With the May 8 election less than two weeks away, it's no surprise that the campaign rhetoric is heating up. Also intensifying are the comments from residents, demanding answers from the candidates on a wide range of issues. As a result, Montclair Patch decided to ask you—our readers—what you would do within the first six months of office if elected mayor. We emailed more than 200 voters and will publish a series of articles detailing people's responses—most of them delivered on the condition that the residents remain anonymous. And who knows? Maybe the mayoral candidates—Robert Jackson, Harvey Susswein, and Karen Turner—will be listening!
One resident said she would do something to fix Highland Avenue. "I think it costs me $1,000 a year in car repairs. It’s in shambles and is an embarrassment. And of course the biggest issue is the escalating property taxes. When I moved here my taxes were under $8,000 a year. Now they are $26,000! That is in a 15-year span. Unfortunately, my salary has not tripled in this time frame. I would vote for people that would have a more sensible and transparent budget. Reduce the costs of public services. Hire private garbage collection if that is more cost effective. Combine fire departments with surrounding towns. Reduce the number of chiefs in the fire department and the police department. The overhead is tremendous. Look at the busing costs for the schools. Maybe there is a more cost effective way to get children to school. Maybe the magnet system is not the best solution. It seems to get people fighting to get into one school or another when it wouldn’t be necessary if the Montclair schools were run in the same way. Just some thoughts. I’m sure none of the solutions are that easy. But I do believe that this town needs a major overhaul in the government. I think there is enough blatant waste to cut out in a way to increase efficiency and services without raising taxes."
"What I would do is something about taxes. My biggest issue, and that of a lot of my friends, is the insanely high property taxes. This town is quickly becoming unaffordable for a lot of people like us in the middle of the economic spectrum— the current trend will turn it into a town of the very rich and the very poor, and that won't be good for anyone," an anonymous resident.
"Transparency on where the money really goes ... and consolidate municipal services between neighboring towns to cut down on costs, especially healthcare and retirement costs that are killing us," an anonymous resident.
"For our family it's all about having a mayor that can get a handle on our taxes—my husband and i would like our kids to be able to come back to Montclair for Thanksgiving dinner when they're older, but our taxes have nearly doubled in the past eight years and it scares us that it won't be sustainable to stay here in the long run," an anonymous resident.
"The first thing I would do is sit down with all the different business associations around town and find out if there is a way they could work together and support one another better. I'd ask what they need to draw in more businesses. Why are so many businesses closing on Bloomfield Avenue? I'd meet with business owners immediately," an anonymous resident.
What would you do? Let us know in the comments section below or email Shelley@patch.com.