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Bernardsville Borough Council {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The Bernardsville Borough Council is the governing body of the municipality and is comprised of elected officials. They establish the laws and policies for the Township. An elected Bernardsville Borough Council member serves a three year term.

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  • Peter Birnbaum
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Kerry Haselton
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Jena McCredie
    (Rep)

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    Chad McQueen
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What do you consider the most important challenges facing your municipality? What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges? Lastly, how do you intend to address these challenges?

What, if any, new proposals for local ordinances and/or resolutions do you think are needed, and please explain why you believe this is so.

Do you think municipal government has a role in keeping students safe in our schools? If yes, what do you think municipal governments should provide?

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Campaign Address 397 Mine Brook Rd.
Website BernardsvilleDemocrats.org
What do you consider the most important challenges facing your municipality? 1) Downtown Revitalization, 2) Parks & Open Space Development and Acquisition, and 3) Efficient & Strategic budgeting.

What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges?

I am a 14-year member of the Environmental Commission and current chair of its Land Use Committee, as well as a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School. These experiences have gifted me a keen appreciation for the natural world and a knowledge of how development impacts the environment.

I was a long-time coach for the Somerset Hills Soccer Club and a 17-year veteran player of competitive senior soccer. As such, I appreciate the value of well-maintained play spaces for all sporting pursuits. Additionally, I have five years' experience working as a physical therapy aide, helping adults with gait and balance disorders. I will always work to ensure that the residents with mobility issues can also experience the serenity of Bernardsville's parks and natural areas.

I have been a resident of Bernardsville for 27 years. My husband and I raised two daughters in the Twin Lakes neighborhood west of downtown. I have lived my entire adult life on Route 202, traversing daily from Morristown to Bedminster.

In short, I look forward to the opportunity to serve on Council as a voice for the environment and the quality of life downtown and outdoors for residents of all ages in Bernardsville.

Lastly, how do you intend to address these challenges?

1) In a 2018 survey, over 90 percent of responding Bernardsville residents listed downtown revitalization as a top priority. That makes it my top priority.

The Democrats in Bernardsville have been holding forums and advocating for improving our downtown district for the past 5 years. Finally, after gaining seats on our Council, progress began in 2018, and our town is now looking at a number of development proposals to improve the district. A special subcommittee of the Planning Board, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Community Alliance have been hard at work on ideas ranging from redevelopment districts and creation of new ordinances to additional community events. It's a challenging but exciting time for Bernardsville.

2) Similarly, I want to see our parks improved and developed for access and enjoyment of all our residents, and our open spaces preserved to retain the environmental integrity of our semi-rural borough. The Borough has recently acquired three new properties for open space and recreation purposes. At this point, we need a comprehensive plan looking at these three acquisitions and all other Borough-owned open space so that we use available open space funds for the benefit of all.

Bernardsville has a Municipal Recreation, Farmland, and Historic Open Space Trust Fund. Possible changes to it are on the ballot as a referendum this election cycle. Together, we will decide whether to change the percentage of receipts available for development of Open Space from the current 20% of monies to possibly up to 100% of monies collected from 2020 on.

Because we have recently added nearly 40 acres to our open space inventory, I support this freeing up of additional monies, in principal. We have fallen behind on capital improvements to our existing recreation infrastructure, and we will need to work to bring the new properties on line. If elected to council, I will serve as a voice for all residents, ensuring that whatever monies are available are fairly allocated to projects to benefit all, including constituents who are less vocal, and the natural environment. There is value in untrammeled open space, as well as athletic fields and bike paths. With every expenditure, I will look for the most cost effective alternative which will meet our needs.

3) Prudent and practical use of available funds is a challenge for every municipality. Since Democrats have joined the Bernardsville Council, our budget came under more productive control, resulting in the smallest increase in taxes in 5 years, while meeting our public safety obligations and restoring our Library's operating hours to their usual standard.

We are proud to be one of only six NJ towns to earn AAA ratings from both Moody's and Standard and Poor's. I am eager to jump in and guide discussions during the rigorous planning and prioritization that should precede any budget passed.
I think we need to institute standards for new development that will help us regulate the appearance of new commercial buildings in our downtown. The Planning Board has drafted some proposed changes. I would like to see us start to create a vision for how Bernardsville should look twenty years from now.

I believe we need these standards because the lack of them has resulted in a hodgepodge of architectural styles that doesn't contribute to the beauty of our commercial zones.

I also think we need to streamline and clarify the process of opening a new business in our downtown. By making the process less onerous, we will encourage businesses to locate here.
School safety in Bernardsville is primarily under the purview of the Somerset Hills Board of Education. The district has two retired police officers who serve as armed resource officers at our schools; one at the high school, and the other at the campus which houses our elementary and middle schools. I support the presence of these officers.

The district has also made changes to the front doors at all schools, locking the doors on both sides of the vestibule, and now requires visitors to the High School to show a driver’s license.

I believe the Borough and the school district should continue to work together to do as much as possible to keep kids safe at school and allay parents’ anxiety.
Campaign Address PO Box 509 Bernardsville, NJ 07924
Campaign Email info@demand4bville.com
Website Facebook page - demand for bernardsville
Property values declining and maximizing our budget (fiscal responsibility). I am a full-time working mother of 3 small children. I come from a family of entrepreneurs always looking to make things happen. I am a Director in IT in a Global Organization. I have successfully managed large budgets, vendors, and programs. Developing and maintaining senior-level stakeholder relationships is a key success factor for my job. I have worked for the last 4 years in what was essentially a start-up within a very large organization. This required negotiations, compromises and delivery of deadlines required by government authorities. I believe these skill sets well-position me for a borough council seat. Put our open space development dollars to work for us. Invest in our facilities – roads, curbs, purchased open space, bike/walking trails, fields, dog parks. We need to create spaces that bring people to Bernardsville, to live or simply play. • Discussions with people – residents, business owners, property owners; We need to make the process for allowing new business to come to town more efficient and cost-effective. Engage all residents within the community. We need people who will listen and make change. We need to recognize business owners and the volunteers who make Bernardsville great. • Reviewing our budget with the respective department heads to focus our spending on what will attract people to Bernardsville (not necessarily support hobbies of a small number of residents)
We need to focus on enforcing the ordinances and resolutions we already have. We many disparate and contradicting ordinances. We need to consolidate and make the ordinances easy to understand and consistent.
Whether in or out of school, our municipal budget is for public safety (children and adults alike). Our existing police department provides officers in schools, safe roadways and keeps speeding at the forefront of people’s minds. These efforts should continue and/or increase. Assemblies and campaigns to increase awareness and knowledge of mental health issues (i.e.: how mental health concerns might present themselves and how one can notify the proper groups/adults) would be beneficial. We can work with, promote and leverage Community in Crisis as a fabulous resources for our residents.
Campaign Address 15 Sycamore Hill
Campaign Email Info@demand4bville.com
Website Facebook- Demand For Bernardsville
The biggest challenge facing our municipality has been a consistent decline in home assessed and market values in our borough. This value loss has occurred in the setting of yearly increased property tax rates. Unfortunately, our local government hasn't done enough to ensure Bernardsville has the aesthetic, vibrant downtown and public amenities of surrounding towns. Change is needed in the following ways. 1. We need a renewed mission in Bernardsville which focuses on small town values and families. 2. We need to carry this focus into all aspects of local government. Utilizing it as a guidepost to shape focused budgeting and priorities around how to create VALUE for the families who live here and those who are considering to do so in EVERYTHING the local government does. This focus will allow us to prioritize tax dollar spending in ways that create value and eliminate or reduce spending in areas not directly related to this goal. 3. Our government needs elevated expectations, focus, and accountability in everything we do and work that we contract. The days of re-doing work, at the taxpayers expense, and/or accepting less than quality standards need to end. 4. We need to transition spending from areas which are not currently providing value to our borough into ways that do. For example, on an annual basis nearly $500,000 of tax revenue is collected to purchase open space. This year alone, the borough has purchased nearly $3,000,000 of open land. This tax needs to be used to improve these spaces, going forward, so these properties provide real value to the residents.

As an owner of a business employing over 20 individuals and as a former executive, this type of focus and fiscal discipline is a foundation of what I do in the private sector. Without fiscal focus in a business, every spend seems important. Without the right expectations, you have inconsistency in the way a business runs. I fully understand that we are talking about public sector expectations, budgets, and contracts. However, I do believe change is possible. I intend on making change my personal expectation.

I believe our current ordinances are sufficient. It is critical that the ordinances currently in place are clear and, more importantly, are enforced. Re-zoning is occurring within the borough and a new set of design standards are in development for our downtown. I intend to ensure those changes are transparent, clearly communicated, and fairly and appropriately enforced.
I believe our current ordinances are sufficient. It is critical that the ordinances currently in place are clear and, more importantly, are enforced. Re-zoning is occurring within the borough and a new set of design standards are in development for our downtown. I intend to ensure those changes are transparent, clearly communicated, and fairly and appropriately enforced.

Importantly, we need to avoid new ordinances or borough discussions that either impose unnecessary restrictions on local businesses or distract from our goal of improving commercial and residential value in our borough.
Yes, municipal governments have a role in all aspects of safety within the community. Bernardsville is proud of our local first responders and feel they are an important part of our community. While it is a great step that our district has 2 school safety officers employed by the police department assigned to our schools, we should always be evaluating and re-evaluating the best ways to keep our children safe while at school. Fortunately, the Bernardsville police department informs many of the safety decisions adopted by the BOE, which is absolutely appropriate and should continue.