My name is Susan Poage and I am running for my second term on Town Council. I am a 27 year resident of Berkeley Heights. This is my 18th year teaching in Berkeley Heights. Even before quarantine, I could go a few weeks and never leave Berkeley Heights. Which is a good thing, because I love this town.
While I love this town, I know there are some issues we face. The municipal complex must get finished. We must continue to fix our aging infrastructure- from the wastewater treatment plant to our roads and drainage issue. We must learn again to speak to our neighbors with civility and work together for a common goal. When civil discourse is practiced, work gets done.
Governing requires varied skills. I have a range of work experiences that bring different skill sets to my work on the council. As a journalist, I learned how to effectively communicate. As a salesperson, I learned how to work with people and do whatever needed to be done to get the job done. Working for my family business, I learned the importance of managing employees and the art of balancing receivables and payables. My longest career to date is as a teacher. To become a master teacher one must have strong leadership abilities, which include having strong communication, critical thinking, and technical skills, having passion and creativity and learning to evolve. This year, my work in a teacher leadership cohort expanded my understanding of how to effectively work in groups and how people gather, create, represent and pass on knowledge.
Having served on council for one term already, I truly understand how much local government impacts people in their day-to-day existence and I want to continue the work I started, making changes that positively impact residents.
- Change in government structure: The creation of the Grants Committee was successful in its rookie year, securing almost $ 100,000 and received the Municipal Innovation Award. I support the new advisory boards Mayor Devanney has thoughtfully added to the structure of governance which tackle issues such as economic development both pre and post Covid, looking out for our senior citizens who just want to age in place, and racial healing.
- Change in local law: After analyzing outdated ordinances for our sewer department and working with the director, an updated system for inspections was developed that also saves the township money. Additions to the ordinance, as well as public service information for residents, are helping protect one of the most valuable infrastructures in the township. I worked with the Township Attorney to update our Peddler and Solicitor Ordinance and this spring the No Knock Ordinance was passed, which will enable residents to sign up so for-profit solicitors will not be allowed to knock at their residence.
- Change in long-term vision: As a member of the Planning Board and a member of the Master Plan Sub-committee, I have had the opportunity to give input on how Berkeley Heights looks for the next 10 years; those decisions are not always easy, but I committed myself to doing what is right. A lot of development is coming to Berkeley Heights from our Affordable Housing requirement and smart planning can ensure that the projects are developed with the whole community in mind.
- Change in vision: I am a big proponent of sharing services between the county and the Township, between towns within the county and other counties. Shared services in a state of 565 municipalities is the one of the most effective ways the township can save money. Some examples of shared service agreements I supported: The municipal court services shared with New Providence, the Union County 911 dispatch, the DPW director shared with Union County and the new Salt Dome is shared with Union County which will also generate $1 million in revenue over the term of the agreement..
According to business philosopher, Jim Rohn “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”
I believe my work on the Council and for the residents of Berkeley Heights represents what Berkeley Heights needs: Fiscal responsibility, honesty, vision, passion, energy, creativity, and transparency. They are Right Priorities for Berkeley Heights. Please make sure to visit our website where you can see our platform: https://poageandsayreforbh.com/ and other articles of interest.