This article was originally published in the Westfield Leader on October 8, 2020.
A few weeks ago, the Graham/Kearney campaign for Borough Council released our Four Point Plan for a Strong Garwood. While all four components are critical to effective local government, increasing transparency may be the most essential way to make sure our town stays well informed and avoids the pitfalls of unsubstantiated rumor. I am extremely proud to have co-founded Garwood LIVE, where I have “focused” a camera on public meetings in the Borough since 2018.
With the unique challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, I was able to use the Garwood LIVE platform in a few new ways. First, with hundreds of people following our Facebook page, we were able to help direct residents into the phone conference meetings which originally replaced in-person Council meetings. With those meetings now being held by video conference, we were able to resume broadcasting them while creating a video record. Secondly, we have set up regular direct real-time communication with Mayor Todisco online. We even had both Finance Chair/Councilman Marc Lazarow as well as Streets and Roads Chair/Council President Jen Blumenstock on for live question and answer sessions on topics as varied as COVID-19 responses, the budget process, and the ongoing paving/sidewalk work going on in the Borough.
If elected, I will push for additional town hall meetings and online question and answer sessions with the Mayor and members of the Council as well as for increasing the frequency of updates to the Borough’s website and official social media channels. With COVID-19 appearing to be with us for the time being, providing avenues for the public to access both their elected representatives as well as government information online will be essential.
Online question and answer sessions, just like the in-person town hall style meeting, will become a valuable part of getting feedback from the public. Even once we are beyond COVID-19, the ease of access and the convenience of being able to interact directly with our elected officials will be both expected and commonplace. This will help to broker productive dialogue in solving the many challenges our town may face in the future.
My focus on government transparency also ties in with another part of our platform: enhanced communications. Creating online forms to handle Borough business and digitizing Borough records will again ease public access and provide a clear understanding of the process in which decisions are made as well as an opportunity to reexamine areas of concern that may otherwise go unnoticed in ordinances and resolutions.
I feel so strongly about these two topics that I will push for the creation of a dedicated Communications committee on the Council to address these areas going forward.
To learn more about these issues, or our Four Point Plan for a Strong Garwood, please visit our website at http://www.dems4garwood.com or reach out to me anytime at 908-413-5615. I look forward to continuing these conversations, and hope I can earn everyone’s support on November 3rd. I encourage everyone to cast their ballot for Column A, the Graham/Kearney ticket for a strong Garwood.
Garwood Council Candidate