Llewellyn Jones Campaign Closing Statement
Thursday, October 31, 2013 • 10:10am
To the Editor:
The past 6 months have been a truly wonderful experience, walking the many neighborhoods of Scotch Plains and meeting with residents to learn their thoughts and concerns. There were many things I expected to hear, such as property taxes being an out-sized burden, and a strong willingness to pursue shared services. There were many things I learned, such as a strong desire to see a revitalization of the downtown area, and Scotch Plain’s commuters dislike for the process of obtaining Fanwood train station parking permits.
I put myself forward as a candidate for township council because I am deeply invested in this community. My wife and I have 2 small children, and we want this community to be a wonderful place for people to raise a family. At the same time, I want Scotch Plains to be an affordable place, so that people aren't forced to downsize and move away from family when their children graduate from the schools. I've been actively involved in the community immediately since moving to town. I've served on the township's zoning board of adjustment. I coach my son's soccer team. Our family are active participants at the JCC, and at our church.
By way of background, I have a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics. I have a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University in quantitative finance. I started my career in the capital markets division at Goldman Sachs. After 5 years I left to co-found a new finance company. We've been in business over 6 years now and are headquartered nearby in downtown Westfield, meaning I'm always convenient to Scotch Plains. My background as a financial professional makes me particularly well suited to serve on this council. I have the skills to dig into the budget and make sure the tax payer is getting the best bang for the buck.
As you go to make your decision to vote, I ask that you consider very carefully the issues of the past year. My opponent has a voting history, and I've stated very clearly where I disagree with a number of the actions taken. This year started with the wholesale dismissal of service providers and volunteers at town hall, costing taxpayers money while new providers get up to speed, and losing over a hundred years of experience off of township boards.
It followed with the termination of the township manager, passed off as a resignation. Even Scotch Plains TV was knocked off the air for much of the year, such that I've taken to recording the council meetings myself and posting them online for people to see. Even now, despite having new TV management, I'm still the only one making council meetings available online.
In June in a 3-2 vote the council adopted this year's budget, a budget that was poorly constructed in the absence of a professional manager and makes inappropriate use of several sources of funding, raiding both the sewer utility and the capital fund. It also represented priorities I don’t agree with, increasing the money spent on lawyers while slashing funds to the library. They spent thousands of dollars on a consultant to study the sewer utility to implement a campaign promise from last year, only to find out it was not feasible, and that they have raided the utility for so much money that next year we will have a sewer rate hike.
Quite recently, in the waning moments of the campaign, there was unveiled a plan to merge the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police departments. My opponent has tried to label me and "the republicans" as roadblocks to a police merger. The truth is that I support merging the police departments. But there is bi-partisan opposition to the "Joint Meeting" structure that has been proposed. In fact, at the recent police merger joint council meeting, of the approximately 50 residents who got up and spoke, not a single one spoke out in favor of this "Joint Meeting" structure. I recommend we merge the police departments, but using a better format, such as a traditional shared service.
Lastly, my opponent has supported the actions that will result in an end of the downtown SID and derail the best near term chances for revitalization of the downtown commercial district.
Scotch Plains, there is a clear difference between myself and my opponent on a number of these issues. If elected, I will work diligently to create fiscally responsible budgets, support revitalization of our downtown, move Scotch Plains forward technologically, and always remain accessible to help with your municipal concerns. You can read much more about my positions on the issues at www.jonesforscotchplains.com. I ask for your vote on November 5th.
Llewellyn Jones, Candidate for Scotch Plains Township Council