Maplewood TC Candidate Statement: Jerry Ryan

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The Village Green has offered each of the three candidates vying for two spots in the June 2 Democratic Primary for Maplewood Township Committee to submit a “Candidate’s Statement.” Here is Jerry Ryan‘s submission.

Jerry RyanThe best part of being in Maplewood is being a part of the civic life of the community. I have served as a volunteer and as an appointee on public and private civic organizations in this town for most of the time that I have lived here.

I’m honored to have been elected six times to serve on the Township Committee. Today I write to ask for your support for re-election, and to ask for your vote in the Democratic Primary on June 2.

I discovered Maplewood by a happy accident some thirty years ago. My family and I embraced the community, and the community welcomed and embraced us. Our town boasts outstanding schools, excellent recreation programs, beautiful parks and open spaces – the list is endless, and my family has benefited from it all. Our youngest is getting ready for Columbia High School in the fall, and we can’t wait to cheer for the Marching Band!

I believe very strongly in community service, and have “walked that walk” for my whole life. I try to approach this work in a thoughtful and analytic way, and to apply my knowledge and experience – as an engineer, as a teacher, and as a longtime Maplewood resident — to finding solutions that move us forward.

I have a record of collaborating with people throughout our community to deliver quality programs and services to all of our residents. I believe in engaging in responsible economic development, and in working to share services with other communities to help keep costs down. I think that my record in office shows the strength of my beliefs, and what I have tried to do to deliver for the people of Maplewood.

A lot of discussion in this election has focused on the important issue of economic development and redevelopment in Maplewood, most specifically the redevelopment of the post office. Like every redevelopment project in the Township, the post office project is the result of a long collaborative public process to determine the best solution for Maplewood. It represents a consensus after many years of discussion and review by dozens of concerned community members, including the Village Alliance, the Planning Board, and a host of local architects and design professionals.

I believe the development in its current form brings many advantages to Maplewood, including a reasonable number of new retail opportunities and new apartments that will benefit all of our residents and village businesses; the connection of existing parking lots to provide improved traffic flow; and the improved connections to the tunnel to Memorial Park. For this reason, I support the project and disagree with the notion of derailing it and ignoring the community consensus and extensive reviews that have happened up to this point.

I think it’s a shame when reasonable discussion and disagreement degenerates, and it’s unfortunate that it has happened in this election. Some in opposition feel a need to present drawings of a different building than is actually being proposed. Some imply underhanded doings on various sides. In opposition to the PILOT, the short term tax abatement being granted to the developer, there are those who erroneously claim that the Township will receive less money than they would if it were not abated. There are those that claim that a PILOT “takes money from our schools,” a statement which is not only factually incorrect, but personally incomprehensible. The notion that — as a teacher and a parent of several children who went through and are still in our schools — I would ever support any measure that involved taking money away from the schools is simply untrue.

I think we can all have a better conversation about it; and, indeed, for the most part we have been doing just that. I welcome the thoughtful exchange of ideas and am always available to discuss differing points of view.

I’d like to conclude by thanking you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I hope for the honor of serving you for three more years as a member of the Maplewood Township Committee. Please vote Line A in the Democratic Primary on June 2.

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