Maplewood Township Committee Candidate Statement: Mike Summersgill

The Village Green has invited the three candidates for the Maplewood Township Committee to submit statements for publication, which we will run as we receive them. Election day is November 7, 2017. The following statement is from candidate Mike Summersgill.
I have lived in Maplewood with my family for 9 years. In my time in Maplewood, I’ve seen what has worked and what needs to be improved. I’m running for the Maplewood Township Committee because I know we can do better. We can do better than year after year of the maximum tax increase allowed by law. We can do better than the years of vacant lots, empty store fronts, and businesses scraping by on Springfield Ave. We can do better than carrying $35 million in debt and paying 13% of our budget in debt expense this year. Everything we buy with debt costs more. I have the vision and the will to make these improvements.
Mike Summersgill

I have served with you in our community. I’m an active participant in the Maplewood Civic Association, 4th of July Committee, Hilton Neighborhood Association Executive Board, and South Mountain YMCA Board of Managers. I have served on the Township Pool Advisory and Senior Advisory Committees. I’ve contributed to the Two Towns for All Ages initiative and written Age Friendly guidelines for Township events.

As we carefully consider merging our Fire Department with the South Orange Fire Department, the township would benefit from my expertise. While the Manitou report showed a potential savings, it was very light on restructuring costs. It was also silent on the operational costs of dove-tailing seniority between the two depts. The report indicated that South Orange was less than forthcoming with its financials including “a review of salary, wages, and related compensation could not be completed due to a lack of documents or records” and showing the exact same operating cost ($72,000) each year across 3 years of activity. If South Orange’s cost were under-reported, Maplewood would bear the burden. We can’t enter into an agreement without validating the financial data. I have an Operations Research and Industrial Engineering degree from Cornell University. I understand shared services and have lead consolidation efforts for many of my clients. I am the right person to lead this complex operational and financial discussion on Maplewood’s behalf.

In the past 9 years I’ve seen our trend toward more and more development resulting in high-density residential buildings. Before I became engaged, I assumed that these were just projects built within the guidelines of our Township and were inevitable. What I’ve learned is we have several tools like PILOTs, Abatements, and Variances which we haven’t effectively used to ensure we get the outcomes we want. I don’t want more of these buildings. I don’t want to see Di Pietro’s or Gleason’s torn down to make way for apartments which stress our infrastructure – especially our schools. If you are opposed to this development, you should support my candidacy.

As a Republican, I am uniquely positioned to represent you on the Township Committee. I’m not beholden to the Democratic establishment endorsements which make (or break) Democratic candidates. I answer only to you. When something is wrong, I can speak publicly instead of keeping it behind closed doors. I’ll let you know when we aren’t getting it right and offer constructive alternatives. Better discussions bring better ideas and outcomes.

I hope you will consider balancing your vote on November 7th by selecting one Republican and one Democrat. Thank you for your consideration.

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