Trustee Donna Coallier Endorses Hilton, Haskins & Brown for South Orange Board of Trustees

by Donna Coallier
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To the editors:

Hilton, Haskins & Brown know how to effect change.

After two years serving on the South Orange Board of Trustees, I have a very different understanding of the role versus the one I imagined while campaigning. Structurally, we are an oversight body, which is of utmost importance. In practice, in addition to oversight, we provide a collection of synergistic skill sets that we lend to the community as needed to supplement the paid professionals on our administrative team. Most importantly: we are collaborative, respectful of differing points of views, and adept at finding the common ground we need to drive positive change for our community. And, we like each other!

When Trustees Walter Clarke and Steve Schnall “retire” from their public roles later this month, we will be losing two tremendously talented people. Trustee Clarke has been my “big brother” in acclimating to public service – his advice has been beyond invaluable. He stewards some of the most technically challenging aspects of Village operations: infrastructure (water, power, sewage), public works, and traffic. His willingness to dig in and get down to details is driven by his primary passion: our impact on the environment. Trustee Schnall is similarly passionate about the arts in our community: an area that is so important to residents and a huge draw for newcomers – our vibrant art scene very much impacts our property values and thus our tax collections. Walter and Steve will be deeply missed. Look for both to volunteer on Village committees where they will continue to have impact and please take some time to thank them for their dedication and service.

Portrait of Karen Hartshorn Hilton, Bill Haskins and Braynard 'Bobby' Brown

Karen Hartshorn Hilton, Bill Haskins and Braynard ‘Bobby’ Brown have teamed up to run for the South Orange Village Board of Trustees.

On May 11 we’re faced with a decision: how to replace these two impactful public servants and whether to re-elect Karen Hartshorn Hilton. Like Trustee Clarke, Trustee Hilton has been my “big sister” both as a campaign advisor and in acclimating as a Trustee. She shares Trustee Clarke’s focus on infrastructure and in particular for two of our most valuable local treasures: the Baird Center and our Library. As Finance & Capital Projects Chair, she’s driven tremendous progress in upgrading our finance processes.  Her commitments to our Seniors through our Two Towns program and our LGTBQ+ community come from deep in her heart. Come May 12, Trustee Hilton will be our voice of experience – she’ll be there to share pre-2019 perspective and background as we decide whether to stay the course, or course correct where necessary. Trustee Hilton’s re-election is a “must”!

Trustee Hilton is leading a powerful campaign ticket that includes Bill Haskins and Bobby Brown. Reiterating the importance of complementary skills and collaboration, I can’t think of two better candidates. Both are already deeply committed to positive change. As Chair of our Environmental Commission who brings road & construction process management to the table, Bill Haskins is well suited to step into the infrastructure role that Trustee Clarke leaves behind. And as Chair of our Community Police Collaborative and a coach who is dedicated to equity and developing our youth into leaders, Bobby Brown brings important passions to the table. He also happens to be a lawyer and has an MBA – a skill combination that we can certainly put to good use.

Most importantly, each member of the Hilton Haskins Brown ticket has demonstrated the ability to effect change in a positive, collaborative fashion. These are not angry people who agitate with harsh words and then expect others to do the heavy lifting. Karen, Bill and Bobby are open-minded, kind, collaborative people who tap their anger about the issues to channel it. They then roll up their sleeves and make change happen. I am delighted to endorse all three of them as they seek to serve our Village as Trustees. 

Donna Coallier

South Orange New Jersey

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