On Tuesday, May 12, South Orange voters will head to the polls to cast their ballots for three seats on the Board of Trustees as well as for Village President.
Recently we asked the three Trustees who are running unopposed for re-election to answer a series of questions. (We also asked the two candidates vying for Village President a separate set of questions to be published shortly.)
Candidate Mark Rosner responds here:
Tell us about yourself: Where are you from? What neighborhood do you live in? What do you do for a living? How long have you lived in South Orange?
I grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan, married in 1976 and after our daughter was born we moved to Rego Park, Queens. We moved to South Orange in 1985 and lived in the South Mountain area until a few years ago when we downsized to an apartment in the downtown.
Professionally, I have been in the insurance business for thirty-five years and currently I am the Insurance Brokerage Director at Integrated Financial Concepts in midtown Manhattan. I have been commuting by train to NYC since I moved to South Orange and have made many friends over the years riding NJ Transit.
How long have you served as a Trustee?
I was appointed to the Board in November of 1998. Currently I chair the Planning and Zoning committee as well as being on the Public Safety committee and the Finance and IT committee. I am a board liaison to the Parking Authority, the development committee and Citizens Budget Advisory committee. I have been on all six of the standing committees over the years and chaired four of them.
What have been your proudest accomplishments as a member of the Board of Trustees?
We have had many accomplishments over the years, and I am proud of many of the things we have been able to get done. These include helping to improve our downtown and working with developers to bring great developments to South Orange as well as a wonderful supermarket. Other accomplishments include the continuing work on the River Corridor project which has included seeing new bridges for pedestrians and bicycles, having a comprehensive Vision Plan done and the project at 3rd and Valley which will bring about 75 additional parking spaces for our residents (commuters and shoppers). The town pool is a wonderful resource and we were able to expand the pool season by having it open on weekends starting on Memorial Day weekend.
What have been your biggest challenges as a Trustee? and what do you think are the biggest challenges facing South Orange?
Our challenges include keeping property taxes as stable as possible despite increases in salaries, decreased aid from the state, rising healthcare costs, larger state pension contributions and a greater demand for services. Over the past few years we have kept our increases to an average of under 1% while at the same time we have not eliminated any services.
Another challenge has been trying to deal with our infrastructure and some municipal buildings in great need of renovations. For years our maintenance was done using a band-aid approach due to having tight budgets. We need to evaluate all our needs and start renovating our buildings.
One challenge that we also must address is the funding formula for how Maplewood and South Orange portions of school funding is allocated since about 33% of the students are from South Orange but we pay 43% of the split between the two towns.
Where do you see South Orange in four years?
I feel that we can continue to improve the village over the next four years. There are more businesses and landlords investing in our downtown and, with the South Orange Village Center Alliance, there is a strong desire to make our downtown better. The Seton Village section of town is another area that we want to see to continue to see new businesses. I also see an increased demand for our houses based the ease of commuting to NYC and the large number of great homes in wonderful neighborhoods.
What is the best kept secret about South Orange?
The best kept secret is how many volunteers we have in this town that step up to the plate and help with everything including cleaning up the river, to helping with design of new signs for stores, and to the many who serve on our committees and statutory boards.
I hope everyone comes out and votes on May 12th!