Livingston Council Candidates Square Off During Debate
Thursday, October 25, 2012 • 6:36am
LIVINGSTON, NJ - A town council candidate debate was held on Wednesday night at Livingston High School, hosted by the League of Women Voters, where Democrat candidates Al Anthony and Michael Silverman and Republican candidates Chuck Granata and Allan Feid, responded to residents' questions.
The event that was full to capacity began with two-minute opening statements from each candidate. Following the opening statements, two minute responses were allowed to answer two predetermined questions that candidates received ahead of time.
The first question answered by candidates was, “With regards to major expenditures, how would you make sure the public is considered?”
Silverman said that communicating better and more often as a community would help bring in public feedback regarding expensive projects.
“We will have open, honest, ethical discussions with town employees and residents,” Silverman said. “Weekly updates regarding the budget should also be distributed through the town newspapers.”
Granata said that town council’s current “cloak of secrecy is doing a disservice to residents.”
He explained that town council members don’t know home much over the budget has gone and if he were in office, these “sloppy accounting practices” wouldn’t take place.
The second question asked candidates what ways could taxes be decreased in Livingston.
Anthony told residents that different tactics could bring in revenue such as renting out buildings when not occupied, sharing services and filling empty buildings. He explained that his “pro-business attitude” would help get the task into motion.
Feid said that Livingston’s spending has increased this year over $3 million dollars compared to last and “we need to slow down spending and look at our building department because there are over costs going on.”
After the sixteen minutes were up from candidate responses, the floor was open for a Q&A where the public was allowed to ask those running for town council questions that related to specific issues.
Town resident Justin Alpert asked the four men what their vision for the future was in terms of parks and recreation.
In response, all men agreed that keeping the quality of Livingston’s parks and recreation programs were necessary.
“We need to keep [expenditures for] parks and recreation as high as possible and look for the most amount of money we can give to it,” Anthony said.
Feid said that he thinks parks and recreations are very important to Livingston.
“I am a firm believer in parks. I donate money to open space and really believe in the importance of it,” Feid said.
A resident of 6 Sycamore Avenue asked candidates to pick two projects that could help with economic development.
Silverman said the town needs more destination restaurants and businesses.
“I would also love to see a movie theater in town,” Silverman said. “Not only would these things bring people into town, but they would also support our businesses, as well.”
Granata agreed, but added that the restrictions business owners face in regards to signage does not help their businesses.
“Business owners have such restricted sign rules and it doesn’t help. We need to help advertise businesses in more than one way,” Granata said.
Larry Kohn asked candidates if the shuttle program were to have a deficit when voted into office, would they provide funding for the three remaining trial period months.
Granata said that he supports the shuttle and hopes it will be successful.
“I have no problem funding a project for a short period of time depending on how it's trending,” Granata said.
Both Silverman and Anthony agreed with Granata, as long as the shuttle continued to gain revenue.
Feid on the other hand, said he doesn’t see a future for the shuttle after riding it himself last week.
“I know the bus is something people want, but they should have done a better job finding out how many people want it,” Feid said. “I don’t see it lasting three months.”
The candidates received 1.5 minutes to make closing statements to the large crowd.
“Overall, I think they're good people (Anthony and Silverman) and have good intentions, but my concern is about how partisanship has clouded local government and it needs to change,” Granata said.
Silverman explained that he and Anthony want to keep Livingston moving forward.
“We are active volunteers looking to bring things forward,” Silverman said. “It’s time for Livingston to move forward—Livingston’s time is now.”