As a lifelong Verona native, I proudly grew up on Ann Street, attended Our Lady of the Lake School and graduated from Verona High School in 1984.
After attending Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina where I gained my degree in Business, I returned to Verona and began my career as a builder and carpenter. I’ve been building homes and managing my contracting business for the past 30 years and have expanded my profession by becoming a licensed NJ Home Inspector.
Fifteen years ago, I ran into Jessica Pearson, a lifelong resident, friend and fellow 1984 VHS graduate– and hey now! Together we bought our home on Montclair Avenue and got hitched….
As a resident who feels a deep allegiance and heartfelt connection to the township, I began regularly attending Board of Adjustment, Planning Board and Verona Town Council meetings over 5 years ago.
The impetus grew out of a development that was being sought across the street from Annin Flag where the developer intended to rock blast for up to a year. The property is adjacent to many Verona residents living in century-old homes and our beloved Everett Field. I had to get involved.
Through this years-long process, I gained an extensive education and a substantial understanding of how each township body functions with each other. I also discovered that so many other issues existed in our town.
As a home owner and owner of multiple residential and commercial properties my tax bills were climbing at a rapid pace all while businesses in the downtown district were disappearing at alarming rates. Questions went without answers and many residents, including me, were frustrated. And so I became very vocal at the meetings. I stood up. I asked questions. I voiced concerns and asked for changes that I felt would be advantageous for the Township as a whole. Over this past year I began to feel that my time would be better spent on the other side of the podium, representing all of Verona’s voices.
My involvement deepened during the past two elections, where sensible new leadership began pointing out and acting on much of what I felt was going wrong in town. I became active in those leaders’ campaigns. I supported Alex Roman and Michael Nochimson in their bids for Council seats. And I can proudly say that I fully support our current Mayor, Kevin Ryan, in his bid for re-election.
These leaders have put a halt to much of the senseless spending that has burdened the Verona taxpayer and have placed Verona safely back on track. They’ve also made our local government much more transparent, as access to public information and documents has now become a simple, painless process. They’ve increased our safety by hiring new police officers, and have overhauled communications systems that had become obsolete and ineffective. Importantly, there have been no service cuts, something that is vitally important to all of us. I credit them and their sage actions for much of the progress that we’ve seen over the past two years.
Yet there are many challenges that lie ahead. We need to ensure that Verona preserves its character while allowing for smart, sustainable development. We need to manage infrastructure maintenance in the most cost-effective way. We need to bolster our business community, simplifying procedures and formulating policies that can help them make Verona their home too. And we need to implement pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly measures that make Verona’s streets and sidewalks safer for us all.
I have many attainable goals for Verona, a town that is unique and sets itself apart from others because of its people. We make it special. And because of that, I can promise to treat the Township employees and all of our residents with the respect that they deserve and to truly listen to the issues brought forth by them.
One thing that I have learned from attending meetings over the past five years is that we can always do better. I know I can help make “better” happen.
**NEW from Monday- 4-17-17 Council meeting