LETTER: In response to Madison Republican claims on climate, energy

TO THE EDITOR: I am writing specifically in response to the letter signed “Mary Wilson/Sherwood Avenue,” which opens with the suggestion that (Republican candidates for Borough Council) Matt Van Natten and Lenora Clark should be elected “because they offer a fresh perspective, balance and will put ‘Community First,’” and which features a completely-out-of-context “quotation” from (Democratic candidate for Borough Council), Tom Haralampoudis, as part of its attack.

At the council meeting of October 24, I listened to Mr. Haralampoudis’s knowledgeable and extensive comments on Madison’s grid, which he made in response to what has sadly become a feature of Borough Council Meetings: the sly use of the portion of meeting devoted to public commentary by the Republican candidates for Council Matt Van Natten and Leonora Clark, with a small pool of their political supporters, to campaign against incumbent Council member Rachel Ehrlich – and now extended to the other Democratic candidate for Council, Tom Haralampoudis.

It’s not a pretty sight – in meeting after meeting the same people (one of whom has proudly and publicly announced himself as a climate change denier) parade a series of imagined predictions for a dire future in which solar panels have reduced the number of users of Madison’s grid to a beleaguered few who (somehow) must foot the cost of the electric grid alone.

These same people protest the current purchase of hybrid vehicles and equipment (and even more loudly, the idea of all-electric future purchases) as fiscally and environmentally unsound. While it is true that there will be batteries that will need recycling for which we don’t yet have the technology, is it not more sensible to work toward that technology than to advocate increased reliance on fossil fuel sources?

Claims that regulations (which don’t exist and aren’t being proposed) will strangle “free choice” are proof of a willful unwillingness to recognize oft-reiterated fact that the Climate Action Committee is collecting and presenting information on the various energy options currently available to Madison residents facing hotter temperatures (please note that New Jersey has moved south one whole planting region), storms of greater and greater severity, and globally higher oil costs. The Climate Action Committee’s stated purpose is to inform.

In the current plans for adding solar panels to our grid, the council is following a standard practice of all surrounding towns. The consistent and very public efforts of the council to encourage mindful and lesser use of water and electricity stands in absolute contradiction to Ms. Wilson’s bizarre claim that “Tom [Haralampoudis], and the council, are actively encouraging residents to use more electricity to build their “electric slush fund.’

For candidates who put “Community First,” vote for:

1. Rachel Ehrlich, who has made remarkable contributions to Madison in her term on the council in strengthening Madison’s environmental awareness and practical responses to it (such as advanced recycling programs, renewable energy, improved public lighting, enhanced stormwater treatment), supporting our public schools, pickle ball courts and playground improvement, commissioning the Waverly Place redesign for traffic safety, and finding time to listen to – and respond to – residents’ concerns.

2. Tom Haralampoudis, who has decades of volunteer service in scouting, Morristown community soup kitchen, Interfaith food pantry, Madison Rotary Club, Madison Public Library Board of Trustees, the Madison Board of Health, as a board member for HQM, Inc. (formerly the Madison Housing Corporation), as president and founder of the Madison Junior School Sports. With his children, Tom organizes and support the annual Jersey Cares coat drive in town and collects and sorts over 1,000 coats that Jersey Cares distributes to shelters and soup kitchens around the state.