To the Editor:
No matter what our differences in this town, we all know that what it takes to get any job done is competence and trustworthiness. And it is now abundantly clear from the number of “meet the candidate” forums, both in person and written, that Verona has two highly competent, experienced and dedicated candidates running for re-election on town council, Christine McGrath and Alex Roman. Whether they were pitched a question spontaneously in person, or gave a written response, no matter the topic, their answer showed a deep familiarity and thoughtful approach to the issues and questions that face residents in Verona. Whether the question was about environmental issues surrounding the Peckman river, about zoning rules for affordable housing, about what they have done and will do to increase inclusivity and DEI initiatives, McGrath and Roman showed their deep knowledge with specific, detailed and often lengthy responses. They are fully versed in how local government works and with the issues that are unique to our town.
Unfortunately, the third candidate, Christian Strumolo, has not shown himself to be trustworthy or competent. A recent piece in The New Jersey Globe details numerous arrests, based on public records, as well as other bankruptcy issues. (Just to be clear, sharing information on someone’s previous behavior and actions is the opposite of character assassination. It is inviting people to judge that person based on their own actions, not on someone else’s characterization of them.) His responses at both the in-person and written forums were short on substance and nearly empty of detail (case in point: when asked what experience he would bring to the town council, Mr. Strumolo’s reply was “So what I would bring to the table is how to finally get things done.” And Mr. Strumolo’s recent campaign mailer, which included numerous inaccuracies, continues to reinforce my concerns about his trustworthiness and competency.
It takes more than grumbling about how long other candidates have been in office to convince voters that you are ready to do the job of council member. Verona needs and deserves council members who have taken the time to study the problems, who have experience in dealing with the many personnel in local government, who have experience and familiarity with Verona’s Master Plan, who can speak, like McGrath and Roman, with fluency and knowledge about zoning laws, and Affordable Housing and Development ordinances, and about the progress we have made in making our schools more welcoming for all children, and the many things we still have yet to do to achieve our goals there. You need not take my word for it, but can see for yourself: Watch the 2023 Town Council Candidates Forum on youtube, or read through their responses to questions here.
If you believe that competence and trustworthiness are essential qualities in an elected official, then it is clear you must come out and vote for Christine McGrath and Alex Roman on May 9th.