By REBECCA MEHORTER
For The Leader/Times
WESTFIELD — The Westfield Republicans recently announced their slate of candidates for the mayoral and council races this November. Democrats currently hold seven of the eight council seats, along with the mayor’s spot.
JoAnn Neylan is running for mayor. She served as a council member for Westfield’s Second Ward from 2004 to 2019 and is the former chair of the Finance Policy Committee. According to a statement by the Westfield Repueblicans, “she understands what it takes to implement fiscal discipline without sacrificing best-in-class government services.”
Amanda Como is seeking the Ward 1 council seat. Ms. Como, according to the statement, is a small-business owner and has previously served as the fund-raising chair of the Westfield Welcome Club as well as having coached town sports and acted in various capacities within the Girl Scouts.
“I felt called to action because I could not take the fog of toxicity looming over our community any longer,” Ms. Como told The Westfield Leader. “Setting an example for my children and other women to take the physical step to try and affect change was important to me.”
She said via email that she hopes as councilperson she will serve her constituents by explaining things to them, informing them and encouraging their engagement, as “there are critical decisions currently being made and many more forthcoming. It is paramount that residents understand how much is at stake for the future of Westfield and why.”
Denise Garrett is seeking the Ward 2 seat. According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms. Garrett is the head of America’s Operations Compliance at Morgan Stanley. She is active within her church and the Parent-Teacher Organization. She told The Leader she was inspired to run to be a role model for her children and to “ultimately leave Westfield even better than how I found it.”
“I am committed to putting community before partisan politics, and as councilwoman, I will champion transparency and communication, fiscal responsibility and accountability, the preservation of our small-town atmosphere and values, and ensuring we bring our children top-quality sports programs and facilities,” she said in the statement.
In terms of improving fiscal responsibility, Ms. Garrett said her “baseline priority” was transparency and “innovative and creative solutions to current challenges” created by Covid-19. An area of focus for her is “non-tax revenue opportunities to help grow the surplus back to a more comfortable level as we discuss together as a town council how to manage the town surplus.”
Shawn Mullen is running as the candidate for Ward 3. Mr. Mullen is a retired FBI agent and previously served in the U.S. Army Reserve. He also volunteered with the American Legion Martin Wallberg Post No. 3 and The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, as well as having shared his work experience at school presentations, career-day events and junior police academies.
He said his experience as a special agent for the FBI would “make me an effective liaison between the council — which exercises civilian oversight — and our public safety professionals,” and would help him “explore new strategies to confront rising crime rates and vehicle thefts in town.”
Mr. Mullen also is a frequent face at meetings of the town council and planning board and speaks on issues that affect his neighborhood. “There are significant issues facing Westfield today and I’m ready to take a more active role to advocate for the interests of my fellow Third Ward residents as their representative on the council,” he told The Leader.
James Restivo is running as the Republican candidate for Ward 4. According to the statement, he is active in the Westfield Public School system and sports and music programs. He currently works in sales and marketing at Suzanne’s Specialties, an organic and all-natural sweetener company.
“As councilman, I will work hard for you to preserve our tax dollars, improve our parks and fields, and rebuild trust between the town and local government,” Mr. Restivo said in the statement. “I will work with all council members to erase the lines that have divided us and put the needs of Ward 4 residents, along with the entire Westfield community, at the heart of every decision.”
“We have some noticeably big decisions to be made that will affect that future,” Mr. Restivo told The Leader. “I want to be a part of the process to make sure those decisions are made in a way that will benefit the community now and for the long term.”
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