South Orange Village President Candidate Profile: Sheena Collum

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The South Orange Municipal Election will take place on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Up for election: Village President and three seats on the South Orange Village Board of Trustees (a six-person governing body). Terms are for four years. There is one candidate for Village President — Sheena Collum (incumbent) — and three candidates for BOT: Summer Jones (incumbent), Olivia Lewis-Chang and Jennifer Greenberg. The four are running together and unopposed. Candidates are invited to send profiles/statements. The following is from Sheena Collum:


Sheena Collum is currently seeking her third term as Village President and is proud to be running with three exceptional women who will continue the collaborative, progressive, and innovative approach to government that South Orange is known for. Elected in 2015, she was the first woman in the township’s history to serve as the community’s Chief Executive Officer, and today, she continues to concentrate her priorities on stabilizing property taxes, infrastructure and capital planning, economic development, citizen engagement, and streamlining municipal operations through consolidations, shared services, and the expansion of technology.

During her tenure, she worked to secure hundreds of millions of new investments in redevelopment projects while proudly meeting and exceeding the Village’s affordable housing obligations two years ahead of schedule. Sheena is most proud of her efforts to involve stakeholders, balance competing interests, and negotiate from a position of strength which has resulted in numerous Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) such as community co-retail and artist incubator spaces, various park improvements, and over 50,000 SF of new commercial space, creating a destination for shoppers, diners, and those seeking experiential service options. In the fall of 2022, the community welcomed back to life Village Hall, a historical icon transformed from municipal office space to a restaurant and beer garden igniting activity downtown while saving taxpayers over $10M – an effort Sheena led in her first term.

While new revenue from commercial corridors has played an essential role in helping shift the tax burden from single-family homeowners, Sheena understands and has worked on a variety of other cost-saving measures, most notably building operational efficiencies within departments, helping to secure over $15M in grants and tax credits, and moving towards more shared services and consolidations, including the merger of the South Orange and Maplewood Fire Department, the most prominent public safety consolidation of two towns in the State.

Working with her professional staff and colleagues on the Board of Trustees, Sheena is most proud that the financial outlook for the municipality has never been stronger. In both 2021 and 2022, the Village experienced back-to-back bond rating upgrades which will favorably impact the funding of capital projects, such as the long-awaited $15M new Baird Community Center nearing completion and the new 21st-century public library, Cameron Recreation Complex, and Vincent Monella Community Center in the pipeline.

Last year, Sheena received the “Outstanding Women in Municipal Government Award” from the New Jersey State League of Municipalities for her leadership and unwavering commitment to elevating women.

Professionally, Sheena is the Executive Director of the American Planning Association – New Jersey Chapter, a statewide planning organization whose mission is to help build stronger communities and provide more choices for how people work and live while meeting the challenges of both growth and change. In her role, Sheena regularly works with local and state officials, professional and nonprofit organizations, and state and federal agencies on a range of public policy issues affecting New Jersey’s municipalities, including smart growth, state and regional planning, transportation, public health, sustainability, economic development, redevelopment, and affordable housing.

A proud alumnus of Seton Hall University, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in public policy. She’s a second-generation Korean American and proud daughter of David and Oknan Collum, who have been her support system ever since she first announced her candidacy for the Board of Education in 4th grade and later was rejected due to not meeting age eligibility requirements.

In her spare time, Sheena loves being part of a SOMA Korean Women’s Supper Club, playing golf, training her Maltipoo Democracy, and beating people in scrabble. She loves the type of laughter that makes one’s face hurt.

The South Orange Municipal Election will take place on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Polls are open from 6:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

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