Republican council CandidatE
Owner & Operator, Poofy Organics
What do you think is the best way for newer residents to learn about the community?
To truly find effective ways to communicate with new residents, the approach must be multifaceted. I would love to utilize the Rutherford Library as an official “Welcome Center”. A space could be created to offer a variety of materials that highlight all of the great offerings we have here in Rutherford, such as information concerning schools, public works, businesses, recreation, religious organizations, community events, volunteer opportunities and available community informational websites such as “This is Rutherford” and “Rutherford 365”. Businesses and professionals could contribute coupons, brochures or samples where appropriate. In addition, supplying realtors with “New Resident Welcome Packets” that include those offerings would expand that communication. Ryan and I would implement a program where resident volunteers could be utilized to tour Rutherford. Lastly, I would work with the borough website administrator to further enhance communication.
2. Do you think there is any way to reconfigure parking better in the downtown to make parking more convenient for shoppers?
As a Rutherford business owner, I know first-hand that the availability of convenient parking is essential to the success of our downtown shops and restaurants in Rutherford. First and foremost, Ryan and I will update and modernize parking meters in all business districts including the West End, Park Ave/Pierrepont section, Orient Way and the parking garage. Coin operated meters are a thing of the past and almost all towns are currently utilizing electronic alternatives that are operated by App on a phone. Worried about the cost? Don’t be. There are no up-front costs and companies are installing and servicing the meters by taking a portion of the new revenue generated. The increase in revenue Rutherford will obtain will no doubt be worth the small fees.
Ryan and I plan to review the 2016 proposal that was initiated to maximize parking spots and explore relocating employee permit parking to the top floor of the parking garage, as it remains empty. New signage would be installed in multiple locations, as it is always surprising just how many customers walk into my store and know nothing about the available parking garage. The parking garage would be updated with improved lighting and signage showing the business district path. A parking study would assist in making other key decisions and I would not be opposed to using that parking study to assess the possibility of converting Park Avenue from a two-way street to a one-way operation to create a more suitable and safer way to increase effective vehicle capacity and convert the street to diagonal parking on both sides.
3.What do you consider to be the most effective mode of communication to share news with the residents? How would you communicate news and events to the community if elected?
As members of council, Ryan and I have pledged complete transparency, so communication is an integral part of that promise. Council meetings need to be moved back to 7 pm rather than 6 pm for convenience and increased attendance for Rutherford residents. Summer meetings should be required. In addition, simple audio recordings are not enough or useful. All council meetings should have video recordings posted for ease of playback. As a Rutherford business owner, I see the importance of ongoing and timely communication with my customers. Communication should be regular and consistent. As a councilwoman, I will create a monthly online newsletter to highlight community happenings and build a social media account where residents could contact me effortlessly, as responding to feedback is important and Rutherford residents should know where they can turn to for help. As someone who is in constant contact with the 500 consultants who work for me and the main customer service contact for my business, I am always readily available to answer any concerns or questions for the residents of Rutherford. You will receive my respect, attention and response.
4.Do you think elected officials and appointed committee members should be required to follow a code of conduct when online and on social media?
Members in the public eye, including elected officials and appointed committee members should be held to higher standards when it comes to their behavior. By representing the people, government officials should lead with integrity. However, imposing a specific online code of conduct is problematic for a variety of reasons and there are many questions to consider. A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms, rules and responsibilities of, and or proper practices for an individual. By definition alone, imposing online codes of conduct would be arbitrary at best and leave room for interpretation. Who would structure the policy and who would enforce it? A typical online code of conduct includes restrictions on posting content that is offensive, hateful, or threatening, inciting violence or containing nudity or graphic violence. The range which exists in today’s society outlining what is considered “proper practices” is significant. Something that is clearly offensive or inflammatory to one group is accepted by another. Would fines be imposed for misconduct? Most codes of conduct show prejudice or discrimination typically against women. A prime example is a dress code. Would showing a picture of a woman nursing her child be considered nudity? What EXACTLY is “graphic violence”? Your answer could differ greatly from mine. Lastly, social media has blurred the line between personal and professional life, and I worry about government overreach in one’s privacy. How much restriction would be placed on sharing content and where would that restriction end? Would past transgressions be grandfathered into the policy? It involves too much vagueness and uncertainty. Although I justly agree that members of the government are to set examples for other members of society, I am not prepared to instill this degree of control with so much ambiguity. Rest assured, those who have engaged in shameful actions have had to ultimately accept the unpleasant consequences of their actions or decisions.
5. How would you mitigate traffic and pedestrian concerns around town, especially in and around school zones?
As a resident who lives across the street from Union School, I witness the careless and dangerous operating of motor vehicles daily. Our West End has been forgotten, especially for pedestrian safety which has a few difficult-to-control crossing locations. Its low visibility, commuter buses, increased foot traffic and large trucks making deliveries makes it one of the most dangerous sections in Rutherford. A safe school zone is a basic need and Union School is no stranger to the need for increased safety. Studies strongly suggest that drawing extra attention to school zone-specific laws helps to limit the occurrence of crashes and fatalities and are scientifically proven to reduce speeding. A School Zone Safety Plan would use proven tools to refocus driver attention such as Hyper-Alert flashing crosswalk indicators, painting fresh cross walks and radar speed signs which inform drivers of their current speed would help increase safety significantly. The speed limit around schools should be decreased and be clearly marked on the street. Advance warning and “end school zone” signs would alert drivers as they are entering or leaving the reduced speed limit areas. School crossing signs could be installed to call attention to the critical traffic points.
Increased police presence ensures the safety of our residents. Rutherford’s police force is proof. Typically, driver behavior improves instantly if a police vehicle is nearby. When drivers view the presence of the Rutherford Police Department frequently in a specific area, they habitually begin to obey the traffic expectations. Reduced speed zones will require them to be more vigilant as fines through school zones are higher than those for speeding elsewhere. Because the Rutherford Police Department is aware of the traffic and speed patterns in the area, their input to developing an effective traffic calming plan is important. Funding options would need to be identified and schools could look to their partner organizations to fund the School Zone Safety Plan and there a few entities that have identified goals of improving the health and safety of children. Many federal and state government agencies offer grant programs and often set aside tax revenue for the purpose of funding special projects. Upgrades to school properties and the streets surrounding schools can utilize these funds. Ryan and I agree that while improving the safety of our crosswalks has been initiated, there is much more work to be done.