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 Linda Clifton:
Can you please provide a brief bio, including how long you’ve lived in Matawan and your ties to the community?
As a 31 year resident of Matawan Borough, I live with my husband Bill on Crescent Place. I have three children and two grandchildren. I am a proud graduate of the Matawan Regional School system. I attended Kean University and graduated with a degree in Marketing. I’ve worked in the insurance industry for over 20 years and currently work for an international insurance company.
What are your motivations for running for elected office?
My family has deep roots in Matawan and my enthusiasm to serve the residents of Matawan has never waned. I volunteered as a member of the Downtown Matawan Alliance, which amongst several of their accomplishments, was the establishment of the Pocket Park near the Matawan Post Office. I have a strong belief in giving back to ones community. My experience both as a volunteer and councilperson has given me the ability to understand the important issues and to act upon them in the best interest of the Matawan residents.
What new ideas do you have for Matawan?
We must continue to build on what has been started. Matawan has some new and exciting businesses that have decided to make Matawan's Main Street their home. Papa Ganache Bakery, (Who won the Cupcake award on The Food Network) and the Aim Dance Academy. We are also pursuing grants from various private and public agency. We are sponsoring businesses on Main Street that want to apply for a facade grant under Monmouth County's "Grow Monmouth" program. I am pleased to say that 2 of our businesses on Main Street have been approved so far under this program.
As the Council Liaison to the Recreation Committee, I serve as its chairperson. This year, working with our Director of Recreation and dedicated volunteers, I am happy to say we brought back the fireworks over Lake Lefferts. This event was attended by thousands of residents and their families and friends at different viewing areas around the borough.
Also, with the funds the recreation department received from the various events and last year's Turkey Trot, we were able to purchase and build a Gazebo at the Municipal Center on Broad Street. This Gazebo will now be used for future recreational events, including the Holiday Tree Lighting. The gazebo was constructed by Matawan volunteers, and has been used for several wedding ceremonies by Matawan residents.
We have also enhanced many of our other recreation events and programs. Our summer recreation for our children has been growing each year, and includes numerous field trips, outdoor activities with inflatable rides and a host of other programs for our children.
What challenges does Matawan currently face, and what do you plan to do to address them?
Each municipality is facing the same challenges as Matawan. Taxes must be controlled and alternate revenue sources must be explored. We must work with the Borough's Planning/Zoning Board to bring quality development to our community. The Boards recent review and approval of the Walgreens development is a prime example. This development will include a restaurant, shops, outdoor amenities that will tie-into other areas of the Borough. The Board's insightful vision for this project included the details for the building exterior to complement the character of the Borough.
As Recreation Commissioner for the past 5 years I have made it my mission to bring events to the Main Street to rally round the businesses and bring life back to our community.
We have enlarged our parades, helped facilitate Matawan Day to be held on Main Street and head the committee every spring to do our downtown cleanup, so that Main Street looks more appealing to those that travel through our town. My mantra has always been ”whatever is in the best interest of the borough and its residents "…I will continue that philosophy and work hard to create a better Matawan for all of us to enjoy.
Property taxes are always a concern, especially in New Jersey. How can Matawan control taxes?
Property taxes are always a concern. The current council has made this a priority, and to that end reviews each department's yearly budget request. Meetings are scheduled with each department head to review and to establish budget goals and priorities. Our budget review process always takes into consideration the tax burden to our residents without reducing essential services, or improvements to the Borough's infrastructure, including roads, water supply, etc.
We need to continuing to look into alternate revenue sources, including actively applying for grants to help offset the tax burden to the residents and shared services.
What accomplishments in your private life translates positively to a position in public office?
As a member of Matawan's governing body, what I do to better our community, can be looked back to my role as wife, mother, and profession. Being responsive to our residents and helping them overcome an issue or problem relates back to the previous roles I mention. My desire and love for Matawan is seen through the actions I have promoted during my time on Council.