The 2 candidates for South Orange Village President and the 9 candidates for South Orange Board of Trustees answered questions on May 2 at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters at the South Orange Public Library.
The forum began with questions for the two VP candidates — current Village President Sheena Collum and current Trustee Deborah Davis Ford.
Interestingly, when Davis Ford was asked if her position with the Essex County Freeholders would present a conflict, Davis Ford said that it would not and that, indeed, it had aided her in building relationships with the other mayos in Essex County — most of whom, Davis Ford said, supported her candidacy. When asked to respond, Collum said she would not respond in order to not violate the rules of the forum to not disparage the other candidate.
The questions to the Village President candidates:
- 6:30: Why are you the better candidate for the office of Village President? – Collum answered first, followed by Davis Ford.
- 11:00: There is a trend toward redevelopment in the Village. Is there an optimum amount of redevelopment that should be approved? — Davis Ford answered first, followed by Collum at 13:30.
- 15:15: Shared services are seen as a way of curtailing municipal costs. What shared services would you pursue? What shared services would you NOT pursue? — Collum begins, followed by Davis Ford at 17:15.
- 19:00: South Orange train bridge needs repair, pot holes in roads, county road too. Do we have an answer?
- 21:45: What is your position on affordable housing for South Orange?
- 24:15: [To Ms. Davis Ford] How does your position as Clerk of the Essex County Freeholders interact if you are elected as Village President? Does it conflict? [Response by Collum at 26:00.]
- 27:00 Closing Statements
The Board of Trustees candidates portion of the forum begins at 31:20. All the candidates (Stacey Trimble-Borden, Bobby Brown, Donna Coallier, Toshie Davis, Ed Grossi, Summer Jones, Matt Wonski, Ed Moore, Bob Zuckerman) were given the opportunity to respond to make opening statements and answer questions:
- 35:30: Opening Statements
- 52:00: South Orange is in the process of developing a new Master Plan. Where would you plan for growth and where would you plan for conservation?
- 1:03: The NJ Force Report found 104 uses of force by the SOPD (from 2012 to 2016), a higher rate than 385 other NJ PDs. Do you think this is an acceptable rate? If not, how would you work to improve the situation?
- 1:14:20: What strategies do you have for seniors aging in place?
- 1:24:50: What are you plans for the Irvington Avenue Business Corridor?
- 1:35: Closing statements.
Dawn Clarke moderated the forum.