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Wanting Answers: Questions For Candidates

A debate is scheduled at the high school for April 26; residents invited to submit questions

The Montclair High School Civics and Government Institute (CGI) will host a community-wide mayoral debate on Thursday, April 26 from 6:30-8:30 pm in the MHS LGI (Large Group Instruction room). The focus of the debate will be on education in Montclair and will be moderated by two high school seniors, Chris Murphy and Gabriella Peterson.

The Civics and Government Institute is a small-learning community of 10th to 12th graders within Montclair High School dedicated to the instruction of citizenship, government, and social issues.

Questions for the candidates can be emailed to cgidebate@gmail.com or submitted through Twitter @CGIdebate. The moderators will select questions from those submitted and a short portion at the end of the debate will be designated for public questioning.

Additionally, Jon Bonesteel, moderator and list-owner of the Montclair Watercooler teamed up with Cary Africk (past moderator) to pen an initial list of questions that they believe all candidates should speak to. “This is a preliminary list – a starting point,” says Bonesteel. “We’ve received our first set of answers from Selma [Avdicevic].” You can view them HERE.

Here’s the list of 16 questions. Any candidate care to take a stab at these, here, in the comments section below? Or you could email your answers to Shelley@patch.com and we'll publish them for you.

  1. What do you believe are the three most pressing problems affecting the town, in order of priority?
  2. What role should the town have in the development of businesses in Montclair?
  3. Do you believe in "outsourcing," even if it means loss of jobs or benefits to town employees in return for reduced costs and increased services?
  4. Please supply us with a copy of your resume, including education. Please point out aspects of your background that would make you a better candidate.
  5. What is the last book you read? What magazines, newspapers, etc. do youregularly read? Where do you get your news from?
  6. What value do you think "the blogs" have for Council members or the residents?
  7. What do you think of our current municipal services, e.g. trash, snow removal, etc.
  8. What do you think of our current communications efforts, i.e. the town website, broadcasting of meetings, etc.?
  9. What do you think of regionalization of services such as fire, police, library, etc.?
  10. What do you think of "shared" services?
  11. Do you believe other Council members should be a part of the appointment process for the BOE?
  12. Do you believe BOE members should be appointed or selected via popular vote/elected?
  13. What do you think of using outside consultants?
  14. What do you think of the current Council's doing away with the Capital Finance Committee? Do residents have a role there, or on other similar committees?
  15. Do you agree with the current Leaf Blower ordinance and would you change it?
  16. How would you address the low income housing issue? Do you agree with the recent Council's decision on the Wildwood property?
Right of Center March 02, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Good Grief, Ms. Emling, why would you post candidate answers to questions that your readers cannot access? Only Watercooler members can see the answers. What kind of public service is that? You should only link-to and promote information EVERY Patch reader can access. I'd give these initial questions a 4 out of 10 for probative value. "What books and magazines do you read?" I suppose that's a clever attempt to delve into the person's politics? The problem is not that our council and potential candidates don't recognize that taxes, spending, and budgets are top issues. The question is WHAT specifically will they DO about it? That's the number one issue. And it's not asked in these questions!
Right of Center March 02, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Are the candidates afraid to post answers out here in the public? Will they only engage in dialogue with voters behind the protection of moderators? Do we really need Jon Bonesteel and the Watercooler to act as gatekeepers for the public to access candidates?
Jon Bonesteel March 02, 2012 at 02:55 PM
For some reason my comments don't seem to be taking here. Let me try again. In regard to your concerns Mr/ or Ms. Right of Center, the Montclair Watercooler is very public and open. We do ask that members identify themselves when they join and that they include their name when they post on political issues. We feel this is fair. I understand why the lack of anonymity may be an issue for you, and it does drive home Mr. Porters comments in this week's editorial in the Times. Candidates are welcome to send their answers to MtcWatercooler-owner@yahoogroups.com if they are not members. You are also welcome to join. Thanks, Jon Bonesteel
Right of Center March 02, 2012 at 03:04 PM
My question was to Ms. Emling. Why would she link to a non-public forum for candidate information? One must be "admitted" to the Watercooler. It's not a public forum open to non members. I'm sure the candidates will like the protection so that no difficult questions are asked (witness the list above), but that's not in the public interest. Tough questions SHOULD be asked. And they should be answered IN PUBLIC where everyone can see them and comment on them anonymously or not.
frank rubacky March 02, 2012 at 03:26 PM
@JB: Last time I checked WC sign-up procedure several years ago, an applicant had to provide an overview of why they wanted to join WC. Then the moderators would get back to you and let you know if you were accepted. Has that been discontinued and all you need is to give your name and email?
Stuart Weissman March 02, 2012 at 03:34 PM
You can reduce your list of questions down to one really. Were you a Fried 3 supporter or not?
frank rubacky March 02, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I think the CGI forum is a great idea and I applaud (faintly and at a distance) the students. However, I'm concerned that the Montclair Times will not cover the event as the questions submitted will be anonymous. Further, these civic minded students could be labeled as coward sympathizers. The CGI has been given an excellent discussion topic about freedom of speech, a free press, and how it is still, today, woven into our culture to limit these rights to those in the minority.
frank rubacky March 02, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Oh, and my only question for all candidates at this forum is: "If you are running on fiscal responsibility and looking at the combined BOE/Municipal tax levy, what would you say is the maximum average annual tax increase over your 4 year term that you feel would be fiscally responsible?"
Jon Bonesteel March 02, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Well Ms. Right of Center, if your request is to Ms. Emling, may I suggest an email? The issue is really about choice. All of the forums available provide access to the discussion of town issues. There are those who chose to do so behind a veil of a nom de plume thus diminishing their comments and there are outlets where those who post may want to know who they are discussing the topics with. I happen to see more value in the latter. The moderating standard on the Watercooler is actually less restrictive than Patch or Bnet if you actually review the terms of service. We simply require a brief introduction in addition to that, given that we are a community and we like to build trust in that. @frank, there is no "test" per se in admitting members. We just want others to know who is joining and why to help start the discussion. If you apply to the list you will see the welcome request. I am limited by space here (but not on the WC). Jon
Jon Bonesteel March 02, 2012 at 04:00 PM
BTW - the candidate answers will also be on the Watercooler FB page for those who are not inclined to join the group. Do a search on Montclair Watercooler. Jon
Right of Center March 02, 2012 at 04:12 PM
That "per se" tells you most what you need to know about the Watercooler. Their most telling posting "guideline" is that you may not post any criticism of the moderators nor criticism of the posting guidelines. It's all rather Chinese....
frank rubacky March 02, 2012 at 08:48 PM
I would add this question to whoever is keeping the list: "As this election is essentially a referendum on what the voters want, would it be appropriate for this Council to defer to the incoming Council the final approval of the 2012-13 budget?"
Jon Bonesteel March 02, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Thanks @Frank, I will add it to the next set. Jon
CGIdebate March 04, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Thank you MTC Patch for posting this event. We appreciate it. It would be great if the citizens of Montclair come out to this debate. I would appreciate it also if the commentary stay civil in these forums regarding our event, since our students will be following the events of the debate and the election closely. Thank you. And remember: Questions for the candidates can be emailed to cgidebate@gmail.com or submitted through Twitter @CGIdebate.

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