April 20, 2024
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Bergenfield Town Council Election Approaches

Bergenfield—November 5 features elections for state positions, and a number of local positions like the town council seats in Bergenfield.

Democrats running for reelection include incumbent Mayor Carlos Aguasavivas, who was sworn in on April 18 after the death of Timothy Driscoll, Ora Kornbluth, Charlie Steinel and Rafael Marte. The mayor’s office works with a six-person council, each one elected for three year terms.

The three remaining seats on the council are held by Democrats Thomas Lodato and Hernando Rivera, and they do not open up until 2015, and Christopher Tully, who is running for Freeholder, a county position. Tully will not maintain his seat on the town council if elected Freeholder.

Republican mayoral candidate Norman Schmelz tops of the Republican slate with Patricia Walsh-Nardini; John Long and Kathy Sahlberg filling the ticket out. In the past, Schmelz and Walsh-Nardini have run, and in Walsh-Nardini’s case won, but Long and Sahlberg are new to the local political scene.

The candidates all have varied reasons for running. Kornbluth initially ran because she felt that as a woman and Orthodox Jew she could represent varied communities. Long, one of her opponents, is running to try and make sure the council isn’t staffed fully by Democrats.

“You can’t have everybody in the same party,” he said. “It’s not healthy.”

Sahlberg’s main focus would be being thriftier with tax dollars and being more open to the public. “I would like the town to know what’s going on before we decide on anything: it should just be brought to the public first.”

Steinel, who ran to fill a last minute vacancy three years ago, has enjoyed having the chance to hear the problems of constituents, and being able to do something about them. He’s also learned from becoming part of the process, specifically by trying to balance taxes with services.

“The overall way we go operating the borough, we’re really conscientious about where can we cut and where we can’t, ” Steinel said.

Steinel counts the work he did to repair emergency equipment as one of the most notable things he did with his tenure. Kornbluth noted that the town kept the tax rate at two percent even before Governor Chris Christie put the cap in place.

Under the current council, Bergenfield has also been rated as a runner-up in Bloomberg News Weekly’s best place to raise children in N.J., and is among the 100 best communities for young people, second safest city in the U.S., and having one of the most challenging high schools in the country. Despite the accolades, Schmelz doesn’t believe the current council respects the people of Bergenfield. He also believes that some of them aren’t qualified to be running a town.

“To me, I don’t feel comfortable having someone who can’t balance their business and home budget balancing the $30 million budget for the town,” Schmelz said about Aguasavivas.

Schmelz feels confidant in his ticket’s chances and said that in door-to-door polling, his team has found that a lot of Democrats are planning to cross party lines.

Elections will be on November 5. Vote column one for the Republican candidates and column two for the Democratic candidates.

By Aliza Chasan

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