Sunday, June 04, 2023

Marc Zharnest, a lifelong Fair Lawn resident, is running for re-election to the borough’s council this coming election day. The first Orthodox Jew to hold the position, Zharnest is running as part of The Cosgrove team, which includes the current mayor John Cosgrove and Amy Lefkowitz, who is seeking reelection as deputy mayor. Following the resignation of council member Dan Dunay, Zharnest was nominated by the Republican Committee for the council seat and was elected in a special election. Zharnest previously ran for council in 2015, where he lost by a narrow margin of 140 votes, less than one percent of the vote.

For his upcoming term, Zharnest is hoping to continue to “represent a population that hasn’t been represented before.” Zharnest has been a very active member of the Fair Lawn community. In addition to working with the borough’s zoning board, shuls, ambulance corps and fire department, Zharnest and his wife, Orit, are involved with NCSY and Sinai Schools.

Regarding his views on contributing to the betterment of the Fair Lawn Jewish community, Zharnest is adamant that with his role on the council he will stand by its best interest. “I think the Orthodox community wants from its local government what everyone else wants. Safe streets, quality services, a well-maintained infrastructure and recreational activities,” Zharnest said. “I don’t represent any special interests, but I am aware of the concerns of the Orthodox community and how decisions may impact [them] in particular. And I am and will be a voice for a growing group within our great town.”

Regarding what he felt were his biggest contributions to the council during his first term, Zharnest commented that he felt his work on refinancing the town’s debt was integral. Additionally, Zharnest stressed his commitment to the improvement of public safety through his work with police officers. “Fair Lawn is at a point where we need to move forward, not backwards,” Zharnest said, adding that his approach was proactive rather than reactive. As for Zharnest’s goals for his potential upcoming second term, he plans to ensure that ordinances stay updated and stable taxes continue. Zharnest also has a commitment to the borough’s infrastructure and is working toward strategies that will allow businesses to continue to flourish.

According to The Cosgrove team’s Facebook page, which has amassed nearly 600 follows and likes, another of Zharnest’s goals is to “continue the ‘era of progress’ in Fair Lawn.” In addition to frequently sharing posts and updates regarding his campaign, Zharnest uses the social media platform to spread awareness regarding certain issues the town is facing, and also to promote his campaign. “Promises made, promises kept,” a post detailing The Cosgrove’s team accomplishments explained. Some of the successes he details on the site include purchasing and introducing fuel-efficient vehicles, establishing a veterans’ affairs office and fixing and re-painting the town’s water tower.

“The growth, safety and prosperity of our town is my top priority,” Zharnest said in a recent video. “Whether as a councilman, president of the ambulance corps, a firefighter or a coach, I am committed to our community.”

As part of The Cosgrove team, Zharnest has worked consistently with the current mayor, John Cosgrove. “My focus is on providing the municipal services we want in a financially responsible manner, while also planning for our future,” he continued.

Outside of his work with the council, Zharnest has also been involved in the sports programs at yeshivas such as Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School and TABC, among others. Serving as the head soccer coach at Kushner, during his first season he led the varsity team to the championship game. With TABC, he led the team to the MYHSAL junior varsity league championship. Additionally, he also serves as the head coach of the YU women’s soccer team. Zharnest had played for the Maccabees himself when he attended YU in 2006.

Lefkowitz, the third member of The Cosgrove team, is the daughter of a rabbi. As the deputy mayor, she is also an attorney with over 15 years of experience. “As your deputy mayor, a homeowner and parent of young children, protecting the safety, growth and future of Fair Lawn are my highest priorities,” she said in a video.

Zharnest says that he welcomes all opinions and always is willing to share his plans for the future with those who wish to reach out to him. If you would like to learn more about Zharnest’s campaign, you can follow The Cosgrove team’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheCosgroveTeam/.

By Adam Samuel

 Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. When he isn’t busy reading the daily news, he divides his time between managing his blog, adamssoapbox.blog, and gradually learning how to play piano.


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