There are many issues we care about in Summit. Traffic, safety, schools, trash, parking, drainage, recycling and more. All of the issues are important, yet the number one concern for most residents is taxes, and the rate at which they keep rising: School Taxes, City Taxes, County Taxes.
We need to better across the board. The current Council has focused almost exclusively on school and city taxes. But, the fact is, we can no longer ignore, or worse, alienate the folks who hold the purse strings in Union County. I believe I am better prepared and positioned than either of my opponents to deliver improvements on county Taxes.
My opponent, Michael Vernotico, has in the past called for elimination of county government. I agree that our city government is more efficient than the County, and that less government is desirable. But the truth is, all the political grandstanding in the world on the evils of county government is not going to make county government go away.
My other opponent, Ellen Dickson, also has been publically hostile towards the county. Again, I agree that we can and should criticize the county but not without offering constructive solutions to get our fair share of tax dollars back.
Negative outbursts such as Ms. Dickson’s “I’m done with the county” and attacks on county projects that have actually generated a positive return to Summit (Open Space fund, with 160 percent return on investment) will not persuade Freeholders to deliver more dollars back to Summit for the major infrastructure repairs we badly need.
Instead, Summit should build upon Mayor Glatt’s approach of active, two-way dialogue with Union County. I will use the successful County projects (, Glenside Avenue fields, improvement of the Glenside and Morris Ave intersection, new traffic and walk signals and timing of all lights in Summit) to develop a good working relationship. This approach will result in more goodwill that we can then “spend” with the County.
This approach will take a lot of hard work. County dollars may continue to flow disproportionately to the county seat in Elizabeth and other less prosperous towns. However, that does not mean that we can’t press Union County, in partnership with surrounding towns to hold down county taxes and be more accountable for dollars spent.
It is my belief that Summit, actively partnered with its neighboring towns, can help Union County adopt the best practices that Summit has used to become more efficient.
We need a Mayor and Common Council who can have a dialogue with the county. I can deliver that dialogue. We won’t win every time we press an issue with the County, but if we’re not even talking to the county, then we’re not in the game, and we won’t win anything.
Eileen Forman Ludden
Candidate for Mayor of Summit