With the May 8 election just over a week 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! We published the detailing your responses last week.
"If I were mayor, I'd get rid of the magnet schools, try to integrate the town more, improve the high school, canvass the rich people to build a bigger, better animal shelter. I'd fire the town engineer, who refused to fix a traffic light, endangering the kids who have to cross the street here in the morning. I'd have more recycling days in zone 2 (which this year had eight days or two months recycling cancelled because of Monday holidays). I'd put the town workers on the state's health plan and save the town millions. I'd post cameras to punish bad drivers and rip up every parking meter. I'd turn empty lots into parking lots for visitors, and fight Dick Grabowsky's conspiracy to raise rents and destroy small businesses. Let's make life more humane and more affordable in every ward," said one anonymous resident.
"If I were mayor the first thing I would do after being elected would be to plan a series of strategy meetings of the newly elected officials. They can meet as a group without violating statute as long as it's before July 1. I would put together a strategic plan for the four years. We're not sure who will win, but I would like to re-establish committees such as Capital Finance, and OBAC, as soon as possible. We need their help. I would also plan on bringing in someone such as Glenn Rogers to advise on how to improve the organization (recognizing that the council doesn't run the organization). I would establish multiple permanent council committees, including one on personnel, and one on the budget. I would expand the role of the Board of School Estimate, which in the last four years has not held ONE meeting that wasn't required under statute, such meetings being a rubber stamp for decisions that were already made. I would expand outreach to Montclair State, and talk to the state about more than complete streets and bike lanes. I would propose to re-establish mutually respectful relationships with the surrounding communities," said Councilor Cary Africk.
"We need to pay down our debt—not by increasing taxes but by increasing ratables through the marketing of our town to anchor stores and other big merchants, and by being creative in how we raise money (renting town facilities, etc.," said one anonymous resident.
"We need to stop focusing on just local family businesses and start reaching out to national chains and big stores and not be afraid to try to draw them into our community. They will only bring in more money for everyone. The first thing I'd do as mayor is get a new economic development council off the ground that could start attracting some big chains to this town," said one anonymous resident.
"I would hire someone—somehow—who could apply for grant money or talk to the state or the county to do something about our crumbling streets and sidewalks ... and to bring in more lighting for the streets. Right now our streets are dangerous to walk or ride bikes on and are too dark at night," said one anonymous resident.