Please give the definition of transparency in politics and how would you try and expand it? Change is often used as a campaign buzzword — name the most important things you believe need change and why?
“Transparency” is the state of being “Transparent,” the latter of which means:
free from pretense or deceit, easily detected or seen through, readily understood, and/or characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.
In a nutshell, it means being straight with taxpayers, making the governing process as simple as possible so it is easy for residents to understand, and providing as much information as possible about township happenings, as well as the why and how decisions are made.
For Rina Franchino and I, transparency in local politics means the following:
- Being open and accessible to the residents of Berkeley Heights. Whether this be out and about in the community, talking to residents and hearing their concerns and feedback, communicating with them on social media, being sure to respond to their emails and/or phone calls, and overall just being willing to not just hear them, but to listen to them, as well. Then acting on what we hear.
- Not being afraid of pushing as much information out as possible through the many different communication venues we have available now, including our township website, official township and Council members Facebook pages, Instagram, newsletters and e-newsletters, TAP into Berkeley Heights, in-person community forums and videos, as well as Council meetings themselves. There is no “silver bullet” in this area but we should use all of these options to reach as many people as we can.
- Educating residents not only about what we’re doing, but why and how it affects them. Residents appreciate straight, honest answers even if they don’t agree with the decision being made.
Based on these criteria, it’s safe to say that Team Purple has greatly improved transparency in local politics, and we want to join their efforts to expand on the progress that’s been made in this area.
These are some important changes that I would like to have effect if elected – and all are part of being transparent with our residents.
- I want to improve our sports and recreation programs for children and families. Our Recreation Commission does a great job in all their programming and volunteers put a lot of effort into fundraising. As an active PAL parent I know we have to build on our progress in this area and we need to give the Recreation Commission and its volunteers the tools to succeed. I will work to bring together the different stakeholders in order to bring about these critical improvements. Adding more transparency here means having a Township Council member serve as a non-voting member of the Recreation Commission. That member will be responsible for reporting on fields and recreation during Township Council meetings, helping ensure our elected officials are well aware of plans being discussed to make these much-needed improvements. This will also allow our local leaders – from the top down – to help secure the money and resources to meet our recreation goals.
- We can’t afford to be in separate “silos” anymore; we must pool our collective resources, knowledge and experience and prioritize a long-term plan to not only improve and increase our playing fields and recreational opportunities, but in improving services for residents in all areas. One hand always needs to know what the other one is doing.
- Long-term planning and responsible management of redevelopment projects that have PILOTs attached (payment in lieu of taxes) will lead to Berkeley Heights being better able to keep taxes down in the future.
- We need to make sure more roads are repaired, and that they are fixed correctly the first time around. It’s frustrating to see roads like Dell or Riverbend being torn after they were paved because the initial work wasn’t done properly. So what are we doing to ensure that doesn’t happen? NOW, we are installing proper drainage underneath if roads need it before they are milled and paved, and we have hired a professional engineering company to design the roads projects, oversee them as they go, and make sure no vendor gets paid in entirety until the job is done to our satisfaction.
I encourage everyone to read more about Rina and me, and our detailed plans for Change We Can Agree On at www.bhteampurple.com. Please vote for Julie Figlar & Rina Franchino for Township Council on November 5th, Column A. Thank you for your support!