There are several challenges facing Morristown. The good news is we have a strong Administration and Council to address those challenges. Development and traffic are the two obvious challenges. The Town is in the process of completing a town-wide traffic study and the Council/Redevelopment Commission is committed that no further development will result in additional negative impacts on traffic. The not so obvious challenge is our budget and possible increase in our tax rate. The State is passing more expenses onto the Town, such as pension costs. A large portion of the Town’s expenses is labor costs and labor costs will increase year after year. This past year we saw a municipal tax increase for the first time in three years. I have led the Town in developing a practice of projecting the budget out five years. The current projection indicates that without changes to our cost structure or tax base, we will continue to see increases in our taxes. We must consider shared services with neighboring municipalities and the County. We must weigh the financial benefits of additional development against possible negative impacts on our quality of life. We need to consider what sectors of our Town are causing additional costs and examine who should fairly bare those direct costs.
I have enjoyed my last four years on the Council and I believe I have made a difference. I have proven myself to be a strong, fair, and independent voice for the residents of the First Ward. I vote as my constituents guide me; I seek their input not only on issues that come before the Council and Redevelopment Commission but also on the concerns they raise. The success of this ongoing dialogue has resulted in the residents of the First Ward becoming truly become engaged in our Town's governance. It is this style of representation I wish to continue.
Time and involvement provide a good candidate the historical knowledge and community relationships necessary to make good decisions. Experience, both successful and not so successful, sharpens a representative's leadership, analytical and collaboration skills. Four years ago, I was asked to run by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to continue the independent voice of my predecessor. At that time, the First Ward thought I was ready. I believe I have proven myself as an independent, committed, and knowledgeable voice for the First Ward. I have remained independent not just of a political party but also independent of any outside influences that might prejudice the decision process.
Physical and social division are the primary challenges facing approximately 20,000 Morristown residents. These conditions were first prompted by railroad construction in the early 1800s and deepened some 120 years later by the construction of Interstate 287. Commercial development may be further complicating these conditions, as we've seen with the HQ Plaza construction of 1985.
As Morristown currently sits on the brink of a transformational development project, I am running to represent residents and businesses of the First Ward on Town Council to maximize community benefits gained through the M-Station Redevelopment Agreement.
Primary challenges facing Morristown's First Ward include:
1. Traffic Congestion - Pedestrian/Cyclist Safety & Parking Needs
2. Open Space - Park Improvement & Land Preservation
3. Smart (Re)Development - Enhancing Quality of Life & Preserving Historic Qualities Defining Morristown
I plan to address these issues through widely accessible council representation. This means holding regular town hall-style meetings for residents and business of the First Ward, which will foster a well-informed citizenry that provides quality feedback to guide decision-making efforts on Town Council.
I’m a lifelong Morris County resident born 31 years ago, in the First Ward at Morristown Memorial Hospital. I was raised in Roxbury, during which time I volunteered for the Seeing Eye Foundation and raised three golden retrievers, all of whom graduated from their advanced training programs. I was awarded a scholarship from the Seeing Eye Foundation and graduated from Roxbury HS in 2006 prior to leaving for Trinity College in Hartford, CT.
In 2013, I returned from college with a passion for public service holding a bachelor's degree in political science, master's degree in public policy, and professional experience as Staff Assistant for United States Senator Joseph I. Lieberman. I am quite proud to be associated with a federal politician still lauded for his strong independent voice and for his consistent ability to work across competing schools of thought to deliver the best product on behalf of the constituents.
In 2014, without a roadmap to political careers in New Jersey, I began interning with MCDC. I developed community organizing skills and served as President of the Morris County Young Democrats from 2016-2018. These invaluable experiences fuel my aspiration for public service, and I've been working towards this opportunity ever since.
My passion for public service is also rooted in the legacy of my first cousin—Darlene Starnes—who passed away in 2017 and co-founded Morristown’s Community Family Day, which celebrated its 17th annual event in September.