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I have had the opportunity to serve Morris Plains as a councilwoman since January 2019. The current council selected me to fill the last year of Mayor Jason Karr’s council term. The months since then have been intense and rewarding. Under the mayor’s leadership, I “hit the ground running,” working with the council, staff, and borough committees, not only to serve our residents, but also to prepare our community for the changes that we face.
Our campaign platform of “Preparing for the Future, Preserving Our Values” hits at the heart of one of the most important challenges that our town is facing. Morris Plains is entering a new phase of its history. The development of a hotel, retail space and housing is starting on one of the last open parcels of usable land in our small town. While the progress is positive, we need to be prepared to accommodate the imminent growth, ensuring adequate resources for police, fire and emergency services and working with our Freeholders to address the increased traffic on our county and town roads. In addition, the expansion of our residential space will require proactive efforts to integrate the planned residential developments into the fabric of our town.
If elected, I plan to work with the mayor, council, business owners and resident experts to initiate a downtown business alliance to connect residents throughout our town. This is vital to preserve the desirable small-town feel of our community.
As a mom, wife, global communications professional, active member of the community, and now an experienced councilwoman, I am highly qualified to continue serving the Community of Caring.
My experience as a global communications professional at a consumer healthcare company and my 25+ years in public relations for numerous clients in the areas of public policy and consumer health equipped me to be a highly effective member of the Borough Council. In my current council role, I am the liaison to town committees that focus on public health, including the Board of Health, Municipal Alliance, Clean Communities, Recycling, Teen Center and Garbage Collection committees.
My commitment to Morris Plains started long before I became a councilwoman. I have been a member of the Education Foundation of Morris Plains, a group of dedicated parents that raise funds for innovation in education for every student in the district. I’m a parent volunteer for the Girl Scouts, running the annual Nut and Chocolate sale for the past two years, and a volunteer for the Morris Plains girls’ softball team. In addition, I am the founding member of the Morris Plains Parents – MP Free Site, where over 350 neighbors “pay it forward” within the community by donating items that they no longer want or need.
My husband and I have lived in Morris Plains for 10 years with our daughter, who is in fifth grade.
Morris Plains is the Community of Caring, but it’s a community that will soon be growing with the addition of two major residential developments. Those new residences will bring challenges that include new students, and a strain on our infrastructure, especially our utilities and road network. As a veteran of public service at the local, state and federal levels I will be able to hit the ground running with existing relationships to make sure we are receiving adequate support from our partners in government to transition through this period.
The other main challenge I see is our declining commercial rateables. Its no secret that New Jersey’s business tax climate is the worst in the nation. That’s led corporations to flee our state. Just last year, Honeywell announced they would be moving their headquarters from Morris Plains to North Carolina. Once certain tax incentives expire its likely they will abandon our town altogether. We need proactive leadership to plan for a future without Honeywell. The last thing we need is more high-density housing, so outside the box solutions are needed – on par with how Holmdel’s Bell Labs site was repurposed into a state-of-the art multi-purpose facility on the premise of “live, work, play”. A potential white elephant was transformed into a national model for abandoned office complexes. It’s not too soon to start planning for that eventuality.
My wife Maryellen and I chose to live in Morris Plains because of its reputation as the Community of Caring - a community with safe streets, great schools, reasonable taxes and outstanding recreation opportunities. We're thrilled to be raising our 10 month old son, Will, here.
Our community faces challenges ahead on many fronts. As a public policy professional, I have extensive experience in taxpayer accountability, transportation and quality of life issues critical to Morris Plains’ future. Former Mayor Frank Druetzler recognized my abilities and appointed me to serve on the Borough’s Planning Board.
I have a 20-year record of public service specializing in public policy and communications, serving as a top staff member to a member of Congress and county prosecutor. Currently I work for a public policy think tank that is focused on economic development and tax policy to restore New Jersey’s competitive standing. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and an MBA in management from Wagner College and a certificate in emergency crisis management from Texas A&M University and attended the United States Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center at the University of South Carolina.
We need to continue to elect independent representatives to our Council who can build on the legacy of those who came before us and look towards the future.
I have lived in Morris Plains with my husband John for 20 years, and we raised our four children here. It is important to me to stay involved in issues that affect our community by participating in council, planning board, and school board meetings.
Morris Plains residents have always been concerned about property taxes, traffic and maintaining our Borough’s friendly, small-town character. With our town facing unprecedented development and population growth due to our Fair Share Housing Settlement, these issues have taken on a new urgency. If elected, I will use my professional skills in communications and change management to help ensure that we have solid plans to address the impact on our roadways, essential services like fire, police and sanitation, and ultimately, on our taxes.
In order to maintain conservative budgets in this time of growth, if elected, I will work with the mayor and council to explore additional shared services, and new ways to connect residents with official town information and transactions. I will encourage a strategic approach to business development, both downtown and in our commercial districts. And I will develop a committee to explore ways to sustain Morris Plains for future generations through things like reduced reliance on fossil fuels, promoting environmentally friendly policies, and planning to alleviate the costly impact of more frequent extreme weather events.
I am a recognized leader in the community and possess the skills and experience to serve as a highly effective member of the Borough Council.
Since moving to Morris Plains with my husband John in 1998, I have taken an active role in giving back to the community while raising four children and building my business as a communications consultant to Fortune 500 companies. All four of my children have gone through the Morris Plains public schools, and I volunteered over the years with the Home & School Association, the school district’s goals committee and currently serve on the school’s social/emotional learning committee. I also have shared my professional skills with the Morris Plains Museum and Morris Area Community Blood Drives, helping to expand community engagement in these worthwhile organizations.
It has been an honor to serve for more than 10 years in leadership roles on the Morris Plains Municipal Alliance Committee. The Alliance works together with the police, the school district, health officials and the council to reduce the abuse of drugs and alcohol and the stigma of mental illness. In 2006, I was named Morris County Volunteer of the Year by the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the Freeholders for implementing programs to help seniors, youth and people with special needs. The Alliance gave me first-hand experience in analyzing the community’s needs, developing solutions, and working with town officials to implement them.