When my family moved to Madison in 2015, we chose Madison for its vibrant and walkable downtown and excellent school system. We were thrilled to move to a lively neighborhood with sidewalks, a bike lane, and welcoming neighbors. Seven years later, we love that Madison, the “#1 Best Town in New Jersey” is a strong community to raise our son and enjoy an active life built around the importance of place and the spirit of volunteerism.
In 2019 I was elected to the Madison Borough Council. In my first year in office, I served as Council Liaison for Utilities. In that role, I worked with Chief Financial Officer Jim Burnet to encourage long-term thinking about our electric and water utilities, both in planning for a decarbonized future and reinvesting financially in our community.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 in March 2020, the borough council was faced with an immediate need to help members of the community who were being adversely impacted by the pandemic. We quickly enacted the Mayor’s COVID-19 Relief Toolkit, which included an electric bill credit of up to $200 for Madison residents who were furloughed or laid-off and a credit of up to $400 for businesses in town that were required to close or otherwise suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic.
That same year, the council set aside $200,000 for a utility-scale renewable energy initiative for our electric utility, demonstrating that Madison could provide direct relief in times of economic stress while establishing a long-term vision for a safe and healthy community through a fossil-free future.
As a member of the 2021 Ad Hoc Committee on Affordable Housing, I advocated for high quality, contextual, and energy-efficient design for our municipally sponsored affordable housing development on Walnut Street and Community Place.
Currently I serve as the Council Liaison for Engineering and Public Works. Throughout 2021, I partnered with green team members from Madison Environmental Commission and the Sustainable Madison Advisory Committee to create and adopt the January 2022 Climate Action Resolution for Madison, which acknowledges the threat of climate change and aligns the borough with the New Jersey state Energy Master Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Prior to serving on council, I was a member of the Planning Board and the Master Plan subcommittee, where I worked to identify actions that the borough could take to preserve the consistency and architectural appeal of our residential neighborhoods, encourage the principles of smart development in line with our Master Plan, and cultivate a vibrant downtown that brims with the activity and charm that draws so many families to our community. I was appointed to the Master Plan Steering Committee after taking office, and Madison’s new, forward-looking Master Plan was adopted in 2020.
Professionally, I am a licensed architect with 18 years of experience. I am an Associate Principal and Studio Director at Dattner Architects, a mid-sized architecture firm in New York. My specialty is the design and construction of high-performance, energy efficient, affordable housing in New York City.
Looking forward, I believe that we must continue to work locally to protect our environment and systemically reduce Madison’s greenhouse gas emissions while cutting our energy costs. Investment in our downtown, the heart of Madison community, must continue with enhancements to public access and wayfinding. Our streets must be safe for pedestrians, cyclists, children, and seniors– not just the cars speeding through. And we must continue to adopt sound municipal budgets that reflect our values, with capital and operating budgets that deliver the infrastructure investments and high level of services that Madisonians expect and enjoy. With prudent planning, we can continue to invest wisely in the aspects of civic life that make Madison a highly desirable place to live and work.
Anyone with questions or ideas can reach out to me by email any time.
You can read more about the Rachel Ehrlich and Tom Haralampoudis campaign in our announcement press release.