Questions For Candidates: Peter Zorich
Zorich is running for an at-large council seat on the Real Progress Montclair slate
Peter Zorich is running as an at-large candidate on the Real Progress Montclair slate.
Patch asked Zorich, and has been asking all the candidates, a series of questions. Here is a Q&A Patch recently did with Walter Springer; here is one with Selma Avdicevic; here is one with Bill Hurlock; here is one with Chris Swenson; here is one with Jeff Jacobson; and here is one with Tim Barr.
All candidates are invited to contact Patch at Shelley@patch.com to answer similar questions and readers are invited to submit questions to Zorich in the comments section below.
Q) There are several at-large candidates running for office. What distinguishes you from the other candidates?
A) As a Montclair native, my personal character and values have been defined by the diverse perspectives of this town. My experience in broadcast journalism has given me a unique insight into the important issues that we face as a community. Communications and transparency are critical skills that I have mastered in my career, and if elected I will put these abilities to use to make our municipal government more accountable, responsive and transparent.
Unlike some of my opponents, I am not incumbent or a career politician. I’m only interested in getting Montclair back on a sustainable path. In the past 12 years, the previous three administrations have tripled the debt and doubled taxes. I am committed to reversing that trend. I’m not sure that my opponents are willing or able to challenge the status quo, but I will.
I'm running for Town Council because I've already seen the effect of high taxes on our community. The character of the town is slowly eroding. Whether you were born here or you were drawn here, we can all agree that Montclair needs to change the path it’s on before its too late.
Q) What would you tackle immediately within the first 60 to 90 days in office?
A) It is critical that we implement policies requiring a more transparent budget process. The taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent. Real Progress Montclair has pledged to implement a 2-year moratorium on non-emergency debt. The total debt is approaching an astonishing $250 million. This has led to an explosive growth in debt service costs that has crippled our ability to fund valued services, like the Pre-K, the Library, and community policing to name just a few.
Unfortunately, some of my opponents are responsible for the dramatic debt increases, yet now want another term in office. I believe that the Township deserves a Council with a fresh perspective and new ideas.
Real Progress Montclair will craft a five year budget plan with revenue and expense projections for the entire tax levy. Our total town budget is almost $200 million, yet there is no five-year budget plan. That's indicative of the low-priority that past councils have had on municipal finances.
Q) Name one specific idea/plan you have that you believe would directly benefit Montclair residents?
A) Creating the first five-year budget for the Township and coordinating with the Board of Education through the Board of School Estimate. Joint revenue forecasting, expense forecasting and budgeting will help ensure that neither organization is forced to make dramatic cuts or significantly raise taxes when a new budget cycle begins.
Q) If your whole slate is not elected, how would you get along with the other candidates/slates?
A) Montclair has suffered from dysfunctional leadership for far too long. One of the benefits of growing up in Montclair is that you learn to work with different groups of people from all walks of life. I’ve also had a long and distinguished track record of cooperating with others in a highly competitive industry. Furthermore, I have personal relationships with many of the candidates and could easily develop collaborative working partnerships.
Q) What is one thing (or two) that people may not know about you?
A) I was on the 1985 Montclair High School lacrosse state championship team! It was truly a special experience and the relationships forged through the Montclair Lacrosse program remain strong to this day. In fact, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Montclair lacrosse this summer with an entire weekend of events and special programs.
Q) What is the number one issue you hear about from the voters you meet—and how would you tackle it .. specifically?
That’s an easy one – rising property taxes. I can’t tell you how many doors I’ve knocked on and heard stories about longtime residents having to move away because they can’t afford to live here anymore. I recently reached out to one of my favorite childhood teachers and he told me that he moved out of town because Montclair had become too expensive. What does it say about our community when one of our most dedicated educators can’t afford to live here any longer?