Patch reached out to the four candidates running for two Borough Council seats and asked them questions about themselves and their vision for the community.
Republican incumbents Linda Clifton and Donna Gould are being challenged by Democrats Joe Altomonte and Bonnie Krause. Polls open on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Below are the responses from Councilwoman Donna Gould, who currently serves as president of the governing body.
Can you please provide a brief bio, including how long you’ve lived in Matawan and your ties to the community?
I am a 23 year resident of Matawan and live with my husband Martin on Miriam Drive. I have two children and five grandchildren. I am the principle owner of Phoenix Media, a nationally recognized public relations firm that specializes in publicity for publishers and authors. I also produce a nationally syndicated health/medical radio show: YOU The Owner’s Manual with host Dr. Michael Roizen M.D. I am the current Council President and Chairperson of the Personnel, Construction and Community Development Committees and I also serve on the Streets and Roads and ADA Committees. I am a cancer survivor and an active member of the American Cancer Society for their Reach for Recovery Program.
What are your motivations for running for elected office?
My reason for running for council is my commitment to Matawan, and my passion to serve the residents. I believe that my experience, both as a business owner, and my years of previous service on council, I am the best candidate. My experience gives me the ability to understand the issues and deal with them in a positive way to benefit the resident. I am honest and hardworking and will continue to put the residents of Matawan first. When a problem may arise, I look for ways to address it until it is solved. Hard decisions need to be made with the taxpayers in mind. My philosophy is simple: reduce spending, eliminate excess waste while maintaining core services, focus on needs, not wants, and continue to look for ways to expand shared services, while maintaining safety and security. I am fully aware that every dollar we spend comes from families like yours…We expect our citizens to do more with less, and government should do the same. I believe in volunteering. It’s important to look for places where volunteer work is possible, such as recreation, health, libraries and. Number one priority is to make sure we are financially where we need to be both short and long term and to continue downtown and train station redevelopment.
What new ideas do you have for Matawan?
We need to continue the borough’s efforts to revitalize and grow Matawan, not only at the train station, but Main Street, as well as along Route 34. We need to aggressively and creatively look for ways to decrease our budget, while maintaining essential services for Matawan. We also need to continue our road program that will insure, enhance and upgrade our streets and roads, to insure the safety for our residents. Lastly, we need to expand our efforts to seek additional shared services with neighboring municipalities and school district. It’s simple: consolidating services is a proven cost effective plan for the borough that will save us money. The above steps, I believe will address some of the major issues facing our community, and will help to insure that Matawan is moving in the right direction.
What challenges does Matawan currently face, and what do you plan to do to address them?
Matawan is not unlike any other municipal or community. We must look for development that will enhance our community and at the same time, provide additional tax revenue. The planning/zoning board recently approved an application for a new mixed-use project at the Walgreens Site on Route 34. One that will include a restaurant, shops, outdoor amenities, shuttle transportation to the train station, and most important, will tie-into the Main Street area. We are also working with businesses on Main Street with grants that will assist them with improvements to their building exteriors. So, we are moving in the right direction.
Property taxes are always a concern, especially in New Jersey. How can Matawan control taxes?
The first goal that needs to be achieved is fiscal stability. We need to look at alternate revenue streams and become less reliant on increasing property taxes. Infrastructure is important, quality of life is important, but without fiscal responsibility we will be unable to address any of those other issues.
What accomplishments in your private life translates positively to a position in public office?
I am a cancer survivor. I never give up, and nothing ever stops me. I always find the time to help someone, and I will always try to find a solution to a problem. Second, I own and operate a successful public relations firm for over 18 years and I know instinctively how to work and communicate with people on a day to day basis. All my clients are treated with honesty and respect and I use those same principles as a councilperson.