South Orange Candidates Discuss Environment, Diversity & More at Academy Heights Forum

by The Village Green
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The Academy Heights Neighborhood Association hosted a forum on April 21 for the four candidates vying for three seats on the South Orange Board of Trustees. Election day is May 11.

The candidates are:

  • Braynard “Bobby” Brown, Bill Haskins and Karen Hilton running together as a team. The slate has a Facebook page and website.  Hilton is the lone incumbent in the race.
  •  Neil Chambers, running independently. Chambers’ Facebook page links to a Vote for Kids page.

Candidates answered the following questions:

  • How do you see the social justice responsibilities of the BOT with regard to environmental issues? (answered by Bill Haskins) 
  • What do you think the most important aspects of the master plan are? (Neil Chambers, with rebuttals by Karen Hilton, Bill Haskins and Bobby Brown.)
  • Do you have any ideas on how to promote high-density development in other areas of South Orange outside of Academy Heights? (Bobby Brown, with rebuttal by Neil Chambers)
  • South Orange has one of the lowest numbers of seniors that reside in the area. What are some ways we can make it more feasible for seniors to age in place? (Karen Hilton, rebuttal by Bobby Brown)
  • South Orange is knows for its diversity but recent Community Coalition on Race data shows that we are becoming less diverse. What are some suggestions that you have for retaining that diversity? (Bill Haskins, with rebuttals by Bobby Brown and Karen Hilton)
  • What is your biggest accomplishment (so far) in your volunteer efforts in South Orange? How will your leverage experience this if elected? (Karen Hilton)
  • In the master plan presentations it was discussed that 70% of the traffic on Valley Street is not local. As development increases, and we begin to commute again, what are your thoughts on improving pedestrian safety along this corridor? How would you engage Essex County to be on board for these improvements? (Bobby Brown, with rebuttal by Bill Haskins and Neil Chambers)
  • What are your thoughts on improving the recycling program? (Neil Chambers, with rebuttals by Bill Haskins and Karen Hilton)
  • How do you feel about shared services and consolidation? (Karen Hilton)
  • The Valley Street corridor seems to be left very down-trodden by town government. What would you like to see done to improve the look of the corridor? (Bobby Brown, with rebuttal by Neil Chambers)
  • What are you feelings on tree infrastructure? Should the town spend money to plant and maintain trees along streets and in parks? (Neil Chambers)
  • What will be your #1 priority for South Orange if elected? How will you work on that effort? (Bill Haskins)
  • What three trustee committees would you be most interested in serving on and why? (All four candidates answered.)

The content of the meeting starts about 22 minutes into the video Watch here:

Read more about the candidates here. 

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