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Monday, December 09, 2019

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I’ve served on the Highland Park Borough Council since January 2015. I’ve had the privilege of working with Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler and Council President Phil George since that time, and with Councilman Matt Hale since he began serving on the Council in July 2018.

These three dedicated public servants are up for re-election on Tuesday, June 4. While I’ve had disagreements with each of them over policy, I’ve enjoyed working with them because they are committed to effectively tackling quality of life issues affecting Highland Park residents on a daily basis.

In an effort to help stabilize property taxes, the mayor initiated meetings with other Middlesex County mayors and Governor Murphy’s Shared Services Czars Jordan Glatt and Nicolas Platt to explore additional opportunities for shared services. Mittler, George and Hale have promoted redevelopment, including the 130-134 Raritan Avenue (Popov/ANT Realty) redevelopment project, and projects at 139 Raritan Avenue and 31 River Road. In addition, their activities have focused on protecting our environment, include passing a plastic bag ordinance and approving an agreement with PSE&G for a solar field to be built on otherwise unusable land yielding new revenue and research on solar energy to benefit Highland Park.

Importantly, Mittler, George and Hale have listened to and addressed Highland Park residents’ concerns about equity in our borough, enhanced engagement with the community and improved transparency throughout municipal government.

Specifically, they have made efforts to address equity issues within Highland Park’s municipal agencies. The mayor and borough council authorized a Municipal ID Card program, to ensure that any resident without a driver’s license could have access to all municipal services, hired a consultant to conduct an archival study to examine police department traffic stop and or street stop data and established a citizen advisory commission, the Highland Park Equity Commission, which is tasked to assist in initiatives designed to stem profiling and implicit bias inside and outside municipal agencies.

Mittler, George and Hale have also regularly engaged with the community by holding neighborhood meetings and public forums. Outside of regularly scheduled council meetings, they’ve met with residents regarding security for houses of worship, hiring a new police chief, the borough’s immigration and refugee policy and redevelopment projects.

As for real transparency, they’ve openly addressed “The Force Report,” a 16-month investigation by NJ Advance Media at borough council meetings, decided on the mentor for Acting Police Chief Abrams, Chief Quovella Spruill, at the recommendation of the Highland Park Equity Commission, hired a Public Information Officer to communicate borough policies and initiatives via all forms of media and ensured that every taxpayer is provided with a detailed breakdown of the adopted municipal operating budget.

For all of the above reasons, I ask all those eligible to vote in Highland Park’s Democratic Primary, on Tuesday, June 4, to join me in voting for Column B to re-elect Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler, Council President Phil George and Councilman Matt Hale.

Josh Fine
Council Member
Borough of Highland Park