues in ...