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Letters to the Editor

Increasing VA Accountability & Economic Opportunity for Our Veterans This Memorial Day

May 22, 2015

Dear Friend, Memorial Day is a time when Americans pay tribute, honor and remember those who have served our country bravely and sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom and democracy. ...

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Today's Events

Police Blotter

Vehicle Reported Stolen in Westfield

May 20, 2015

May 19, 2015 5:49 p.m. Officers Popleik and Davis arrested Soncivae Brown, age 33, of Elizabeth for two outstanding warrants (total $973) out of Union Township municipal court to a motor ...

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Columns

Lindabury Legal Corner

Lindabury Participates In Red Nose Day 2015

On Thursday May 21, 2015 the attorneys and staff of Lindabury McCormick participated in Red Nose Day and raised money to provide assistance to children and young people in the United States living ...

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The Seventh District Congressional Report

The Seventh District Congressional Report

Congressman Lance is joined by Congressman Donald Payne Jr. to discuss business before the U.S. House of Representatives.  

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Point View WealthPoints

Soaring Dollar and Your Portfolio: What You Need to Know

Over the last year the Dollar has appreciated nearly 22% versus the world’s currencies.  With forecasts for continuing Dollar strength, what’s the next move for ...

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ViaNutrition

Mindful Eating Tips to Help with Health and Weight Loss

Everyone just wants to feel better, move better, look better and be happy.  Not always in that order but they all rank up there. How we get there is different for everyone. Coming off of a ...

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Westfield Area Y

New Local Mental Health Coaltion Launched

Stress, anxiety and depression are conditions that occur to all of us at various times.  Yet, there is a stigma attached to discussing mental health.  In recognition of Mental Health ...

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In the Schools

Westfield High School Senior Jorge Ledesma Named Presidential Scholar

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced the selection of Jorge Ledesma, a senior at Westfield High School, as a 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholar. Ledesma is one of 141 outstanding ...

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Connecting Commerce and Community

The Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce Introduces The Community Street map

The Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce will once again produce its Community Street Map, which includes all of our five towns--Fanwood, Garwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield. ...

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Monday with Millicent

Time to Eat at Fiamma Quimby Street, Westfield

The first Fiamma Restaurant opened about five months ago on the corner of Main and Essex Street in Millburn. Owned by brothers Tony Fetajak, Charlie, and Sam Magjuni, and their friend Sam Bek, ...

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Westfield's Mayoral Candidates Face Off at Forum

By JACKIE LIEBERMAN

October 24, 2013 at 11:27 PM

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.

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.