Four years ago when I became Madison’s first mayor re-elected to office in 32 years, I spoke about the many accomplishments we achieved during my first term and the continued work still to be done. Now as I look forward to a third term, I reflect on my eight years with great pride and gratitude to the people of Madison. Through my involvement with the League of Municipalities and the NJ Conference of Mayors, I constantly hear of the respect that leaders in other towns have for Madison. I believe that my positive leadership style has contributed to that in no small way.
As I look ahead, my focus will continue to be on these top areas: Keeping Madison a great place to live, quality of everyday life, fiscal responsibility and bringing a leadership style that builds bridges, finds common ground and invites everyone to the table.
At the end of my first term, we had managed to put our fiscal house back in order and had reversed a trend of neglect in our roads and sewers. By then we had completed our work with the strategic plan – a plan that has given us a solid and forward-looking roadmap for Madison’s future. We can now see the dividends from that effort paying off and in the case of the electric utility, literal dividends. The Electric utility continues to support all residents with revenue that goes to help finance both the operations budget and capital budget. And this year $2 million will be returned to our electric customers.
Today, Main Street USA is changing, and Madison’s downtown is evolving to meet the needs and is vibrant again. Under my direction, the Planning Board has simplified zoning regulations to make it easier for businesses to open. With the opening of Rose Hall in Madison, we now have families living right in our downtown, creating foot traffic with minimal auto traffic. Of course, the success of our downtown has created a new challenge; parking. I have heard the concerns of our residents and we have begun to roll out programs in the coming months to maximize our existing parking, giving shoppers more spaces closer to shops and more parking for merchants and employees. All these actions are fueling our vibrant downtown.
While I have made it a priority to maintain the character of Madison, we have seen tremendous growth in neighboring towns along Park Avenue, bringing more traffic through our community, not to mention an overburdened Route 24 freeway. Recently, I brought together leaders including all the Mayors in southeast Morris County and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill to discuss the impact on the residents of Madison. Coming out of that meeting was a commitment to work together to address these issues on a regional basis.
Prior to being elected mayor in 2011, I served two three-year terms on the Madison Borough Council. While on Council, I served as chairman of the Chatham Joint Meeting Finance Committee and was founding chair of the Shared Services Committee with the Board of Education and the Traffic Calming Committee. I am also a past chairman of the Madison Recreation Committee and was a member of the Open Space and Recreation & Historic Preservation Advisory Committees.
Having grown up in Madison, I know it to be a great community to live and work in. Along with my campaign partners, Maureen Byrne and Rachel Ehrlich, we look forward to continuing to make it better as your mayor and council representatives.