2023 Council Elections: The Candidates Respond

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Christine McGrath, Alex Roman and Christian Strumolo are the three candidates running for two seats on the Verona Town Council on Tuesday, May 9.

To help readers to get to know the candidates, MyVeronaNJ interviewed all three separately via Zoom over the past few days. There were three questions that were the same for all of the candidates, and another three that were specific to an individual candidate’s background, platform or public positions. You can read each candidate’s response to all six questions on the pages below, which also include ways to learn more about them on the web and social media.

Christine McGrath, who now serves as deputy mayor on the Council, is a 12-year resident of Verona. She was elected to her first term in 2019 and has staked much of it on increasing government transparency. She helped ensure that council meetings would continue to be held on Zoom after the COVID-19 pandemic waned, and posts Council agenda previews and meeting recaps on a website she created apart from the town government website. She was also one of the founders of Verona Fights Hunger Week.

Alex Roman, a Verona resident since 2005 who currently serves as Council mayor, is seeking a third term. In his eight years on the Council, he made Verona more fiscally responsible. In the past, tax rates could increase by as much as 6% a year, and the town ran large deficits. Now Verona’s average cost growth is 2.25%. He has made major reductions in Verona’s budget deficit, passed union contracts that allowed Verona to hire more police officers, and helped enact four major environmental protection measures. Roman believes in collaborative government and he has worked to improve the way the Council functions, most recently by creating subcommittees to do the ground work on many key project in town.

Christian Strumolo has focused his platform on Verona’s infrastructure needs, particularly the police station and wastewater treatment plant. A small business owner, he previously ran unsuccessfully for Council in 2005, finishing sixth in a field of eight candidates. A resident of Verona for more than seven years, he has pledge to self-fund his campaign,

And a note on format. All interviews were recorded and transcribed on Otter.ai, and the automatic transcripts were checked against the audio for accuracy. If speakers used acronyms, we spelled out the acronym in brackets on first reference. When there is an error of fact, that is noted in italics after the candidate’s response.

You can read the candidates’ combined answers to the first common question, how a small, independent town can remain a small independent in the face of rising costs and state mandates. Then question two, on getting through the next round of state-mandated affordable housing without the cost and confusion of the last round. And finally, question three, on squaring the Zoning Code with the new Master Plan, by following the links.

For their individual questions, McGrath was asked about best practices in downtown redevelopment, her policies for different generations of Veronans, particularly seniors, and her evolving views on Verona’s trees. Roman was asked about the wastewater treatment plant, his accomplishments and the things he didn’t get done, and meeting the needs of the Verona Police department, Fire Department and Rescue Squad. Strumolo was asked about how his experience running a small business prepared him for serving on the Town Council, past accomplishments and how they would apply to his plan to “get things done” in Verona, and what he brings to the Council that other candidates don’t.

 

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].

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