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Saturday, June 06, 2020
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(Note: It’s election time in Teaneck, where just under half of The Jewish Link readership lives and where we currently deliver our newspaper via free home delivery, to nearly 4,000 households.)

By the time you read this, all Teaneck homes and voters should have received by mail—I hope—the ballots for the upcoming town council election. First things first; Please  don’t throw them out! I know many are used to receiving sample paper ballots in your mailboxes but this year, Teaneck voters will be receiving the actual ballots with pre-paid return envelopes; no more samples. So don’t throw them out!

With virtually all other elections, we usually have to make a conscious decision and effort on Election Day to leave our homes or stop off on the way to or from work and spend 15 to 20 minutes heading to and from our nearby polling station to vote. For some it’s an easy decision to vote, others not so much. But not this year. This year is different due mainly to COVID-19.

This year, we have far fewer excuses or justifications for not voting. How hard is it to fill out and mail a paper ballot that’s delivered to our home? The bottom line is that it is not hard at all. I implore you, my friends, readers, and Teaneck voters, MUST make the effort to fill out and return those postage-paid ballots and vote. (And if you have college-age or adult children living at home full-time now like I do, or back from Israel, make sure they fill out their ballots and vote as well!)

As with all local elections, Teaneck’s vote-by-mail election this year represents a tremendous opportunity for all of us as citizens of the town of Teaneck, as well as members of the Jewish community. Our community’s impact and strength increases when our elected officials see that we vote and for whom we vote. The outcome of these elections have a direct and meaningful impact on our lives and wallets to the tune of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, annually. It greatly affects the quality of life here in town, which we all certainly have a vested interest in.

Now that I have provided you with the motivation to vote, the question is who to vote for.

To answer that question, I am proud to publicly endorse and support the Moving Teaneck Forward slate of current Deputy Mayor and Jewish Link co-publisher Mark (Mendy) Schwartz, Karen Orgen, and Michael Pagan. I strongly encourage our Teaneck readers and voters to join me in supporting them in this election.

Who are these three candidates? Why should you vote for them? Below I try to give you some facts, figures, and reasons to vote for each and all three together.

Mark (Mendy) Schwartz

In addition to being current deputy mayor, a council member since 2012, a 25-year resident of Teaneck, 18-year TVAC member and 22-year volunteer firefighter in River Edge, a successful real estate entrepreneur, longtime shul president at Cong. Shaare Tefillah, former board VP at Yavneh Academy and board member at TABC, and so much more. He is also my friend and partner at the Jewish Link and perhaps the most dedicated, responsive, and community-minded person I have ever met.

As all who know him and have interacted with him can attest, he always thinks first about what he can do for the institutions and people he cares about. The town of Teaneck and all its diverse communities and challenges is foremost amongst his priorities. He is unafraid to speak up or to respond to those who criticize him and speaks plainly, directly, and clearly and without airs or any attitude besides seeing what he can do to help solve the problems at hand. At heart, he is a nonstop doer, focused on building up our town and community and doing so in a way that helps all and enables our town to thrive.

Regarding his achievements on the town council and as deputy mayor, there are many to mention but I note here that he has overseen six years of town tax freezes, focused extensively on building up and redeveloping Teaneck’s existing business districts, and more recently, has thrown himself into the newly created and active Parking and Pedestrian Safety Committee which was established after the terrible December accident which took the life of Shelly Mermelstein and severely injured Micah Kaufman.

Mark (or Mendy as I call him) is running again for the last time, he says, because he wants to see through to completion all of the infrastructure upgrades and redevelopment that he has worked on for the past eight years. I hope he gets that chance, with your help.

Karen Orgen

A lifelong Teaneck resident, a local pharmacist, a former TVAC board president and TVAC life member, a former shul president at Cong. Shaare Tefillah, an altruistic kidney donor, and a member of Teaneck’s Planning Board since 2016, Karen is also someone who also understands what being an involved and engaged member of the Teaneck community is all about. As she wrote movingly in last week’s Jewish Link, she explained that she is running for town council in part because of the inspiration provided by her father, David Lew, a former Teaneck councilman and labor lawyer who passed away in 2005, who played a leading role in building many of Teaneck’s early Jewish institutions. She hopes to continue emulating her father, who, “was always willing to step up and get involved,” as she noted.

I have known Karen and her family for years, although not that closely, including her brother Rabbi Zvi Lew who was in RIETS/YU semicha together with me and is a highly regarded mechanech today, and I can tell you that she and her entire family are all cut from the same community-minded cloth. Karen is not loud nor flashy but she is well spoken, serious-minded and intensely devoted to her family, her town and her community. I am confident she will make an excellent Teaneck council member.

Michael Pagan

A Teaneck resident since 1986, a Teaneck High School graduate, a Temple University journalism graduate, a former Congressional and Senate aide, the press secretary for three NJ General Assembly Speakers, and currently serving as the public information officer for Bergen County, Michael Pagan is someone that I and my editors work and interact with on a regular basis. He has been, together with his boss, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, one of the leading faces and voices in Bergen County in the current COVID-19 crisis, especially in working with media and papers such as ours. I know firsthand that he works tirelessly on behalf of our county and community and we at The Jewish Link have also worked together with Michael on a number of Bergen County and Jewish community-related projects. In addition, Michael has been incredibly sensitive to all issues related to our community and even prior to joining the Moving Teaneck Forward slate, he developed a close and strong working relationship with my partner, Mark Schwartz.

Although I only met Michael a few years ago, I have come to know him as a dedicated public servant and someone who simply does not understand how someone would NOT want to serve and volunteer their spare time and energy on behalf of the greater good. Yes, he is one of those types of people who sees their time as belonging not to themselves but to their community and I feel proud to know and support someone like Michael.

Please vote for Moving Teaneck Forward (Schwartz, Orgen, and Pagan) and don’t forget to send in your ballot by May 12th.

Last but not least, if you did accidentally throw out the mail-in ballots or didn’t receive anything in the mail, don’t panic. To get a replacement ballot, please contact the Bergen County Clerk’s office at: 201 336 7020 or email them at: [email protected] 

By Moshe Kinderlehrer, 
Co-publisher, The Jewish Link
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