Trustee Walter Clarke Endorses Hilton, Haskins & Brown for South Orange BOT

by Walter Clarke
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Dear Editor,

I am writing to urge my fellow South Orange residents to vote Hilton, Haskins, Brown on May 11th. As an active community member for 23 years and Village Trustee for the last 8 years, I have a unique perspective on what makes our community successful and Karen Hilton, Bill Haskins, and Bobby Brown have what it takes. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with each of them on many community initiatives and they are all intelligent, hardworking, dedicated, and highly collaborative individuals who are able to keenly express their own desires while respecting and developing the needs and wishes of others to come to workable solutions for all. Which is basically what government should be about.

I ran for Village Trustee with Karen Hilton in 2019, and while she was already impressive, as trustee she has become more so as a leader, fierce public advocate, and facilitator of change. Karen’s leadership of the Finance and Capital Committee brought a new, more transparent and understandable budgeting system, with more input from the public, department heads, and trustees, and did so in one of the most difficult years in recent memory. Behind the scenes she listens closely and asks difficult questions, always including “what will South Orange residents receive from this expense?”

As liaison to the Environmental Commission, I have worked directly with Bill Haskins for the last three years on everything from securing grants, managing the EC and Green Team, developing environmental outreach communications, crafting laws, and physically digging holes to plant more trees. Bill is the rare pragmatist who can inspire, lead, and manage others or just roll up his sleeves and get it done himself. South Orange’s Reusable Bag Law was years in the making requiring research, interviews, stakeholder meetings, lobbying, lots of recrafting, and finally walking the streets to deliver the details to effected residents and businesses. Bill’s combination of easy-going demeanor and tenacity got it done.

Bill Haskins, Karen Hilton, and Bobby Brown

I first met Bobby Brown after the use of force report was released and a group of concerned citizens joined together to form what is now the Community Police Collaborative which Bobby leads. Bobby’s passion for bringing about social change was apparent but his calm demeanor and ability to respect multiple perspectives made him a leader within a group of leaders. As a lawyer he has skills in logical discourse and argument but can also be empathetic and flexible when needed. In the early days of COVID restrictions when park goers were resisting wearing masks to exercise in public many called for Police enforcement of the rule. Instead, Bobby joined the Recreation Director and me, walking sports fields talking to local athletes and using his sports background to make the case for individual health choices and community responsibility.

South Orange is a small town with big ambitions, so collaboration and inclusion are incredibly important to our shared quality of life. This group works well with others and works well with each other so please include your vote for HILTON, HASKINS, BROWN on May 11th!

Sincerely,

Walter Clarke

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