Conley, Byrne, Ehrlich Share Priorities and Goals for Campaign

Democratic candidates for Madison Borough Council in 2019, Madison Planning Board member Rachel Ehrlich, Mayor Bob Conley and Councilwoman Maureen Byrne are “Mad about Madison. Together, the candidates share their vision for Madison’s future and their campaign priorities. As they observe: “NJ Monthly naming Madison as its Top Town of 2019 means they’ve recognized what we’ve always known.”

Read on the Madison Eagle: Madison Democrats spell out goals and how they plan to reach them

Madison- In a joint announcement, Madison Mayor Bob Conley, Councilwoman Maureen Byrne and Planning Board member Rachel Ehrlich, announce the goals for their 2019 campaign. Conley and Byrne are running for reelection in 2019 and Ehrlich is running for her first term on the borough council.

The candidates state: “Now that NJ Monthly has named Madison its Top Town of 2019, they’ve recognized what we’ve always known: Madison is the ideal place to live, work and raise a family. A vibrant community like ours doesn’t just happen, and we believe that together, our team has the skills, experience, vision, and love for our community that will continue to make Madison the envy of our state.”

As elected officials, volunteers, parents and neighbors, we’ve had many opportunities to engage with the varied members of our Madison community. By listening to all the priorities, needs, and concerns that have been shared, we’ve focused our vision for Madison’s future on these key areas. To achieve our goals, we will:

Keep Madison a great place to live, by taking our common values and priorities and putting them into smart plans that deliver on our community’s needs and expectations. Our priorities are: preserving our neighborhood scale and historic buildings; planning for housing that is varied and affordable; and maximizing open spaces and recreational facilities.

Continue to improve our quality of everyday life, by committing to a downtown that is safe, dynamic and accessible. We pledge to provide a well-maintained infrastructure that makes Madison the envy of our neighbors. Our priorities are: making our streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers; continued capital investment in our roads, sewers and utilities; easing of traffic congestion imposed by neighboring towns; and improving downtown parking with creative changes that benefit residents and small business owners.

Mayor Conley shared: “Having grown up in Madison, I appreciate both the responsibility and opportunity that managing our beautiful town offers. Even a community with a rich history like Madison must constantly evolve and plan for the future. To do this well requires smart and thoughtful leadership and a team who can skillfully navigate forward while keeping the essence of Madison at heart.”

The candidates continued by sharing their focus on:

Fiscal responsibility: Being fiscally responsible is more than just stretching tax dollars. It’s about smart investments and partnerships that deliver high quality services with little to no tax increases while maintaining our coveted AAA rating. Our priorities are: continue to identify opportunities for shared service agreements that spread costs and promote efficiency; deliver unmatched reliability and increased dividends from our electric utility; and manage our budget and expenses with our future in mind.

Councilwoman Maureen Byrne stated “We approach the management of our complex budget with the same care as we do our household budgets. In 2019, municipal taxes saw a zero percent increase, and the electric utility dividend, which is payable to our residents as a rate reduction, was increased to $2 million.” Council candidate Rachel Ehrlich added, “In comparison to other AAA rated towns, our target budget surplus of 25% is in line with the median. This surplus remains available for the Borough to use in extraordinary circumstances while maintaining the structural balance of our budget. It’s a sign of good management to estimate revenues correctly and operate with a positive balance.”

The candidates also will prioritize:
The environment and sustainability: Madison has an opportunity to be a leader in innovative policies and programs that support a sustainable and healthy environment. We have already seen enthusiasm and broad support for reducing use of plastics, installing LED lights, and the pilot scooter program. Our priorities will be to explore bold, new initiatives that involve partnering with our neighbors, facing the threat of climate change by reducing Madison’s carbon footprint, and making Madison a model for other towns.

Specifically, we propose that the borough commission a new strategic planning effort to consider the impacts of climate change in the borough’s decision-making process. Planners will consider how policies and purchases may mitigate—-or contribute to—-the impacts of climate change, with a goal of increasing Madison’s resiliency and reducing its carbon emissions. Actions such as accelerating the installation of LED lighting and smart metering, increasing our electric utility’s wholesale purchase of renewable energy for distribution to our thousands of residential and commercial customers, and collaborating with other municipal electric utilities in New Jersey to identify opportunities for cooperative, utility-scale solar generation at an offsite location will be considered.

Mayor Conley added, “This effort will join a growing list of actions and initiatives that we have already approved or undertaken, including the purchase of two new hybrid engine police cruisers, the upcoming installation of six, grant-funded electric vehicle charging stations in public parking lots, and the recent introduction of the plastic bag ordinance. In addition, with the completion of our current program of upgrading to smart meters, the borough will introduce a new electric rate structure which will allow residents to save money by shifting power usage to off-peak hours. This will reduce the borough’s peak demand charges and the consequential need to buy power from coal-fired ‘peaker plants.’”

The candidates shared their final priority:

Trust, commitment and a track record of success. What makes a great leader? Respect for others, the ability to truly listen, a positive leadership style, a ‘can-do’ spirit, and the belief that we have more in common than not. These characteristics can’t be faked—you have it or you don’t. Our priorities are: continue to improve transparency and communications, to build on our already strong relationships with local, state and national leaders, to treat every Madison resident with respect, and to find common ground around our love for Madison.

The candidates concluded, “While we are proud of all the hard work that has led Madison to be recognized as the best place to live in New Jersey, we are also positive as we look ahead. We offer the best combination of skills, experience and vision that will deliver on what Madison voters expect from their representatives. We hope to earn your vote on November 5th and then get to work on building for Madison’s future.”