April 14, 2024
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Fair Lawn Republican Council Candidates Strive for Unity

As June 8 rapidly approaches, Fair Lawn residents Glen Callons and Cindy Montano are gearing up to give back to the town they love so much. As the Fair Lawn Republican Council candidates, their platform is based on bringing the town together and ending the divisiveness that they have seen growing over the last year.

A lifelong resident of Fair Lawn, Glen Callons was a member of the Fair Lawn police department for 25 years. He served as a community relations officer—a role he cherished—because it opened up a whole new world for him, allowing him to forge deep bonds with his Jewish friends, neighbors and local business leaders.

During his community policing training, in which he specialized in security, he had the opportunity to meet with the many rabbis in Fair Lawn to discuss the safety issues that the Jewish community faces. “I was completely immersed. I got to meet so many great people,” he said.

Callons spent a lot of time at the various houses of worship reviewing safety measures, from how best to protect the congregants to securing the buildings. He even dealt with safety and security protocols for Torah scrolls and other articles of religious significance that the synagogues needed to safeguard. “Nobody understands the importance of having a safe community more than me,” he added.

Cindy Hsiu-Hsu Young Montano and her husband were drawn to Fair Lawn because of its diversity, and have lived there for 10 years. Her wish is to help shape the borough of Fair Lawn by making it a more inclusive and affordable place for people of all different backgrounds.

A graduate of Wharton and Harvard Business School, Montano plans on bringing her extensive expertise. “I’ve spent my entire career growing and developing businesses anywhere from 20 million to a billion dollars,” she said. “I have a lot of passion for our small businesses in town,”

Montano has been offering pro-bono business consulting to nonprofits for years, and plans to help Fair Lawn’s small businesses navigate, recover and rebuild from the struggles and losses they endured as a result of the pandemic. “I want to serve this community that I call home and I feel like right now with the pandemic I’m in a unique position to do so in this capacity,” she said. Checking in on small businesses around town to see how they’re doing and what they need, she hopes to establish a network of resources that would include workshops and coaching from volunteers.

Montano feels that too many people are simply not listening to each other, and wants to help foster and facilitate dialogue to help people understand the different cultures. “At the end of the day we all want the same thing. We just want a better life for ourselves and our families.”

Recognizing the vast and diverse nature of the Jewish community in Fair Lawn, Montano and Callons want to send the message that they are there to listen to the needs of this population and help out in any way they can.

As Montano explained, “It’s really listening to the communities to understand what it is that they need to feel safe.” She wants to put the message out “loud and clear” that hate crimes will not be tolerated. “Fair Lawn is stronger than that.”

Said Callons: “It’s our turn to listen. You are going to be heard. It’s time you start telling us, letting your town leadership know what you need that will make you feel more comfortable in town; safer in town; make this the best place possible. And that’s one of the things that we are going to bring.”

In fact, one of Montano and Callons’ goals is to establish an Interfaith Safety Council. While it will not be political in any way, it is meant to serve as a tool that residents can rely on for the betterment and safety of the people in Fair Lawn. The goal is to provide, through the council, the police department and houses of worship a stronger network. Their vision is that the Interfaith Safety Council will be an opportunity to share information, security techniques and many other ideas that aid the town’s residents.

“We believe that at the end of the day we all have the same goal. And that is, we want to make Fair Lawn a good place for everybody to live in,” Montano said, adding that “one thing that is very important to Fair Lawn’s residents is making sure Fair Lawn stays affordable.” She said that with property taxes and housing prices going up, it’s crucial that the town be fiscally conservative and responsible with the budget.

Montano wants to ensure that the town’s senior citizens, if they choose to, can afford to retire in the homes that they built their lives in, and young people feel comfortable buying their first homes and starting their families here. “We just want to make sure that we’re affordable to people that cross all the different demographics.”

Montano remembers how heartbroken she was when Mondelez International decided to relocate their operations away from Fair Lawn, which resulted not just in a loss of about 400 jobs, but also losses suffered by the ancillary businesses that catered to those employees. She plans to do what she can “to help attract new businesses to town, whether it’s companies or small businesses,” adding that she “would love for us to become a destination. We love our town, and we would love for more people to come to shop here, to dine here. That’s something I’m personally passionate about.”

Callons says that this election is “about Fair Lawn issues. This town gave me everything. It gave me my education; it gave me my career; it allowed me to raise my family here; let my kids go to school here. I just want to give back. That is my main goal.”

He recalls that when he retired, his friend Rabbi Neubort asked him if it would be all right if he could pray for him for everything he’s done for Fair Lawn and for his retirement. “The fact that he wanted to do that just touched me—his kindness, his warmth. He’s such a wonderful person.”

Although Callons is Catholic, he proudly wears a chai around his neck that he has been wearing since 2001. Given to him by one of his group members following the death of a female officer, it’s become a part of him. “I will be buried in this,” he declared. “It just means that much to me that the Jewish community was so kind and reached out and shared this thing for life. It means a lot, and I get to see it every day and take that with me.”

By Ronit Mershon

 

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