Campaign Forum ’98
GAINING SUPPORT...Fanwood Borough Councilwoman Karen Schurtz and her Democratic runningmate Kathy Mitchell candidates for the Fanwood Borough Council, recently received contributions from Political Action Committee share funds of the Greater Union County Association of Realtors. On hand for the presentation of the check, left to right, were: Patricia Plante of Fanwood, a Realtor Associate with Burgdorff-ERA in Westfield; Mary Ellen O’Boyle, Chairwoman of the Realtor Political Action Committee; Roger Love, President of the Greater Union County Association of Realtors; Ms. Mitchell and Councilwoman Schurtz. The campaign funds are made possible through Realtors Political Action Committee collections from members of the local Board of Realtors and the New Jersey Association of Realtors to candidates who they feel will further the interests of the real estate community, as a whole. Noreen Lund Enters Final
Phase of Her Campaign
WESTFIELD — Noreen Lund, Republican candidate the Third Ward Westfield Town Council seat, entered into the final phase of her campaign this week by emphasizing the reasons she is seeking her first elective office and by outlining her plans if she is elected.
“I have lived on the south side of Westfield all my life. I grew up in the Third Ward. My parents, Tony and
Mildred Bianco, were life-long residents until my father retired from his business, Colonial Barbershop, on East Broad Street.
“I believe I understand the challenges facing the Third Ward more intensely than any other candidate simply because I have such a long perspective of where we have been,” the candidate said.
Ms. Lund pointed to the major transportation arteries on the south side of town as requiring special attention from the Third Ward Town Council member.
“The Westfield Train Station has undergone this wonderfu1 restoration, but, unfortunately, the neglect of South Avenue is more apparent. The flower beds and plants surrounding the parking area should be updated and maintained to enhance the new exterior. However, the only way any of these improvements will occur is if the Third Ward Council
member makes them his/her priority,” the candidate stated.
Central Avenue, Ms. Lund emphasized, is an even sadder story.
“Central Avenue is a ‘gateway’ to Westfield, yet there is no detailed plan to help rejuvenate this critical asset. Look how much the area improved just by repainting the railroad underpass. I have worked with the residents in the area to use the Exterior Property Maintenance Code, to help address some of the deteriorated conditions of buildings on Central Avenue.
“If I am elected on November 3, I will work with local businesses, landlords, and residents to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to redevelop these areas. This effort would benefit everyone,” Ms. Lund noted.
The candidate observed that as the central business district (CBD) completed its evolution, with national chain stores, the South Avenue and Central Avenue shopping area seems to be picking up more of the traditional shops.
“Part of the Third Ward’s charm is the local flavor of the bakeries, merchants, coffee shops, and services that cater to so many of the day-today needs of Westfield. Clearly the redevelopment of the CBD is critical, but now the town’s attention should shift to the South and Central Avenues.
“It is simply a matter of equity, and if I am elected I will make sure that this area becomes the priority that it should be,” the candidate stated.
If elected, Ms. Lund vowed to make Westfield town government work for everyone in the Third Ward.
“I work as a substitute nurse in the Westfield schools. I am in Westfield everyday. Therefore, I can meet with local officials when its necessary to advocate for my neighbors, and make sure that the services are being delivered as promised,” she said.
Ms. Lund concluded by thanking her neighbors for the opportunity to run for Westfield Town Council, stating that, she has “met so many wonderful people during this campaign.”
Democrats Point to Success Of Cutting County Taxes While Maintaining Services
This year, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders dedicated itself to several important goals: cutting taxes, bringing new jobs and economic opportunities to residents, improving access to education countywide, and improving the county’s parks and recreational areas.
Democratic Freeholders Daniel P. Sullivan of Elizabeth, who is Chairman of the Freeholder Board; Lewis Mingo, Jr. of Plainfield and Mary Ruotolo of Westfield said they have led the county in areas that make a difference in the lives of Union County’s 500,000 residents.
“We believe that county government touches the lives of residents every day,” said Freeholder Sullivan. “The voters of Union County chose this Freeholder Board because they wanted to see real results. They wanted a county that works hard to improve their lives and the lives of their children.”
The Democratic Freeholder slate noted that for the second straight year, the Freeholder board has cut county property tax rate. This year’s $1.5 million tax cut brings the county’s portion of property taxes down to their lowest level since 1994.
“Even with the $1.5 million tax cut, this Freeholder board has maintained and improved services to residents, taken on much-needed repairs to county roads and bridges and maintained our AAA bond rating,” said Freeholder Sullivan.
“In the two years since voters placed Democrats in control of the Freeholder Board, we have cut the county’s portion of property taxes both years. Property taxes actually increased in the two prior years, when Republicans controlled the board,” he said.
Union County is one of only four counties with the AAA bond rating, and is the only urban county with such an achievement, a campaign spokesman noted.
The Democratic Freeholder Board also made important investments transportation, education, and on parks and open space that contribute to the quality of life for county residents.
The Access 2000 program developed by this Freeholder Board will provide matching grants to every school district in Union County to ensure that by the year 2000, every classroom in the county has a computer and Internet access, and every teacher has training in computers and technology.
“Our investment of more than $3 million in grants to districts will pay out in the coming years with a highly educated workforce and with children better prepared for higher edu
cation and better jobs,” said Freeholder Ruotolo.
The candidates also noted that the Freeholder board also made a strong commitment to recreation, parks, open space and athletics in 1998. Through its “Project Pocket” parks grant program, the board provided the 21 municipalities of Union County with a total of $1.7 million in matching grants to improve town parks and athletic fields and preserve open space.
The board is also near completion of a year-long project to bring all county playgrounds up to modern safety standards with a $1 million investment.
It also approved the purchase of a 14-acre plot of land on the UnionElizabeth border to ensure that it stays open and undeveloped in that densely populated area.
The board also approved more than $20 million in repairs to county roads and bridges.
The candidates noted in a joint statement that through the board’s lobbying efforts, the county received more than $30 million in federal funds to develop a light rail system linking the eastern and western parts of the county and someday connecting residents to Newark International Airport, Port Elizabeth and the stores at Exit 13A on the New Jersey Turnpike.
It also ordered a study of the North Avenue Corridor, the most important east-west link in the county, to improve traffic flow.
“Services to senior citizens also are a top priority for this board,” said Freeholder Mingo, liaison to the county’s advisory council on aging. “We provide these services to help ensure that seniors can live healthy, independent lives in the home of their choice.”
This year, the freeholders developed a hospice program that will serve house-bound or terminally ill seniors in their homes.
Also Union County Sheriff’s officers are now transporting prisoners from municipalities to the county court in Elizabeth in pilot sites around the county so local police are patrolling the streets, not ferrying prisoners.
The Democratic candidates noted the board’s effort on taking on welfare dependence. Through a $5 million federal grant, it is providing the longest-term welfare recipients with job training, day care and transportation assistance to help ease them become independent, productive citizens.
The campaign spokesman also noted that the board invested in a welfare fraud program to catch those who would steal money intended for children and families.
Councilman Gruba Vows To Continue Supporting Efforts in Business District
WESTFIELD — “When the Town Council created the special improvement district and the Downtown Westfield Corporation, the mechanism for the revitalization of our downtown was put in place,” Westfield Republican Second Ward Councilman James J. Gruba, seeking reelection, said this week.
“The many restaurants and retail establishments which renovated their facilities and opened new locations have substantially enhanced the business district. I will continue to support the good work that is being done to enhance our commercial district and attract businesses and shoppers to our town,” said Councilman Gruba.
He continued by stating, “The resolution of our parking needs is key to this downtown vitality. With my support, the Town Council will develop the best possible plan to provide adequate and convenient parking for shoppers, our Westfield commuters, and downtown employees.”
“With the many young, new families arriving in town, the use of our parks, athletic fields and playgrounds has increased. The current capital
budget of the town includes money for enlargement and improvement of these facilities, and we will continue to allocate funds so that the recreational life of our residents will be second to none.
“In addition to those important areas of our town life, we will provide the most efficient leaf collection and snow removal for our residents,” noted Councilman Gruba.
“Road construction and maintenance will be significantly improved in the years ahead. The present council has approved a program of reconstruction and repair that uses new methods for this work. The result of this program will be more effective, smoother, and safer roads in our neighborhoods,” he explained.
Speaking as Chairman of the Town Council’s Finance Committee, Councilman Gruba expressed confidence that the improvements he cited can be provided while controlling property taxes in a responsible manner.
Second Ward residents who have opinions and comments can reach Councilman Gruba by calling him at (908) 233-0235 or by Fax at (908) 518-0482.
CAMPAIGN STRATEGY...Westfield Republican Second Ward Councilman James J. Gruba discusses Westfield community concerns with his reelection campaign Co-Chairmen Lisa Cassidy and Jim McCabe. Paulette Coronato Says
Live Telecast With Phone Link is ‘Open Government’
SCOTCH PLAINS — “I could be wrong, but isn’t the ultimate test of an elected official his or her ability to conduct the affairs of government during a live TV broadcast? With an audience? Then take questions from that TV audience via a direct link telephone line?” asks Republican Scotch Plains Township Council candidate Paulette Coronato, who’s lived in the township for 21 years.
“There have been many politicians on both sides of the aisle who have admired the initiative of our current Mayor, Joan Papen,” explained Ms. Coronato.
“Under her Republican leadership, Scotch Plains became one of the first municipalities in the state to broadcast its council meetings live.
“I find it ironic, then, that our opponents are calling for ‘open government,’ when that door has never been closed. They themselves have not been denied the opportunity either in the past or during the campaign, to air their questions and comments at the broadcasts of the council meetings.
“On the other hand, although all three of our opponents just recently surfaced at the council meetings, it is apparent that they are not aware of the many township communications outreach efforts, such as the special mailing on taxes, the township newsletters and the Recreation Commission roster of services,” Ms. Coronato explained.
“In addition these people who call for ‘open government’ — our opponents — have caused the League of Women Voters sponsored debate to be canceled. After years of accepting questions from the floor, as does the incumbent Republican council candidate, this year our opponents refused an open debate.
“They would only participate if the responses required of them were to written questions previously submitted and approved,” Ms. Coronato ex
plained. “We, on the other hand, were ready to participate in an open debate.”
“This week my running mate, Gail Iammatteo, detailed the many volunteer services that enhance the quality of life in Scotch Plains,” indicated Ms. Coronato, a member of the Scotch Plains Board of Adjustment and former member of the Planning Board.
“I should not have to point out to our opponents the fact that close to 200 volunteers participate in activities in our township. These range from the Recreation Commission to the Environmental Commission to Cultural Arts to the Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squads, to the Library Board and the Cultural Arts Committee,” the candidate explained.
“I congratulate the Republican council leadership on the fact that they have continually encouraged participation no matter what a person’s party affiliation is. In cases where the decision for inclusion on these various committees lies with the council, the main criteria for appointment is the resident’s willingness to serve and his/her suitability to the service he/ she is offering to provide,” Ms. Coronato continued.
“Thus, many Democrats and Independents have been appointed to serve on these committees and commissions. In fact, many have risen to leadership positions,” Ms. Coronato stated.
“Compare Scotch Plains to some other Union County towns, where vital volunteer services such as the Fire Department and Rescue Squads are hard pressed to fulfill residents’ needs due to the lack of volunteers.
“I do feel that the spirit of ‘open Government’ is one of the reasons why newcomers are attracted to our town and once they move here, are inclined to stay on as long-term residents,” Ms. Coronato concluded.
LIKE MOTHER, LIKE SON...When it comes to public service, this mother and son team have a common goal. Paulette Coronato of Scotch Plains and her son, Will Coronato of Fanwood, are running for council seats on the Republican line in their respective towns.
Gail Iammatteo Points Out Increasing Value of SP Homes
SCOTCH PLAINS – “When you’re in the crucial hours of a political campaign and you’re also moving to a beautiful new home, both the campaign and the new home have to be worth it,” said Gail Iammatteo, Republican candidate for Scotch Plains Township Council, who serves as Deputy Director of the New Jersey Real Estate Commission.
Ms. Iammatteo pointed out that her experience in selling her first Scotch Plains home reflected the September 8
Star-Ledger article, “Property Sales Signal New Boom for Home Owners.”
Statistics place Scotch Plains as second only to Summit in Union County with regard to the increased value of its average home sale over the last five years, the candidate noted.
“The average home in Scotch Plains increased in value by $39,000 over the last five years,” she stated. “Over the course of those five years, taxes on that average home totaled $29,250. Thus, the average homeowner got to live in that home and come out ahead by $10,000.”
“For the record, by the way, only 17 percent of your tax dollar goes towards municipal taxes, with the remaining 83 percent going to school and county government taxes,” she added.
Ms. Iammatteo pointed out that her reasons for moving within the township parallel her reasons for running for Township Council.
“As a long-term resident, I am proud of the quality of life that Republican leadership has built with the help of its many volunteers,” she explained.
“After many years of my own as a volunteer as a member of the Cultural Arts Committee, as a member and currently Chairwoman of the Board of Adjustment, I would like the opportunity to continue my service to the Township of Scotch Plains as a member of its Council.
“In the recent Labor Day weather emergency, as always, we could count on our many volunteer emergency squad and fire department members, who donated their time that week and many at the sacrifice of paychecks and personal agendas,” Ms. Iammatteo said.
“It’s hard to believe that in this day and age of soaring waste disposal costs that our Republican leadership can still manage to provide for the pick-up of household and yard items in the many programs offering residents the
opportunity to keep their homes clean and free of environmental debris.
“These programs include the Annual Spring Clean up, the pick up of leaves and gum balls in the spring, the pick up of leaves and branches in the fall and the bimonthly pick up of recyclables. Also through a shared ser
vices program, we can utilize the Fanwood recycling center,” commented Ms. Iammatteo, who has seen an increasing array of these services throughout her 23 years in Scotch Plains.
“And they have done this by maintaining a tax rate that is consistently among the lowest in Union County,” the candidate observed.
“Senior needs are met through a variety of programs including free meals at Scotch Hills Country Club, free flu shots, the seniors bus service the family oriented Village Green Summer Series,” Ms. Iammatteo stated.
“Programs that also benefit our families include Neighborhood Watch, the police bicycle patrol, the annual health fair, free monthly blood pressure testing, the Clean Communities program, free dog and cat rabies clinics and, last but certainly not least, the many programs sponsored by the township’s Recreation Department.
“When it came time for me to move,” concluded Ms. Iammatteo, “like an increasing number of Scotch Plains residents, I moved right within Scotch Plains. And I’m making a commitment to maintaining the high quality of life, the many services to Scotch Plains residents, and the retention of property values that is the legacy of the current Township Council. That is why I am a candidate for Township Council.”
SP Democrat Candidates Consider Overcrowding In Local School System
SCOTCH PLAINS “A lack of long range planning by the all-Republican council is a primary cause for the present school overcrowding crisis,” stated Franklin P. Donatelli, Tarquin Jay Bromley, and Geri Morgan Samuel, Democratic candidates for Scotch Plains Township Council in their last campaign release before the Tuesday, November 3 issue.
“The school enrollment crisis is another example on a growing list of lost opportunities that the Township Council should have acted upon,” they stated in a joint statement.
Mr. Donatelli commented, “As the all-Republican council let one developer after another build more and more dwelling units, the council failed to meet with the school board to prepare for the onslaught of new pupils. Had the council practiced the basics of good planning it would have provided the school board with essential demographic data that would have allowed the board to develop a timely plan for the burgeoning number of students.”
“The board needed to know the number of dwelling units being constructed, the number of bedrooms per dwelling, and the approximate selling price. These factors were
needed in order to project increased enrollment. But it didn’t happen,” explained Mr. Donatelli.
Mr. Bromley added, “As a result, the school board is forced to look at many options. One includes converting Terrill Middle School to a third, south side elementary school. This could have a significant negative impact on property values and lead to cramped quarters at Park Middle School.”
“Both north side and south side students will bear the impact of this. But the board has been left few options due to council’s poor planning,” he stated.
“Elementary enrollment climbed from 1,801 students in the 19931994 school year 2,194 pupils at the close of school this past June. That’s an increase of nearly 400 pupils. Interim measures to deal with the surge in pupils might include locating trailer classrooms at some school sites and town-wide redistricting. These choices,” emphasized Mr. Bromley, “wouldn’t have to be considered had council planned adequately and sat down with the school board years ago.”
Mrs. Samuel stressed that, “The
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Noreen Lund Gail Iammatteo