Westfield Needs More Paving

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One of the greatest concerns raised by Ward 3 residents with whom I’ve spoken is the poor state of Ward 3 roads. Residents are dissatisfied that the roads they have to drive on every day are filled with potholes and bumps (the attached photo of Grove Street is a good example), even though their taxes continue to go up.

The government of Westfield hasn’t invested sufficiently in maintaining Westfield’s roads. From 2011-2017, the percentage of roads fully resurfaced has averaged 1% (calculated from data available on the town’s website[1]) — far below the 5% level that experts recommend since asphalt roads generally last 20 years[2]. And only 4% of roads have been partially or fully resurfaced in this time frame — also significantly below that same 5%.

Poor roads do more than cause a bumpy ride. They can cost you money out of your pocket, too. A 2015 US Department of Transportation study estimated that bad roads in the state of NJ cost the average driver $601 in repair costs[3]*. Also, poor roads make Westfield look unattractive to visitors and future residents.

The process of determining which roads to pave in Westfield also needs improvement. The reason -- roads in major disrepair in Ward 3 like Grove Street aren’t getting paved while others are. Also, Ward 3 residents have told me that Westfield has chosen their road to be repaved because they filed a petition and screamed loudly – which doesn’t seem like the best way to make long-term investment decisions like road paving.

I know Westfield can do better when it comes to paving. If elected as the Ward 3 Councilman, I will push to prioritize paving when the 2018 municipal budget is being developed and advocate that the government target paving at least 5% of Westfield’s roads in full. To pay for this, I’ll help scrutinize every line item in the budget (like I’ve done throughout my career where I’ve managed multi-million dollar budgets), eliminate wasteful expenditures and push for more cost-effective approaches to delivering town services.

I’ll also advocate that Westfield redirect some of the existing $12.5mm surplus to fund road improvements. Certainly, a rainy-day fund is critical in our town—just as it is in home finances—but it doesn’t need to be this large. Some of the surplus should be used to upgrade our roads which are an essential part of our quality of life in Westfield. I’ll also make sure that the government aggressively pursue every grant program available at the county, state and national level for infrastructure improvement. Lastly, I’ll advocate that Westfield review its process to determine which roads get paved and make sure that need is the most important criteria so the town repaves streets in the worst condition first.

Working together, we can make Westfield better. Let me know what you think. Feel free to email me at david@contractforwestfield.com or PM me on Facebook at facebook.com/contractforwestfield. And remember to vote Contract for Council for Ward 3 on November 7.



[1] http://www.westfieldnj.gov/index.asp?SEC=FD7F4613-3227-4CE3-9CF1-EF1BD5EBF2E9

[2] http://www.engineering.com/Ask@/qactid/1/qaqid/4074.aspx

Simple Solutions to Save Ward 3 Residents Time and Reduce Frustration

As I’ve canvassed Ward 3 and talked to nearly 1,000 of our neighbors, the same themes keep coming up. Residents want proactive leadership from their town government that addresses the issues that matter most. Here are some of my fresh ideas to save Ward 3 residents time and reduce frustration.

-- Get Creative with Downtown Parking. Every voter I’ve spoken to says lack of parking is a frustrating deterrent to shopping downtown, and real estate agents say the lack of parking impedes some businesses from opening in Westfield. We need to get creative in addressing the capacity issue. For example, let’s explore ways to better utilize the South Avenue train station lot, which has plenty of free parking on Saturdays and Sundays while other parking lots are filled. Could running a downtown trolley help move shoppers to/from this lot—and provide an easy way to get around town without a car? How about renting/leasing space from other downtown business entities that may have available parking in their lots? What’s more: let’s create an app that tells you instantly how many parking spaces are available downtown and where, which can be done now that wireless parking meters are being installed. Chances are, there are available spaces but not everyone wants to drive all over looking for a parking spot. I’ll make sure we explore all of these ideas as your Councilman.

-- Address parking enforcement. Most voters I’ve spoken to say that aggressive parking enforcement deters them from shopping downtown. In fact, many residents can recount stories of parking enforcement officers giving them a ticket right after their meter expired. Let’s make sure our parking enforcement approach is in line with our neighbors with thriving downtowns like Cranford. And if you do get a parking ticket, let’s explore ways to make the process of challenging a parking ticket more efficient, such as giving residents a specific time slot in court versus waiting around until you are called, something that busy residents don’t have time to do. And, how about letting people pay a reduced fine if they go to the Clerk’s office within 15 minutes of receiving the ticket like some other town’s because sometimes you make a mistake. I’ll make sure we explore all of these ideas as your Councilman.

-- Simplify Town Recycling. Every time my neighbors and I separate paper and plastic every other Tuesday night, only to watch the recycling crew throw EVERYTHING into the back of one truck the next day, I wonder: why are residents required to spend time sorting everything? Let’s sit down with the recycling contractor and revise this approach to save residents time. Also, let’s explore ways to add recycling bins downtown so plastic yogurt cups and paper coffee cups for example can be recycled instead of thrown out. I’ll make sure we explore all of these ideas as your Councilman.

These are just a few ways I plan to bring Fresh Ideas and a Proactive Approach to government to make Westfield better. My goal will be to continually challenge the status quo and push our local government to find the best—and most economical—solutions to the issues our town faces. What I often find is that simple, inexpensive solutions to problems just require new, sometimes out-of-the-box thinking and an openness and willingness to try new ways of doing things. I do this every day at work managing brands for Fortune 500 companies. I look forward to applying this approach as your Ward 3 Councilman.

Please let me know what you think by contacting me anytime – by email at david@contractforwestfield.com or on Facebook @contractforwestfield. To learn more, visit facebook.com/contractforwestfield or PM me. And most importantly, vote Contract for Council on Nov. 7th! Thanks!

Making Westfield Better - My Vision for Ward 3

I’m running for Town Council Ward 3 because I believe Westfield can be governed more effectively. I plan to bring “Fresh Ideas and a Proactive Approach” to government and drive change. I’ll focus on the following ways to make Westfield better:

-- Pave More Ward 3 Roads: There are too many potholes in Ward 3. Experts recommend that towns pave 5% of their roads per year (since they last on average 20 years) but Westfield has only touched 3% of its roads annually on average since 2011 – a significant gap. I will pursue plans to pave 5% of Westfield’s streets per year, focusing on the streets in the worst condition.

-- Make Ward 3 Streets Safer. There is too much speeding in Ward 3, which contributes to dangerous intersections and road safety issues. I speak from first-hand experience because my house is at the corner of Shackamaxon Drive and Rahway Ave. and there’s usually 1 or more bad accidents per year. Residents living near this intersection have asked the town for years to implement solutions to slow cars down on Rahway and nothing has happened. I will pursue plans to identify the most dangerous streets and intersections and develop solutions for each. Potential solutions include improved speed limit signage, better street lighting, more police enforcement, additional stop signs, or speed barriers.

-- Fix Ward 3 Sidewalks: Too many sidewalks are in poor condition, which can cause pedestrian safety issues, especially for our kids walking to school, seniors, joggers, and residents walking their dogs. Westfield used to fund 50% of the cost to repair residential sidewalks but this program ended in 2008. I’ll explore ways to restore this “sidewalk repair match” beginning with the 2018 municipal budget. 

-- Re-Energize The Downtown: There is more our town government can do to support the downtown. Numerous discussions with business owners, real estate agents, municipal lawyers and developers indicate that Westfield’s permitting process is too arduous/time-consuming, parking options are too limited and parking enforcement is too aggressive. All of these issues deter businesses from opening in and shoppers visiting Westfield. I will pursue solutions to each of these issues including:

a) Address Parking Issues Downtown: Pursue ways to add parking downtown, make it easier to find available parking downtown and enforce parking less aggressively. I’ll explore solutions including 1) launching a parking app for your mobile device that lets you know instantly how many spaces are available downtown and where, 2) benchmarking parking enforcement in neighboring towns and adjusting Westfield’s method accordingly and 3) approaching downtown entities with parking lots to see if they would let Westfield borrow/lease space during times that their lots are empty. Lastly, I will advocate that Westfield develop a new master plan to guide future development which should include new parking solutions and be executed in a collaborative and inclusive manner.

b) Improve Permitting Process: Pursue a more flexible and quicker permitting process, including faster review timeframes.

-- Make Government More Efficient: We should strive to perform town services as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible which doesn’t seem to happen all the time today. Leaf pick-up is one example – while many nearby towns use vacuum trucks, Westfield uses bulldozers and dump trucks, which seems inefficient. Another example is recycling. I’ll challenge how Westfield performs everyday services and push the town to find better, more cost-effective solutions. I’ll also challenge every line item in the Westfield budget to make sure Westfield isn’t wasting money on outdated approaches.

-- Build 2-Way Dialogue With You: Today, many Ward 3 residents don’t feel like they have any dialogue with their current Ward 3 Councilman. I plan to create a 2-way dialogue with Ward 3 voters so your voice is heard and you are effectively represented. I’ll send out surveys periodically so I know what’s on your mind. And you’ll always be able to reach me 24/7 via text, email or phone for any reason.

Working together, we can make Westfield better. It starts with electing David Contract for Town Council Ward 3. Please visit my website (www.contractforwestfield.com) or email me at david@contractforwestfield.com to learn more and share your thoughts. Vote CONTRACT FOR COUNCIL on Nov. 7!

Endorsement by Former Ward 3 Councilman Dave Haas

I'm proud to receive the below endorsement from Ward 3's former Councilman Dave Haas published in the TAP Into Westfield on Sept 14. Dave was my neighbor for 10 years and knows that I share many of the qualities that made him a successful Ward 3 Councilman including challenging the status quo, seeking out new solutions, listening before making decisions, and proactively leading. See below for Dave's full endorsement letter:

Dear Editor, 

I am endorsing Dave Contract for councilman of the third ward of Westfield. Dave was a neighbor of mine for many years. I know that he has the qualities it takes be a great councilman. I remember walking my dog down to the corner, bumping into Dave, and chatting with him about issues. His ideas and his questions showed that he cared about Westfield and respected the people in it.

Having represented the third ward for nine years, I have a sense of what makes a good councilman. A councilman doesn’t come to council with all of the answers. New issues and opportunities arise. A good councilman should be able to listen to all sides of an issue and gather information before making a decision. The councilman should be proactive and take initiative in finding the best solution for the town and their constituents, while working closely with others on and off the council to get things done. You’ve seen the evidence that Dave can do these things in the smoking ban for the sidewalk cafes that he spearheaded and worked with the council to get implemented this year. 

A great councilman knows that we need continual improvement to keep the town ahead of problems, efficient and moving forward. We shouldn’t rest on “it’s the way we’ve always done it” but should be constantly asking “what is the best way” to pick up leaves or pave roads. As a brand marketer for 20 years who launches new products and promotions, Dave understands this because he uses it in his everyday work.

Dave was a great neighbor when I lived on Shackamaxon, and I know he’ll be a great councilman if you’ll give him your vote. 

Dave Haas

Former 3rd Ward Councilman

 

Making Things Better As Your Ward 3 Town Councilman

Since launching my campaign for Town Council Ward 3, voter after voter has told me they want change in Westfield to make it an even better place to live—for them and their families. They want a more proactive government that addresses the key issues on their minds including our downtown, our roads and town safety. And these Westfield residents want a Council representative who is there to listen to their concerns and respond.

My focus will be to ensure that these issues are addressed proactively. This is what I’ve done throughout my 25-year business career at Kraft, Merck and Merrill Lynch -- challenge the status quo, develop ideas on how to make things better, implement them proactively and measure their impact. I’ll do the same if I am elected to the Westfield Town Council.

And I’ll create an era of proactive, two-way communication in Ward 3 so residents know their voices count. Voters will be able to reach me 24-7 – via text, email, phone or in-person. Plus, voters will hear from me regularly with updates on the Town Council and with surveys so I know what’s on their mind.

I’d love to start this two-way dialogue now. Feel free to contact me anytime at david@contractforwestfield.com or on my ContractforWestfield Facebook page. 

Thanks!

Downtown Business District Top Concern for 738 Westfield Residents Polled in Public Survey by Westfield Together

Westfield’s downtown business district was the top concern among the 738 Westfield residents who participated in a public online survey conducted by Westfield Together, the Democratic slate of candidates running for council and mayor.

 

The survey, which was posted online May 3, asked residents to identify the top five issues most important to them from a list of 24 choices. Those who completed the survey, reported the following:

 

  • 71% cited the condition of downtown as one of their top five most important issues, and 133 or 22% found downtown the most important issue of all.

  • Property taxes and schools were tied as the second most cited in respondents’ top five issues at 59% each.

  • 32% cited property values in their top five issues.

  • 28% cited parking as their top issue.   

  • 21% cited schools as their top issue.

  • 17% cited property taxes as their top issue.

  • 6% cited property values as their top issue.

  • 4% cited public transportation as their top issue.

  • 3% cited parking, housing teardowns, and government transparency as their top issue.

 

36% of those who took the survey reported living in Westfield for 20+ years, and 32% reported living in Westfield between 11-19 years. Of those residents who participated in the survey, 96% are registered voters. Residents in all 4 wards participated in the survey with the most, 30% from in Ward 1, and the fewest, 19% from Ward 3.

 

Residents had the opportunity to respond to an open-ended question asking respondents to include additional feedback. 87 residents submitted written responses, with the majority expressing concern about the downtown vacancies and parking.

 

Residents accessed the survey via the candidates’ Facebook pages, the Westfield Together website, and in this TAPinto Westfield article. This survey was created and controlled through Survey Monkey, and results were tracked by the responder’s unique IP address. Party affiliation was deliberately not included as a question on the survey. The data cited above was collected from May 3 to May 24, 2017.

 

To maximize communication and transparency we have appended the complete unedited survey results PDF.  We hope this survey contributes to the productive conversation on local priorities. Polling residents on the local issues that impact them will be routine practice if the Democratic slate of candidates is elected November 7th.

 

VIEW SURVEY RESULTS HERE

 

 

Wonderful meet n greets with voters

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I've attended two wonderful meet n greets with voters in Ward 3 over the past two weeks organized by Ayse Wronski, Lisa Stern Wolf and Donna Perch. These events were a great opportunity for me to listen to the issues on the minds of voters and to share my plans to bring "Fresh Ideas and a Proactive Approach" to town government. Nearly all voters I've met both at meet n' greets and on door-to-door desire change, especially related to rejuvenating our downtown, fixing our roads/sidewalks and making our streets safer. And, voters have been very enthusiastic about my vision for a more fiscally smart, and proactive solutions that address these issues and drives positive change in town.

Let me know if you'd like to hold a meet n' greet with your friends/neighbors. You can message me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/contractforwestfield OR email david@contractforwestfield.com.

Thanks!

Primary Results Are In . . . and We Did Great!

I'm thrilled to let you know that I got 380 votes in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday June 6 vs. just 182 for my opponent in the GOP Primary. What's even more impressive is that my vote total nearly tripled the average vote total for the Democratic candidates during the last three primaries.

This is a great start to our campaign and proves that Democrats in Ward 3 are engaged and excited about returning a Democratic councilman to town government and ending one party rule in our town.

BUT, this race is not over. We've got a long way to go before Nov. 7. I look forward to your continued support and involvement, which is the key to winning in Nov.

Endorsement by Matt Sontz, Resident of Ward 3

Proud to announce I received an endorsement from Matt Sontz, a long-time resident of Ward  3. Matt also knows what it takes to be on the Town Council since he's run for Council before. Click below to read his letter which was published in The Leader on Thursday May 18 and online on TapInto:

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/westfield/categories/letters-to-the-editor/articles/matt-sontz-endorses-david-contract-for-3rd-ward-t

Sign the One-Seat Ride Petition to NYC

SIGN THE ONE-SEAT RIDE PETITION TO NYC!

Whether you commute regularly to Manhattan on the train OR just want to see your property values increase, please sign the below petition to let NJ Transit and Trenton know that you want a one-seat ride from Westfield to Penn Station! We need to work together to make our voices heard on this critical issue for Westfield. When Summit launched 1-seat train service, they saw up to 20% increases in home values. Wouldn't that be nice in Westfield?

http://raritanvalleyrail.com/petition/

And please share the petition with your friends and neighbors too! Thanks.