- What is your educational and volunteer background?
I learned the value of volunteerism as a Scout while I was working my way towards earning Eagle Scout. My volunteerism to our community started with Saint Clare’s Harvest Festival, then coaching ball for my 5 children, 12 years as a Cub Scout leader and the Knights of Columbus. When Mayor Dyer appointed me to the Recreation Committee, little did I know what lay ahead for me. Before I knew it, I was the Chairman of the new playground at Gardner Field, Project Playground 96. The following 2 years, I led the construction of Riverview School and the Denbrook community built playground projects. I was the Chairman of Boy Scout Troop 17 for 9 years, and during that time I was appointed, then elected and re-elected to the Town Council for a total of 12 years. I graduated William Paterson College with a degree in Business Administration. I earned a Municipal Elected Official Certificate from Rutgers University and a Management Labor Relations Certificate from NJ Department of Labor / Rutgers University.
- Why did you choose to run for mayor/council?
As the overall Chairman of the Gardner Field Playground in 1996, the committee raised $150,000 for a new playground. I saw the many acts of kindness and goodness in the people of our community. The more I did on the Recreation Committee, the more I wanted to do. In 2000 there was an opening on the Town Council, I was appointed and my goals were modest; to leave Denville better off than when it was entrusted to me. Since then every time I ran I had more insight and direction but the same goal. I ran for Mayor in 2011 because Denville need a change in direction, over the years, with the help of many people, I had developed a vision of what our community could be.
- What do you feel is the biggest issue facing Denville today?
It is sad to say, but most of our most difficult issues are caused by the State of New Jersey.
The time and money towns in New Jersey spend to protect themselves from the state is staggering. Affordable Housing, The Department of Transportation’s unilateral desire to shut down the Lackawanna crossing, NJ Transit failure to fix the Franklin Ave Bridge, Franklin Rd Trestle, Route 53 sidewalk wall and their own train station are just some of the issues that the State is imposing on our community.
The Township has been very responsible in providing Affordable Housing and because of that the Courts have upheld our immunity from the Builders Remedy. At one time, we were defending ourselves from 6 builders in court and the Fair Share Housing Council was asking the Court to put over 1,700 units in Denville. We are fighting it and have not lost our immunity. We will have to settle at some point but as long as we are negotiating we have the hopes of a more reasonable number.
We have elevated the Lackawanna Crossing Closing issue and all the NJ Transit issues to Senator Bucco, Assembly Bucco and Gov. Murphy staff. These issues are diverting a tremendous amount of time, and energy from where the work is needed to improve our community and money spent on other projects
- Why did you decide to run now?
There was a process I went through when I decided to run for another term as Mayor. First, there is much more that I can and the town needs to accomplish: The entire Downtown should have the same streetscape project as Broadway, we were able to get the Army Corps of Engineers to spend $1.2 Million Dollars to study the Flood Mitigation Plan our Engineer Consultant designed, we expect to hear next year whether Denville will receive a $10 Million Dollar pre-approved grant through the Army Corp and the State of NJ. We will continue paying down our debt and working towards a AAA bond Rating. The second decision was, am I still enjoying being in office? YES, I enjoy the challenge, the team work the sense of accomplishment and the bad day are always forgotten by the opportunity to help someone which happens every day. My wife and family needed to be behind me because there are sacrifices and they are. Finally I needed to have the Town Council support which I do, 100%.
- What specific skills will you bring to the table if elected/re-elected?
I have always had very good organizational and people skills. My background might be somewhat unique but it keeps me grounded and gives me many different perspectives. One set of my grandparents were immigrants and I had family in the military and some with disabilities. I grew up in the congestion of Hudson County, was a blue collar craftsman, and a union
Representative, Executive Board & Pension Board Trustee, earned a college education and took my skills into sales. I have a large family, have been unemployed and I know what it is like to worry about paying bills. I also have the experience, shown the vision and commitment and the proven track record of actually being the Mayor, leading the staff, crafting a budget, negotiating contracts and working with the Town Council.
- What new programs or initiatives would you like to start if elected/re-elected?
We need to continue the things we already started like the Downtown Streetscape Improvements , Flood Mitigation, Reducing Debt, Keeping our Schools Safe with SRO & Class 3 Officers and keeping up with our roads all while doing it fiscally responsibly. Then we can start implementing our new programs. The trail system is really at just beginning, we installed a path around the pond at Muriel Hepner Park and received a grant for the new bridge that was recently installed. We received a grant for a Trail Master Plan and will be continuing to apply for grants on an annual basis. After records amounts of rain over the last year and a half, I asked the Council for funding for a Drainage Master Plan. The way Denville developed; some neighborhoods have sufficient storm drains, while some have inadequate storm drains, some have private storm drains, some have no storm drains and some have failing storm drain systems. There are drainage issues that can cause motor vehicle safety concerns that have been there for decades that need to be addressed. The Administrative Staff has reviewed the sites looking at several criteria and rated the sites in order of priority of safety, complexity and cost. We have already started on the highest priority action items, the ones we could fix with the limited funding in place. Finally most all of our ballfields are in the floodplain. We are approaching the half-life of the Turf Field at Veterans Field. This would be the perfect time to add an additional turf field. This way when replacement time come they would not be on top of each other.
- What are you passionate about?
Years ago I would have told you my passion was capital projects in parks and playgrounds because of the great satisfaction of watching our citizens utilizing and enjoying our recreation facilities. As my responsibilities increased so has my passion. I have come to realize it is for our people. Keeping them safe, their homes dry, property values high, tax rate even keeled and as low as possible and their community, beautiful and a place we can all be proud to live in. It is also essential that I maintain, support and encourage the special spirit of our community.
- What is the best thing about Denville?
We are a beautiful community, 35 miles from Manhattan, great lakes, a hospital, parks, playgrounds, a quaint Downtown, wonderful restaurants and shops but none of those are the best thing. The single best thing about Denville is the heart and spirit of our people. The people of Denville have a heart of gold. Time and time again, I have seen the many acts of generosity and kindness. I saw it when Joey Bella was sick, when we built the Gardner Field Playground in 1996, when Hurricane Irene destroyed the heart of our town and I see on an almost daily basis when people come walking in the Town Hall with Food, Coats, School Supplies and Holiday presents. I feel blessed to have raised my family here and to see my mom live here and some of my children living in Denville raising my grandchildren here.
- What are your hobbies/interests?
I have not had a lot of time for hobbies my family, my wife, Sharon and I have 3 sons, 2 daughters and 8 grandchildren. I love to volunteer, I make it a point to volunteer for the Knights of Columbus Can Drive and Joey Bella every year. I am a Scout at heart, I love going to Scouts with my grandsons and watching all the grand children play ball. I enjoy relaxing at the side of our lake and rooting for my beloved NY Mets.
- What is your professional background?
I worked for the largest printing company in New Jersey and while going to college. I rose through the ranks in the company and was also very active in the New York City Lithographers Local as not only a Representative but a member of the Executive Board and Pension Fund Trustee. I once had the opportunity to be on the New York City Area Contract Negotiating Team. I eventually severed ties with the union and for the last 24 years have been the Technical Sales Representative for a major press roller manufacturer. My blue collar background enables me to understand the positions of our workers, my union background enables me to have insight on contract negotiations and my sales background enables me to talk and get along with people but most importantly makes me a good problem solver.