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We Need Cindy's Leadership

For at least the last two decades, the current Mayor has been on Town Council or in the Mayor’s office, and fully controls most aspects of our municipal government. His political organization has broad reach in town, running candidates for school board, town council and his own races for Mayor. The organization that has backed him and his friends for so many years is now backing a candidate in this race and is also backing candidates for Council. We should sincerely think about the kind of person we want to be Mayor and in our municipal government. We have choices -- and they are pretty clear choices -- among the candidates for Mayor. Two candidates who are currently on Town Council, Cindy Matute-Brown and Susan McCartney, are at the end of their Council terms and are surrendering their Council seats by running for Mayor. Bill Rutherford, another candidate who is currently on the Council, will retain his seat for at least two more years if he does not win the Mayor’s race. A fourth likely entrant, Joe Krakoviak is well known in town for voting no on almost any proposal, but who very rarely offers ideas for the future. A question in this race therefore is: who do we want to remain serving in our municipal government and who will most effectively lead this town toward a brighter future?


1. Embracing Leadership - Ending Fear


People in town have told us that they are afraid that without the Mayor’s support, they will be excluded from participation in town government. Voters tell us that even if they want to support someone else, they can’t do so openly because of the fear they have of retribution. Now, we have an opportunity to eliminate that type of fear in West Orange. 


If we choose, we will have a Mayor who is supported by the same power brokers who have ruled this town for decades and who will carry on with essentially the same group of entrenched cronies who will run the administration pretty much the same way: without real leadership - failing to enforce zoning requirements, putting contracts up for bid only if the public or an elected official makes enough noise for that to happen, seeking development in our town without a plan, with no plan for managing our town’s debt, and who has zero vision for ways to address greenhouse gas emissions and our environment. That goes for tree preservation, greenhouse gas emissions, creative solutions for garbage, and green spaces.  


Cindy will give residents greater voice in our town government. She knows that we have so much talent in town and that the current way our municipal government works is wasting so much opportunity that we have to improve the lives of all of our residents. We need all voices at the table as we seek to control taxes, become leaders on the environment, and develop areas of our town in smart, cohesive ways. Cindy has proven during her four years on Council that she has the leadership ability to take us all forward. 


2. Dedication to Residents


We deserve representatives who will dig into the details and who will look for every opportunity to improve the lives of the people in West Orange. Our Mayor should forge relationships with other mayors, with the Essex County government, with the Governor and with our federal representatives to get resources and attention for West Orange. We have not had officials in our municipal government who effectively seek out such relationships and benefits for our residents for a very long time. If we are going to get our local tax burden under control, we need resources from every level of government. Right now we are not getting our fair share. As a result we experience increasing pressure on our municipal and school budgets and unless something changes, we inevitably will experience increased taxes. Unless we have someone who is dedicated to changing the system for the good of the residents who live here, we will continue to struggle with escalating costs and looming tax increases. 


Cindy has shown that she is dedicated to her constituents. She reads and scrutinizes every budget, knows the material put up for consideration, and puts in work for residents every single day. We have to decide if we want her to continue working for us, or if we are just fine letting her passion and talent go. Town government is a hard job. We need people who have experience in municipal government, who will work to create and maintain relationships that are beneficial to our town, who will show up and be dedicated to do the work on our behalf, who have no conflicting outside interests, and who have the vision identify and lead on issues that are important to our residents. She is the one candidate in the field who checks all of the boxes: she has vision, leadership, and dedication. By running for Mayor, Cindy is asking us -- do we want her working for us? We deserve to have someone this dedicated - who is willing to use her incredible energy on our behalf. 


3. Vision for West Orange


Inevitably, candidates in municipal elections offer platitudes and generalities, but little substantive proposal that voters may truly consider.  If we choose, we might choose a Mayor who talks a decent game, who has taken the “progressive” script and speaks in those platitudes and generalities, but who also lacks vision, dedication or ability to crystalize a plan and execute upon it, particularly when it comes to doing anything without personal benefit. Our new mayor might have very little or no experience in municipal government, and who has not shown us the ability to forge relationships and find common ground to work for people of the town. 


Our Choice


Our town stands at a crossroads and we have a choice to make. Do we carry on forward with more of the same from a person who has been in municipal government so long, and yet has no proven leadership abilities? Do we elect a person with very little municipal government experience who has not proven an understanding of the value of relationships, has no concrete vision, and who has not shown an ability to work with everyone in municipal government? Do we elect a person who has a proven ability to say no, but has never offered a vision for going forward? Or do we give ourselves a chance to do things in a more transparent, fair way with a person who digs in to make sure that everyone in town can get an equitable opportunity so that we can make the future brighter than our past? 


Cindy is offering a different opportunity for West Orange this year. Cindy has specific ideas in mind to make our town’s future brighter better and is offering details about how we should face our future together. Municipal government should be less about the ego of the office holder and more about the benefits to the residents who live in West Orange. This should not be about climbing up the rungs of the political ladder because you think you can use this town as a platform for higher office. We must decide if we want a mayor who will work with others, who will set ego aside for the good of the town, who will show up every day for the residents of the town, and who has the leadership capacity to achieve things. 


If we choose to keep Cindy working for us, we will get these things and will set ourselves on a course to a brighter future.     

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