Democrats Want to End Tax Increases, Bring More Businesses to Town, and Reconnect with Residents
Candidates running for four ward seats and one at-large seat.
Editor's note: The follow article highlights the remaining candidates running for town council who were willing to be interviewed by Wayne Patch. Republican candidates Al Sadowski and Joseph Scuralli declined to be interviewed, while Nadine Bello, Franco Mazzei and Democratic candidate Matthew Giordano did not return repeated requests for interviews. Democratic candidate Chris McIntyre is running unopposed for re-election to represent the 5th Ward. Republican candidates Alan Purcell and James Jimenez were already featured.
Suzanne Pudup, At-Large
Pudup, a 30-year Wayne resident, is an elementary media specialist at Lafayette Elementary School. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pa., Pudup said one of the reasons she likes living in Wayne is because it reminds her of home.
An at-large candidate, Pudup said she wants to rebuild the township’s tax base and conduct a study to find out how much commercial property in Wayne is vacant.
“I want to make sure that our tax base is secure,” Pudup said.
As a self-described independent Democrat, Pudup said she will not simply vote for or against the same issues as her other Democratic council members. She said that too often, the current council people vote along party lines.
“For too many important issues in town, we’ve seen voting done as a block,” Pudup said.
Those issues include property tax relief and more collaboration among local officials.
Pudup proposes appointing a councilperson to act as a representative to the Board of Education.
“I think the Board of Education and the council need to work together to find more ways to save taxpayers money,” Pudup said. “Having someone in town government who is familiar with what’s going on with the Board of Education is critical, especially if their budget fails like it did this year.”
Pudup said she would communicate with residents through e-mail and over the phone. She said one incident that was particularly troubling to her is when hundreds of people showed up at a contentious meeting to ask council members not to reduce the education budget by a great deal.
“There needs to be a less adversarial relationship between the council and the people who were at the meeting who support education,” Pudup said.
Mickey Bradley, 4th Ward
Mickey Bradley wants to increase the township’s ratable base and ensure that future flood victims are adequately cared for during the next flood event.
Bradley is running for election to represent the 4th Ward.
Bradley said that his experience working as an inspector with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office has prepared him for a role in municipal government. He said he has “extensive” experience with creating budgets and reports regularly to the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Bradley, a 13-year resident, said that he is “100 percent” against a co-generation energy plan for the township, but believes in reducing the town’s carbon footprint.
“We need to find a way to cut our bills and bring more revenue streams into the town,” Bradley said. He recommends the town examine having future cell phone antennas and towers placed in one township-owned location, rather than spread them across town and have individual companies obtain the fees for allowing them on their property.
Bradley also wants to end the one-party, Republican rule in town.
“You can’t have a one-sided governmental forever,” Bradley. “You need checks and balances and different points of view.”
Bradley said that the town’s response to flooding needs to improve.
“The plan for responding to flooding can’t be to call the Red Cross and if they say no, not to provide basic needs like food, water, and shelter,” Bradley said.
Bradley said that more businesses need to move onto Route 23 and other areas of town that contain vacant properties. Redevelopment, he said, is critical to the town’s economic future.
“We need to build on what we already have,” he said.
Bradley wants to see more cooperation between township officials, regardless of party affiliation.
“We need to be conscious of trying to help each other more,” Bradley said. “It’s about making this place better for all of our families.”
Gary Marchese Sr., 1st Ward
Gary Marchese Sr. is running to represent the 1st Ward, perhaps the area of town that consistently receives the most amount of flooding. He said that the people in the ward have been looked down upon because of it.
“I think people need to be treated better in the 1st Ward,” Marchese said. “Everyone in town should be treated amicably, regardless of where they live.”
Marchese is a retired medicare supervisor for the Passaic County Board of Social Services. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration.
He said that flooding and taxes are the dominant areas of concern for people in the ward. He said that the town buying out homes in the Hoffman-Grove section of the ward is not the answer to alleviating flooding, which will also affect taxes.
“We’ll lose our tax base and the other people who aren’t bought out will have to make up the difference,” Marchese said.
He said that the Pasasic and the Pompton rivers need to be dredged and de-snagged, which will improve water flow and flooding conditions.
Marchese also said he is against rezoning wetlands in the ward to make way for new development.
Like his running mates, Marchese is tired of the one-party rule in town.
“I think if we elected one or two more [Democrats] there would be more discussion on issues,” Marchese. “There’s nothing wrong with having a dissenting view on something.”
Another issue that needs correcting is pollution, Marchese said, especially in the industrial area of the ward on Haul Road off of Newark Pompton Turnpike.
“Why do they allow it down there?" Marchese said. “It looks like a junkyard down there.”
Marchese said there is a new 12-house development going up on Fairfield Road, which, according to him, doesn’t make sense.
“Common sense should rule the day, not developers,” Marchese said.
Ray Egatz, 2nd Ward
Ray Egatz, a 40-year resident, wants people from different walks of life, and different political parties, to be elected to local office.
“This local form of government that we have is the most important one, I think,” Egatz said. “There is something special about it because you have a closeness between officials and who they represent that you don’t have in any other form of government.”
The Republicans’ current domination of Wayne government, Egatz said, does not serve the public’s best interest. Egatz is Wayne’s Democratic municipal leader.
“My goal has been and will be, to put people up on the council so there is a competition of ideas that gets shared between everyone,” Egatz said. “Solutions to problems come from the sharing of different ideas.”
Egatz said there needs to be more collaboration between officials, companies, and educators in order to improve the local economy.
“Wayne is an extremely attractive community and we have a world-class university and educated residents,” Egatz said. “We need to put it all together to promote economic growth. There needs to be more proactivity on the town’s part.”
Egatz suggested constructing a cultural center and having the New Jersey Hall of Fame located in town.
Egatz said that if elected he will never vote for a budget that increases residents’ taxes.
The on-going one-party rule in town must cease, Egatz said.
“If I’m elected, as long as our senior citizens and people on fixed incomes are being squeezed, we [Democrats] will vote for no budget that contains any tax increase,” Egatz said.
Egatz said that if elected, at the first council meeting, the Democrats would make a motion to rezone land off of Route 23, near the NJ Transit Center. He wants wetlands in the township to remain as such.
Sam Mirza, 6th Ward
As a manager, Sam Mirza has an open-door policy. He wants people to come and talk to him about what is on their minds.
“I will do the same thing if elected,” Mirza said. “I don’t see government communicating with people at all. It’s very strange.”
According to Mirza, elected officials must constantly communicate with their constituents.
“The government is supposed to listen to the people,” Mirza said. “They need to know what people’s recommendations and suggestions are.”
Trust is an integral part of the process, according to Mirza. And that trust must be repaired.
“We have to rebuild the trust that once existed between the government and the people it represents,” Mirza said. “I want to connect with people. If elected, I will take my role as councilman very, very seriously.”
Mirza, of Circassian origin, grew up in the southern part of Russia, and came to the United States in 1978.
“I want to bring back integrity and honesty to the township,” Mirza said.
Mirza said taxes have to be brought under control. He said his taxes have tripled since moving to the township 20 years ago.
“For all the taxes I pay, what services do I get,” Mirza asked.
Mirza said one way to alleviate the tax burden for residents is to get more businesses to come to Wayne.
“I’m very surprised by the amount of empty buildings I see around town,” Mirza said. “Businesses should want to come here. Giving tax breaks to business owners who come here is one way we could get those buildings filled.”
Although his house has never been flooded, Mirza said the township needs to improve the way it responds to flood events. The township did not set up a shelter for flood victims when Hurricane Irene hit North Jersey until the storm left the area.
“The current administration didn’t have a plan and didn’t take responsibility for what happened. They failed in their moral responsibility to the residents,” Mirza said. “If that keeps happening, how can we trust our government anymore?”