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New Providence-Berkeley Heights-Mountainside Election Guide

Here, a guide to Council, Board of Education elections in New Providence, Berkeley Heights, Mountainside; County Freeholder, NJ Senate, 7th Congressional District races.

Editor's Note: For ongoing election updates, follow New Providence-Berkeley Heights Patch on Facebook and Twitter.

For complete coverage, bookmark our New Providence-Berkeley Heights-Mountainside Elections 2012 page.


While numerous residents in New Providence, Berkeley Heights and Mountainside are still without power today due to damages sustained from Hurricane Sandy, the polls will still be open for those who are ready to get out and vote for the 2012 election.

All New Providence and Mountainside polling locations have remained the same. There is only one polling location change in Berkeley Heights. To view polling locations by each town district, click here: http://patch.com/A-zsP5

 

NEW PROVIDENCE

BOROUGH COUNCIL

Three candidates — Gary Kapner, Alan G. Lesnewich and Victor Moschella — are running for two open seats on New Providence Borough Council.

Alan G. Lesnewich

Lesnewich, a Republican and life-long New Providence resident, is seeking reelection for the unexpired term he has filled since January of 2011.

Lesnewich, a partner at Fisher & Phillips, LLP in Murray Hill, has been the President of New Providence Athletic Foundation since 2006, leads a team of volunteers to improve athletic facilities around the borough, and has served as a coach in New Providence. His top achievements include the installations of artifical turf and lights at Lieder Field.

Gary Kapner

A Republican and a 20-year resident of New Providence, Kapner is running for his first New Providence Borough Council term.

Kapner, a co-owner of Creative Wallcoverings and Interiors in the borough with his wife, Rachel, is also a founding member and former president of the New Providence Business and Professional Association. He has also served as a member of New Providence Downtown Improvement District and a New Providence Planning Board Member.

For more information about Lesnewich and Kapner, click here: www.facebook.com/AlanLesnewichAndGaryKapnerforNPBC

To read Kapner's personal statement, click here: http://patch.com/B-c3V9

Victor Moschella

Moschella, the Assistant Vice President of Facilities at Saint Barnabas Health Care System, is running as an Independent candidate for New Providence Borough Council.

Moschella, who ran for council in 2010, has also been very involved around New Providence. In February, he held a Municipal Consolidation Forum with Courage to Connent. He has also served as a coach, was commended with the New Providence Good Citizen Award, and is a member of the Open Space Advisory Board.

Recent Council Candidate Forum

Before Hurricane Sandy hit our area, all three candidates met at the New Providence Memorial Library for a League of Women Voters Candidates' Forum.

Several issues were brought up during the forum. Here, what each candidate had to say about the top issues:

Financing Recreational Improvements

A top issue of the night was how New Providence Council will finance improvements to the borough's recreational facilities, especially since several facilities require improvements at this time.

Lesnewich, who leads the Council's Capital Improvement Committee, said Hillview Field is the first facility to be improved and will be paid for through bonds, the borough's Open Space Fund, and a matching grant from Union County Kids Recreation Trust Fund. But he said he would leave the financial decisions for recreation improvements up to the New Providence CFO.

Moschella disagreed with Lesnewich, saying he would not bond money for recreation improvements since "recreation is a luxury" and improvements shouldn't be done unless the borough already has the money. He said he would save the money for it, not take out loans.

Kapner said he doesn't agree that "recreation is a luxury" and said he would approve of bonding recreational improvements.

Municipal Consolidation

A top issue brought up throughout the night was consolidationg or merging New Providence with a nearby town so there would just be one government — meaning one mayor, one town council or committee, one police department, one fire department, one school district, one Board of Education, and so on.

Lesnewich and Kapner, who are running on the same ticket, said they are opposed to merging or consolidating New Providence with a nearby municipality. Lesnewich said New Providence is doing well all on its own, while Kapner said the cost of consolidation may be high and may not even save the borough any money.

Moschella said New Providence should seriously consider consolidation because you can only continue services in two ways — by reducing services or by increasing taxes — and the current system will not last.

Emergency Dispatching

One resident asked if each candidate would support allowing the county to handle emergency dispatching for any medical, police or fire calls.

The candidates agreed that emergency dispatching should stay local, although Moshella said it shouldn't be "as local as it is now."

Moschella, Kapner and Lesnewich said they oppose any movement toward the county.

BOARD OF EDUCATION

There are three candidates running for three open seats on the New Providence Board of Education. Each term is 3 years.

Incumbents Adam M. Smith and William H. Dibble are running for additional terms.

New Providence resident Robert Dinerman is also running for a term on the board.

 

MOUNTAINSIDE

BOROUGH COUNCIL

William R. Lane

Lane, a resident of Mountainside since 1995 and a councilman for eleven years, is seeking another term on Mountainside Borough Council.

Lane served as Council President for two years. His portfolio includes Fire, Channel 35, Recreation, Rescue Squad, and Board of Education.

Robert W. Messler

Messler, who has lived in Mountainside since 1970 and has served as a councilman for eight years, is seeking another term on council.

Messler’s portfolio includes: Administrative and Executive, Solid Waste/Recycling, Board of Tax Appeals, Public Works/Facilities, Planning Board, Board of Tax Assessors, Police, and Construction Board of Appeals.

BOARD OF EDUCATION

Kate Motz and Jeane Parker are seeking two open, three-year term seats on the Mountainside Board of Education.

 

BERKELEY HEIGHTS

TOWNSHIP COUNCIL

Craig S. Pastore

Pastore, a Republican and the current Council Vice President, is running for his second term on Berkeley Heights Town Council.

Living in Berkeley Heights for 20 years with his family, Pastore said he has served as a volunteer youth sports coach and has chaired the township’s Recreation Committee.

Kevin Hall

Hall, a Republican and current Council President, is running for his second term on council.

Hall has lived in Berkeley Heights with his wife for 16 years and has served as a volunteer on the Environmental Commission and Planning Board. Hall also served as the Planning Board Council representative.

Michael Simon

Simon, a democrat, is seeking his first term on Council.

Hall is a former Assistant US Attorney with the Department of Homeland Security, who is now in private practice. He has lived in Berkeley Heights for four and a half years with his family.

Recent Council Candidate Forum

On the same night as the New Providence Candidate forum, all three candidates met at the Governor Livingston High School Auditorium for a League of Women Voters Candidates’ Forum.

Numerous issues were raised throughout the night. Here are some of the major issues discussed. You can read our full article here: http://patch.com/A-yXSW

Downtown Berkeley Heights

A major running point brought up by Simon was the development of the downtown area of Berkeley Heights.

“One of my top priorities is to see all the store fronts filled in the Downtown Development Zone,” Simon said. 

Simon also talked about expanding the role of the Beautification Committee to help fill the void in the downtown area. 

Seceding from Union County & River Flooding

While Simon focused on downtown development, Hall and Pastore discussed the possibility of seceding from Union County and how to make Berkeley Heights safer from flooding, with Hurricane Sandy in the our midst.

Pastore expressed that the town council and the Division of Public Works were working on the “de-snagging of trees in smaller streams to prevent flooding.”

Hall supported that notion by saying “tree trimming programs in November will be put in place so the trees don’t hit power lines.”  

Along with safety from the elements, the two council members were insistent on finding a way for Berkeley Heights to break free from Union County. But Simon called separating from the County a “mute point because NJ Legislature wouldn’t sign off on it.”

Hall and Pastore said they believe Union County is spending too much of Berkeley Heights tax dollars on other towns.  

“Anybody who sees it as a mute point doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Pastore said. “Around 550 people, non-union, are getting lifetime benefits. Union County is spending all willy nilly.”

Hall added, “The cost doesn’t add up to the service. Fourteen million dollars each year goes to Union County and there are questions about Union County’s spending. We want to investigate other opportunities.”

The Berkeley Aquatic Club's Proposed Facility

Hall and Pastore stressed that the Berkeley Aquatic Club isn’t cooperating well with , which the BAC wants to build in a residential area on the Warren Township border. Hall said all talks with the BAC are being “facilitated through an attorney.”

Simon suggested that if he were elected, he would try to find a spot in Berkeley Heights for the Aquatic Club instead of moving it out of town.

BOARD OF EDUCATION

Incumbents Doug Reinstein and Mary Ann Walsh are seeking two, three-year term seats on the Berkeley Heights Board of Education.

 

UNION COUNTY BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS: THREE SEATS OPEN

Six candidates are competing for three openings on the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Candidates include:

DemocratsL Alexander Mirabella, of Fanwood, Democrat, currently serving as chairman of the Freeholder Board; Mohamed S. Jalloh, a Democrat, from Roselle, finishing up his first term; Bruce H. Bergen, of Springfield, joins the incumbents on the Democrat side;

Republicans challengers: Diane Barabas of Westfield; Stephen Kozlovich of Union; Krzysztof Chris T. Nowak of Cranford

 

SEVENTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: ONE SEAT OPEN

New Providence, Berkeley Heights and Mountainside are also located in the 7th Congressional District. Locals will be choosing between incumbent U.S. Representative Leonard Lance, a Republican, and challenger Upendra Chivukula, a Democrat. It will be an uphill battle for Chivukula: Lance won his primary race against David Larsen handily. Chivukula has banded with other Asian Congressional candidates to enlist support for his campaign.

 

NJ SENATE: ONE SEAT OPEN

New Providence, Berkeley Heights and Mountainside residents will also get to vote for either State Senator Joseph Kyrillos (R) and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D) in the race for one of the two U.S. Senate seats representing New Jersey — currently held by Menendez. Kyrillos has already gone on the attack against Menendez in his primary election victory speech, calling Menendez a "mediocre" senator and stating, "Our unemployment rate, our soaring national debt, our out-of-control spending—these are all getting worse because of policies that Senator Menendez supports." In a statement on primary election night, Menendez said, he looked "forward to a campaign that will focus on and discuss the differences between us in an honorable way." Kyrillos' candidacy was endorsed earlier this year by his friend and fellow Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

 

—Toniann Antonelli and Brian Woods contributed to this report.

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