John Schneider of Jersey Bay Shore interviewed all three Highlands mayoral candidates.
Highlights Video #1 (Cliff Notes) – you can see the full videos by clicking below:
What is going on with Highlands?
Frank: “I do town hall meetings to let people know what’s going on, there is another one Oct 28th, residents will be given awards for their service over the last year.”
Becky: “We are (the council) are going through the same issues as the residents with FEMA and grants”, “We need a new borough hall”
Doug: “We have a lack of leadership & transparency post Sandy”
What are the most important issues?
Doug “Stabilize Taxes”
Why would YOU make a good Mayor
Frank “I’m a leader”
Becky “I know all the in’s and out’s of the borough & all the players involved”
Doug “I’m a problem solver”
How do you plan to reduce taxes?
Frank “Development, we need more people to split the tax bill”
Becky “Shared Services”
Doug “Get people back in their homes and maybe re-assess the High School”
Frank “If you build it they will come”, “Myself and other council members are trying to get businesses from CVS to relocate to Highlands”
Becky “We need to mitigate flooding before we can tackle getting businesses in town.
Doug “Look at the BID, there seems to be a disconnect between BID’s mission statement and what they do” “Needs to streamline mercantile process, uses Rick Hennessey as example.
Frank “Thought it was best for the town’
Becky “I was enticed by high rateables” “The current mayor streamlined it and I don’t know why we had to meet July 3rd”
Doug “Failed transparency on what was actually happening”
Frank – “We need grant writers” “We’re getting a professional Grant writer with the FEMA money”
Becky “We already do have grant writers internally.” “We have in the past been very successful at writing grants i.e. the fire truck they just got” “If we ever needed to get a grant for something beyond our expertise we would just contract out using our existing Engineering Firm”
Doug “We need professional grant writers”
Frank “I have residents that want to buy vacant residents and use them for commercial uses” – Uses Rick Hennessey as an example, “We need to do what the town needs instead of being upset over additional cars or tow trucks on Bay Ave”
Becky “It’s a process, how do we know they are really abandoned, if we demo them we lose the rateable for the house and only get rateables for the land”
Doug “Wants a Housing Advocate assigned to assess the properties and see what needs to be done”
What is going to be done to bring back Renters & Home Owners
Frank “I voted on eliminating permit fees but was voted down by the council” “Fielded a call from someone on the First Aid that was told by her contractor that it was going to take 6 months due to Highlands back log of processing permits, I called the construction office and had them streamline it, as mayor you need to be able to take the phone calls.”
Becky “I was on the housing committee for recovery, I found out we can send people to the Sea Bright Recovery Center and they won’t turn Highlands Residents away” “We just need to work with people”
Doug “Help the rental properties owners get their properties back together and signed off on for rentals again”
What is going to happen with the Borough Hall/PD & First Aid?
Frank “We should look at Shore Drive at existing property the town owns, we’d be out of the flood zone & our insurance premiums would be lower.”
Becky “We should look at existing property owned by the town on Shore Drive”
Doug “We need to look at going back to the existing Borough Hall, a new one is a 10 year goal, homeowners should be a first priority.”
What’s your plan on attracting new residents and retaining old ones?
Frank “Have to have reasons for people to come back” “Fix the flooding and Inflow problems”
Becky “I beg people to hang in there, assessments are going to go through the roof” “I encourage people to stay”
Doug “There are going to be an influx of new people from NY, young couples, a housing advocate can help them if they are going to be building new”
Highlights Video #2 (Cliff Notes to follow)
Highlights Video #3 Cliff Notes
Ethics & Values
Frank: No relatives working for the borough, doesn’t believe in nepotism and infers the other candidates do engage in nepotism or cronyism.
Becky; “No vote on the table is worth ruining my name over”, “Easy to talk to”, “Keeps priority list very short and do-able”
Doug: “My father was a school principal and we used to have dinner round table discussions, taught to respect others points of views”
How Did Sandy Impact You?
Frank: Had to be rescued, lived at the shelter for 17 days, his house and wife’s house were damaged. Was tentative about bringing little kids back downtown for a while after Sandy.
Becky: “My house wasn’t affected, but my parents house was, my brother on valley and my fiance’s daughter’s house was affected”, “My parents, their dog, Charlie’s 14 year old daughter came to live with me.”
Doug: “We moved back into our house the night Sandy hit, after being displaced from a fire. But everything was okay. When we had to raise to comply with FEMA after being substantially damaged from the fire, we were cursing FEMA, but after Sandy and having no damage, we were thanking FEMA.”
How much time can you commit?
Frank: about 20 hours, normally 4 – 5 meetings a week
Becky: It’s really a full time job, last year I figured I did 800 hours for the year.
Doug: It’s a full time job, I’m in a position where I can and I’m willing to commit full time.
What experience do you have to be Mayor?
Frank: “Life Experiences” “I went through the same things as everybody else, lost my home, wife’s family home.. all said and done a 50-60k loss”
Becky: “All the committees I’ve been on: FD, council, BID liaison, Henry Hudson School Board, Kavoojian field restoration committee, liaison for parks & rec’s etc.”
Doug: “Business experience at Caribbean International, proper note taking, booking keeping, contracts..”
How are you different than the other 2 candidates:
Frank: “I’m better than the other two.” “You can choose the guy who lead you through the last 2 storms and the blizzard before that or try something new and see where that gets you.”
Becky: “I’m a woman, they’re men” “I have the ability to listen, honesty is right there and integrity” “I’m not a yes person.”
Doug: “I am in leadership and know how to delegate, whereas Rebecca Kane is spread too thin on too many committees to effectively lead” “Frank has lack of transparency”
Vision for your term as Mayor:
Frank: “Stabilize rateables, go after abandoned homes.”
Becky: “Build a new Borough Hall or at least be ready to break ground”
Doug: “Implement the vision of community outlined in the committee meetings.”
What will you do better to communicate to residents?
Frank: “Get more involved in more groups.”
Becky: “Office Hours” “Not everyone has the Internet”
Doug: “Open Door Policy, improve on the web site”
Why should residents vote for you?
Frank: “3 years as Mayor, 3 years on council” “I’ve been a leader, lived in the shelter after the storm” “I’m downtown more than anybody else” “You know how to get in touch with me” “I’m not a Partisan guy, I work with Pallone and Christie” “I’ve earned it”
Becky: “Vote for someone who has the interests of the Community at large” “I have no ties with developers or builders” “Wants to make town better, clean walkable streets, safe, great schools”
Doug: “It’s time for a change” “Someone who wants to progressively evolve Highlands”