My name is Bret Sayre and I am running for the Berkeley Heights Town Council because I want to use my dedication to our community and my strong financial professional skill set to position our town for prosperity in the coming years and decades. I have lived in Berkeley Heights for nearly a decade, moving here when my daughter, Alyson, was less than two months old. And whether it has been the Moms Club delivering meals to our doorstep when our infant son had surgery or neighbors helping us run extension cords to their generator after Hurricane Sandy, we have been continually awed and inspired by the way regular people in our community help each other out and lift each other up.
I am a finance professional by trade and a small business owner in my spare time. I have spent the majority of my post-college career working in either accounting or compliance and have nearly twenty years of professional experience managing and balancing budgets, making tough decisions as the leader of a company and navigating complex regulatory environments. The financial and managerial experience I bring to the table will be extremely important as we face the tough task of revitalizing the Berkeley Heights economy post COVID-19. Susan Poage and I have already laid out a multi-point plan for this, and it’s appropriately called THRIVE. The five goals of this plan are to support proprietors, incentivize new businesses, create collective visibility, reduce empty storefronts and build community connectivity. We encourage you to read about it in more detail here. When our local businesses succeed, Berkeley Heights succeeds.
Additionally, taxpayers remain concerned about the gap between the amount they are paying in taxes and the services they receive in exchange. I want to use my financial experience in order to close that perceived gap, undo the consequences of the prior administration’s poor long-term financial planning and ensure that we do not continue to unduly burden our town with debt. We need to have real fiscal responsibility, which can be achieved by exploring more shared services, potential grants and other sources of revenue that can help augment what we collect in municipal taxes.
Over the last several years, Carolyn and I have been deeply involved in giving back to our community through various outlets. I have dedicated countless hours through volunteering as a youth sports coach in softball, baseball and basketball. As “Coach Bret,” I do my best to bring a positive attitude and a lot of smiles to the field because I understand that in elementary school developing a love for the game and appreciation for your teammates is more important than developing picture-perfect throwing mechanics.
My family is also incredibly passionate about supporting emergency services in town. Despite having young kids and a growing small business, a few years ago, Carolyn made the choice to become a Nationally Registered EMT because she saw an important need in our town. As a riding member of the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad, the example she sets is inspiring to us all and through her work, we have also gotten to know many members of the Berkeley Heights Fire and Police Departments. It has opened our eyes to their incredible sacrifice and dedication to our community.
We know how important it is to have a plan to help BH emerge from the economic effects of the pandemic in a strong financially stable position. But it also can’t be our only focus. There are many issues that are particularly important in our town from improving recreation to helping our seniors age in place to downtown development to sustainability and inclusion. So many people in our great town grew up in Berkeley Heights and are now raising families of their own here. It is now our turn to ensure that this generation of kids has a town they would be proud to return to when it is time for them to start a family.
The future of Berkeley Heights is ours to safeguard, and we can move forward in the most successful way by having a town council that represents the diversity and interests of all its residents. Seeing a familiar face from my active community involvement—whether it’s the baseball and softball fields, the latest school concert or a local emergency services event—with an active voice in our town government is important so that they feel their concerns can truly be heard. I am running so that face and that voice can be mine, and we set the right priorities for Berkeley Heights today, tomorrow and beyond.
For more information, please visit www.poageandsayreforbh.com.