The Teaneck Council Election is on May 13, and while it may be hard to believe, that is less than a week away, so JLBC grabbed an opportunity to sit and talk with Eric Brauer, one of the candidates for the Council.
Eric, who recently retired from a career in sales, has been a Teaneck resident for more than 30 years, making him a witness to how the local Orthodox community in town first began to blossom in the late 70’s to become one of the finest Orthodox neighborhoods in America.
He is someone who has watched how the town grew, and how taxes impacted local families over the years. His platform places an emphasis on tax relief and on development/redevelopment in town. He is not a public figure in Teaneck, but he is a long-time public servant, who, through the years, has served as a volunteer on a plethora of local boards and commissions (Environmental Commission, Municipal Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Board, Site Plan Review Advisory Board, and the Teaneck Airplane Noise and Safety Task Force). He has been a member of the Teaneck Planning Board for more than a decade and is the Planning Board’s Vice-Chairman.
“It is a fact, I have been very involved in doing things for the town for a long time, and have been working behind the scenes, advising the Council …and I knew that at some point, I would run for a seat, and that time has come,” he told JLBC, in a straightforward way.
An accomplishment he is very proud of came from his work at the Teaneck Airplane Noise and Safety Task Force committee. They changed how planes approaching Teterboro Airport flew over Teaneck, prevented 737s from landing there, and instituted stiff sound restrictions.
In 2005, Brauer worked on the Master Plan for Teaneck—the long-term agenda that a township follows to chart its growth and enable it. (NJ law requires that every town to develop a Master Plan every ten years.) Eric has been deeply involved in planning Teaneck’s future for the last ten years. But man plans and God laughs. Because of the recession in 2008 and the local housing crash, much of what was in the plan could not come to fruition. Now that there is a recovery, Brauer is committed to seeing that the Master Plan’s vision becomes reality.
One of the things that inspired him and was pivotal in his leadership training, was taking the “Leadership Teaneck” course developed by past Teaneck Mayor Jacqueline Kates. “It was a great way to learn about the history of Teaneck and about the way our government works…and I wish they still offered it,” he said.
“I am trying to be a neutral, bi-partisan candidate focused on doing the best possible for the town and making Teaneck a better place to live. This (the council seat) is not something that I thought would be swell or fun to do…this is something that I feel I’ve earned over the years through what I’ve done for the town. I can put more time into being on the Council now that I am retired, and with the goals I am establishing for Teaneck, there is going to be a lot of work ahead.”
A major item on his list of goals is to found a Teaneck redevelopment agency and throw himself into its success. The two priority areas he identified as needing redevelopment are the Alfred Avenue industrial area and the Stop & Shop area just off Cedar Lane. He outlined a broad vision for turning the 23-acre Alfred Avenue area into a hotel, office and conference center. For the area near Stop & Shop in “downtown” Teaneck, he advocates more housing for retirees and seniors, more offices and business, green spaces, and creating a “destination” for people to work, shop, and visit, to breathe more life into the nearby Cedar Lane area.
“I have a vision for these next 10 years and beyond for Teaneck,” he said. “This is not a plan that will fix everything tomorrow. It is long-term strategic thinking about what can be achieved over the next 10+ years and how to get it done. I think I can bring the council my enthusiasm, my creativity and my determination to achieve this.”
If his plans are followed, he believes the town can generate much needed revenue in taxes and will boost local businesses. It would also give Teaneckers a sense of belonging, of investing in their town. Since much of the planned development won’t be residential, it won’t increase the tax burden on the town education budget.
Addressing the JLBC readership in the Jewish community and his relationship with the Jewish community, Brauer, who is not Jewish, explained that he grew up in a heavily Jewish area in Merrick, Long Island and attended “more bar mitzvahs than communions.” Many of his childhood friends are Jewish. He said, “I respect people who participate and are involved in their community and I really respect our local Orthodox Jewish community that is so involved with the town…a perfect example of this is the TVAC (Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps). Without the Orthodox volunteers, there would be no TVAC.”
Candidate Brauer is asking for the people of Teaneck to vote next Tuesday, and cast their ballots for him. With emphasis, he said, “If you are black, white, Muslim, Jewish, whoever you may be, I believe everyone here should have an equal opportunity to live good happy lives and that’s what I’ll work for in Teaneck.”
All Teaneck residents are urged to vote in a race that will determine the direction of Teaneck’s leadership and future.
By Moshe Kinderlehrer