Republican incumbent Mark LoGrippo faces Democratic challenger Jennifer Gilman in the race for the Third Ward seat on the Westfield Town Council. A candidates' forum is slated for Monday, Oct. 21, at the Municipal Building, 425 East Broad St. Voters go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

Name: Jennifer Gilman
Age: 39
Years in Westfield? 3
Party affiliation: Democrat

What are your qualifications for office? After graduating magna cum laude from Boston College, I became a public and private school teacher. Then as a legislative leader for Moms Demand Action, I met with lawmakers to fight for sensible gun reforms in Trenton. I tracked state and federal bills and led constituencies to help enact that legislation — making our communities safer. And when residents needed action on pedestrian safety in Ward 3, I pushed for solutions.

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I’m proactive, unafraid of our biggest challenges, and prepared to do the work ahead. I’m running to be your Ward 3 Councilwoman to get the jobs we’ve needed done — done.

What would your top priorities be if elected to the Town Council? Residents deserve Town leadership that actively champions and works to achieve the progress we need and have come to expect. As your Ward 3 Councilwoman, I will:

  • fight — tooth and nail — for peak one-seat rides and better service to NYC;
  • push for traffic and pedestrian safety improvements — like I did with the Beacon Light on South Avenue & Cacciola Place;
  • push for ordinances that preserve town character, while reducing tear-downs and subdivisions which cause overcrowding in our schools;
  • advocate for Master Plan recommendations that enhance our Southside businesses and parks, like Windsor.

What do you think the town should be doing to be fiscally responsible? The Town should scrutinize every dollar spent to ensure we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck, budget conservatively and retain ample surplus to maintain our AAA bond rating. We should be equally focused on maximizing revenue by regularly assessing our investments as interest rates fluctuate.

We need to continue making strategic investments in technology and infrastructure that drive efficiencies, like the Westfield Connect app, and enable online payments for all Town Services.

Westfield is the largest tax contributor to Union County; it’s imperative that we proactively seek all grant opportunities and take advantage of all county services and resources.

How would you work to benefit the business climate in Westfield? I’ll remain focused on issues that matter to Southside businesses, ensuring the Master Plan incorporates new ideas and solutions. Listening to business owners, patronizing their stores and being their champion to the broader community will remain among my priorities.

As Councilwoman, I’ll be their fiercest advocate to the Downtown Westfield Corporation, ensuring each business gets the attention it deserves and has the concerns they’ve shared with me addressed, like: enhanced streetscapes, improved pedestrian lighting and solutions to employee parking challenges.

The few apartment buildings under construction and set for completion within the next 1-2 years will bring welcomed foot traffic to our Southside businesses. However, they may also bring traffic and pedestrian safety concerns, which I will proactively address.

Is there anything else you would like the readers to know? In leading two Girl Scout Troops, producing the Jefferson Jubilee (our school’s largest fundraiser), and volunteering with the Green Team to clean up our open spaces. I’ve met so many neighbors with young kids like me, who will benefit from having our perspective represented on the Council. We all want Westfield to succeed and meet the needs of our future. We want Town leaders who recognize this, do the homework, show up with the facts and put in the work. I’m on it!

MORE: Submit Questions for the 2019 Westfield Town Council Forum

Name: Mark LoGrippo
Age: 51
Years in Westfield: 12
Party affiliation: Republican

What are your qualifications for office? Our neighbors know that they can count on me to deliver for them. Whether it’s working to keep residents informed amidst a crisis like Hurricane Sandy or helping to plant new trees in the aftermath, it’s always an honor to serve this community.

My pledge to community is also evident in my charitable work and volunteer service. For many years, I was a mentor for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City. I was also on Westfield’s Planning Board and am a member of the Westfield Y International Committee and Neighborhood Council Board.

Westfield deserves leadership that will put community before politics to get the job done.

What would your top priorities be if elected to the Town Council? As a father of two kids, and coach to many more, I will always prioritize keeping our children safe.

For many years, I’ve worked closely with our community to proactively advance public safety measures across Westfield; taking an evidence-based approach to addressing pedestrian and bike safety, identifying traffic flow patterns, and ensuring proper street lighting across town.

We must also make sure first responders have the resources they need to be effective. That is why I have supported proposals to hire new police officers and upgrade equipment for our firefighters.

What do think the town should be doing to be fiscally responsible? I believe local government has an obligation to practice fiscal responsibility. The resounding issue I hear from residents is cost of living. This year, I supported the 2019 budget with a 0% municipal tax increase. As former Vice Chair of the Finance Committee, I helped the Town earn a AAA credit rating from S&P, allowing Westfield to make capital improvements at a reduced cost. I believe there needs to be a careful balance between utilizing town resources and maintaining our surplus for a sustainable future.

How would you work to benefit the business climate in Westfield? Having access to direct peak trains and improving commuters’ experience is of the utmost importance for Westfield residents. As an active member of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, I have and will continue to advocate for this on behalf of Westfield. This past year, I also worked collectively with the Mayor on the new Master plan. I believe that better-quality transportation and improved parking options will boost opportunities for our businesses and downtown.

Is there anything else you would like the readers to know? I love being a Councilman because it’s a direct way to give back to the community. Over the past 8 years, I’ve spent countless hours walking the Third Ward, getting to know residents, and helping in any way that I can.

Westfield is our home, and we love this community. My wife and I couldn’t imagine raising our family anywhere else. That is why you can count on me to work with Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike to always put our community before politics.