2021 South Orange Board of Trustees Candidate Statement: Bill Haskins

by Bill Haskins
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My wife and teenage daughter, who is a Columbia High School student, and I are 15 year renters here in South Orange.  

I have served as Chair of the South Orange Environmental Commission for three years, building on the groundwork laid by Jim McGowan and in close collaboration with Trustee Walter Clarke.  I am proud of my success in growing a corps of dedicated volunteers, taking on a myriad of projects.  We’ve cleaned up wooded areas where our kids play, planted native shrubs and trees to improve our vistas and help our pollinators, and reduced single-use plastic bags in our shops.  We’ve gotten kids involved in cleaning our river, joined forces with Seton Hall students to inventory our public trees and clear invasive plants to help encourage biodiversity, and engaged our seniors at our biannual Repair Café to fix broken items and keep stuff out of the landfill. On the paperwork side, we have sought and won grants and been recognized by Sustainable New Jersey.  There’s a whole lot to be proud of.

I’m running for Trustee to make sure environmental issues – which affect each and every one of us – stay foremost on the Board of Trustees agenda and to continue the work we have accomplished.  

Even with that lengthy outline of local environmental endeavors and my commitment to keeping sustainability front and center, I am not a one issue candidate.  With professional experience as an NYC construction project manager I’m ready to lend some expertise toward South Orange’s construction projects.  We’re all anxious to break ground on the River Greenway which will connect South Orange to Maplewood by way of a walking and bike path.  I’m prepared to be a broken record until that gets done and to keep things accountable and on track.  Our residents should feel comfortable not just in our parks, but on our busy streets, and, as Trustee, pedestrian safety will be a priority for me.  I also have an interest in facilitating affordable housing in the village and, with my love of reading and art, I’m excited to contribute ideas for innovative programming for our public library and in working with South Orange Recreation and Cultural Affairs.  Like the care of our open spaces, solid and diverse arts programming improves our quality of life.

Immediately upon being elected, I will focus on improving the environmental efficacy of our Recycling and Municipal Solid Waste programs. We have a lot of garbage and need to come up with a better option as to where it will go.  Villagers know the story; ocean garbage patches, overfilled landfills, incinerators that emit noxious fumes that are harmful to the health of already vulnerable communities – All of it always in neighborhoods that never wanted them. We know we can do better. With a full community commitment, we can do our part and reduce costs as well.

I am asking that you vote on May 11th for Line B – Hilton Haskins Brown.  But after you cast your ballot, I implore you to stay engaged, offer as many volunteer hours as you can, and follow up with us on the things that are important to you.  I look forward to receiving your email and responding to it with action.  Until then, I’ll see you on the running trail or through my binoculars tracking our spectacular NJ birds.  Visit HHBSO2021.com for more info!

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