Elections

Westfield's Mayoral Candidates Face Off at Forum

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

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 Like

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Fanwood-Chelsea Nurse Finds Heartbreaking Conditions in Puerto Rico

October 18, 2017

FANWOOD, NJ — After spending a week in post-hurricane Puerto Rico, going door to door looking for survivors in need of medicine, treatment and even surgery, Dawn Shourt is left with troubling images of desperate people living on the edge.

“There’s a house we went in with a husband and wife, probably in their 70’s,” recalled Shourt, Regional Director of Health ...

Andy’s Gang

October 18, 2017

Back when I was a kid, television was in its infancy, actor Andy Devine hosted a TV show called “Andy’s Gang.” If I close my eyes, I can still picture the sponsor breaks, where the host would pause to present products that children like myself would later beg their parents to buy. (As a boy I, like most kids, made for easy targets of manipulation by this kind of direct ...

The Benefits of Implementing Bike Lanes

October 18, 2017

Dear Residents,

Campaigning for the Ward 2 Town Council seat in Westfield has been an incredible experience. I often find that the highlights are when I simply ask residents what’s on their minds. In just the last few weeks, I’ve listened to many who have voiced an interest in creating bike lanes throughout our town’s streets. I consider myself an avid cyclist, but was ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_406726001ccea6f98c7a_mini_magick20171006-2428-om1rr8

Wed, October 18, 7:30 PM

Westfield High School, Westfield

BOE Candidate’s Night

Education

Thu, October 19, 2:00 PM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

Retired & Senior Volunteer (RSVP) Information ...

Giving Back

Mon, October 23, 7:30 PM

First Congregational Church , Westfield

Faith & The Front Page

Religions And Spirituality

Union County Clerk Offers Extra Opening for Vote-By-Mail on Saturday, Nov. 4

October 18, 2017

Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi reminds Union County residents that the County Clerks’ Elections Office in Elizabeth and Westfield will be open for special hours on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., for anyone wishing to obtain an application for a Vote-By-Mail ballot in person.

“If desired, voters can apply for a Vote-by-Mail ballot, fill out ...

Westfield Police Blotter: Two Arrested in Bike Thefts, Car Reported Stolen & More

October 11, 2017

October 4, 2017 7:15 p.m.

A resident of the 100 block of Tudor Oval reported a theft of a bicycle. Victim stated that his daughter’s blue “Trek” bicycle was stolen by unknown actor(s) from a bicycle rack at the Westfield High School. This incident occurred on October 4, 2017 between 1:45 p.m. and 1:50 p.m.

 

October 4, 2017 6:58 p.m.

A resident of the 600 block ...

New Rate for Business Travel

If you or your employees are planning on traveling for business, you'll want to know that there are new per-diem rates for certain expenses, which are in effect from Oct. 1 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018.

 

New rates includes expenses for transportation industry meals and incidental expenses rates, among others.

 

What you need to know.

Dog Found in Westfield Monday

Dog found Monday morning at Dudley and Prospect. Taken to Westfield Police station. 

 

Tips Make Your Home Photo-Ready and Market-Worthy

You’re selling your home, or you’re starting to think about it, but your house hasn’t been updated or painted in years. You want it to look its best before presenting it to prospective buyers, but you don’t know where to begin.

Home Staging Tips
Sprucing up your home can be as simple as adding a new coat of paint, inside and out, or as extensive as interior renovation ...

Westfield 6th Grader Named Jets ‘Upstander of the Week’

Jackson Dowden, 6th grader at Edison Intermediate School in Westfield, has been selected the New York Jets Tri-State Upstander of the Week.  

Christine Cabrales, physical education teacher who nominated Jackson, stated, “Jackson was nominated by the Edison Physical Education staff because he influences people in a positive way. He proves that he is a role model for ...

Establishing, Revising And Enforcing Time-Sharing With Children

In all cases of divorce or separation where children are involved, the issue of time-sharing (previously referred to as “visitation”) is a significant issue to be addressed.  Unless the parents have agreed to an equal shared custodial arrangement, an appropriate schedule of time-sharing is particularly important for all those involved: the custodial parent, the non-custodial ...

Saving for Higher Education Part 2 – What is your savings strategy?

Most people want to save for their children’s education but what is the best strategy? 

There are three different savings strategies from which you can choose: 

1)         save for 100% of all education costs so that your child has no liability

2)         save a specific dollar amount and ...

Family Health

Second Opinion on Breast Cancer Program Offers Peace of Mind

A breast cancer diagnosis can change a person’s life. And during such devastating news, the sheer amount of information regarding treatment and follow-up care can quickly become overwhelming. However, patients are not alone in this fight. Atlantic Health System’s Breast Cancer Second Opinion Program at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Overlook Medical Center, is helping provide peace of ...

Westfield Area YMCA Announces Fall 2 Session Registration

Registration for the Westfield Area YMCA Fall 2 session program registration begins at 6:00pm on Thursday, Oct. 12 for Full members and at 7:30 a.m., Monday Oct.16 for Basic and Non-Members. The Fall 2 Session runs from Oct. 29 to Dec. 23.

Youth basketball league season is gearing up at the Y with a 3-week pre-season ...

What is Co-Dependency? Learn How to Establish Healthy Boundaries

October 15, 2017

JOIN OUR NEW GROUP

Mondays October 23 at 6:30 or Wednesday’s October 25 at 1:00 p.m.

Codependence is a false attachment to a person, place or thing. It becomes a false sense of importance. It is a learned behavior to take care of others’ needs at the expense of our own. It is driven by the excessive need for others’ approval.  Rather than being ...

'The Honeymooners' smart, snappy production

Smart, sassy production of ‘The Honeymooners’ takes off at Paper Mill

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – “And away we go” indeed. The creative team at the Paper Mill Playhouse has taken the seeds of “The Honeymooners” from 1950’s television and turned it into a smart, snappy musical.

Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton are still up to their get-rich-quick ...

Obituaries

Oct 24, 1926 - Aug 14, 2017
Elizabeth H. List, 90, of Westfield and Cape May, NJ, died peacefully surrounded by her family ...
Read more

Video: Firefighters Battle Five-Alarm Blaze in North Plainfield

October 17, 2017

NORTH PLAINFIELD — Firefighters continue to battle a five-alarm fire that began in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the vacant Villa Maria facility at 641 Somerset Street. At 10 a.m. the fire was still burning and fire companies were being rotated, continuing to operate by hitting hot spots of active fire, authorities said.

Somerset Street South was closed and ...