As a Republican councilman in Garwood from 2018 to 2020, I feel the need to speak out about this current campaign season. When on council, I worked with Democrats across the aisle because together we were always putting Garwood first. We supported all of our departments with praise at council meetings, but also with the money they needed. I very often voted with the Democrats not because any of those decisions were Democratic decisions, but the right decisions for Garwood. I am most proud of how we came together to purchase a rescue ladder truck for our all-volunteer fire department. This was a first for that department and one that saves lives.
Sadly, I continue to see much negativity from the current Republican candidates, just like the past few years. They have yet again called for the end of our shared service agreement with Fanwood for DPW supervision. State law says we have to have a DPW superintendent, which Fanwood provides. We pay Fanwood $43,000 instead of paying a full-time superintendent that would cost us $130,000. This is a huge savings. Without the shared services, taxes would go up to pay for a full-time superintendent that cannot even do any hands-on work because of the union contract for the DPW men.
It’s also comical to me that when we went to the public for their thoughts on whether or not we should get the ladder truck, we were told by some in this Republican Party, including one of the candidates running for council, that we don’t need this truck because we have shared services! Now they say shared services are a bad deal for our DPW. So it’s okay for the fire department to rely on shared services to save lives, but it is not okay for the DPW to have shared services for one position, that of a mandated certified superintendent.
The current Republican candidates, like those before them, beat the drum that they would stop and reduce our debt. This sounds good, but it can easily leave us with departments without necessary equipment (garbage trucks, emergency equipment, etc.). Now they claim they want a whole new building for our DPW! I am shocked as they did not even support the rescue ladder truck for our fire department, which is life saving equipment! It seems to me that they simply wait for a disaster like hurricane Ida to happen and then change their minds. That’s not leadership.
Also, they continue to misconstrue the redevelopment projects in town. Yes, this will add more people to our town. However, would they prefer blighted empty buildings with broken windows? The state makes us provide affordable housing. If we didn’t negotiate with these developers, we would be facing unwinnable lawsuits right now. As a current member of the planning board and former member of the council, I know firsthand how much these volunteers care about Garwood and want to make the best projects possible.
As a Republican, I ask my fellow Republicans to remember that they can vote Republican at the top of the ticket without voting Republican locally. Let’s not forget how the current Republican candidates supported Jesse Wilson last year who undermined the campaign of Tom Kean for congress with his outrageous antics and even called our great state senator “weak.” This was an embarrassment. I was relieved to see Senator Kean did not attend any fundraisers for them this year.
As a Garwood resident for the past 38 years, I ask all residents to join me in voting for the best people for the job. In Garwood, it isn’t about political parties, it’s about helping our town and neighbors.