CANDIDATES FOR THE CITY COUNCIL SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS, Candidates G
Election day is coming up on Tuesday, November 8th, and voters in Clifton have the opportunity to make big changes to our city council this year. All seven seats are up for grabs and just five of our current members are running, Mayor Anzaldi and Councilman Peter Eagler are not on the ballot.
Members of the Facebook group, Clifton News and Community, submitted questions for the candidates, revealing some of the topics that were of interest to the community. All seventeen candidates responded to the questionnaire and their answers were copied and pasted, exactly as submitted. Due to the large number of candidates, they will be presented in several separate installments.
Following is the third set of three candidates, alphabetical by last name, and their responses as entered. Candidates who offered their website or Facebook page will be linked to their media page. You can click on their names to take you there.
William Gibson, ballot position #1
Why are you running? Please limit your response to one or two sentences: I enjoy communicating daily with residents on issues that arise within the city; helping to resolve those problems with my knowledge and experience. I am very passionate for our city’s future; especially its Quality of Life.
How have you educated yourself on the workings of our City Council and kept up with current issues facing the city? If you are an incumbent, how long have you held a seat on City Council? Nearing the completion of my second term, I’ve enjoyed being the liaison to numerous important committees such as Recycling, Traffic Safety, Hazardous Material, Action, Alliance for Clifton City Council and Clifton Board of Education. I pride myself in proactively troubleshooting urgent calls by physically getting a first-hand look with issues that arise and are brought to the Council.
What is your plan to improve communication and transparency with the citizens of the city? There needs to be a Communications Director, who is responsible for disseminating information out to our residents; such as upcoming inclement weather, road closures, school closings, unforeseen emergencies and upcoming events throughout the city, just to name a few. It is important to sign up for “Swift 911”. We can work on improvements to the site so it’s more user-friendly. We need to explore more up-to-date technology like real-time Apps to broaden accessibility with our younger residents.
What are your plans to address the flooding problem within our city, which has increased over the years? Multiple sections in the city have flooding issues. For example, Third River, I believe Blue Acres is an appropriate means to help the people in the Woodlawn area. Furthermore, the Third River should be dredged and cleaned twice a year. If we are talking about flooding on Clifton Avenue, near Paulison Avenue, under the train tracks; I believe that is a maintenance issue and should be on a schedule to have the catch basins periodically cleaned and most importantly, if we are aware that a storm is imminent, these catch basins should take top priority prior to the storm.
If we are speaking about Madison Avenue, First Street, DeMott Avenue, Hadley Avenue and lower section of Main Avenue; this area is getting flooded more frequently. It is my opinion that we need to do a study for guidance in how to remedy this problem. If we are talking about flooding on Brookside Drive, Pershing Road & Urma Avenue section; Phase II needs to be completed.
For the highway flooding, specifically Route 46 East and West by Trenton, where people frequently lose their cars due to being submerged; this is strictly a scheduling issue that should be made with the NJDOT.
What are your thoughts on the possibility of garbage being picked up only once a week? Pros and cons? I am in favor of garbage collection twice a week. One of the days still needs to be bulk. If residents buy into our recycling program, the tonnage will be less which ultimately will cost the city less money. I am not in favor of picking up the garbage once a week due to Quality of Life issues, health issues and rodent issues.
What is your stance on opening legal cannabis businesses in Clifton? How did you arrive at that position? Oh yes, cannabis. We are all aware that it is legal to consume cannabis in New Jersey. Personally, I don’t care how much cannabis/weed you smoke in the privacy of your homes. It doesn’t even bother me how high you get. I do, however, have great concerns on the misuse of our youth. I have great concerns about people driving under the influence of cannabis. We really don’t know how much revenue we would be receiving from any one of the levels. We want to keep the bar high, (no pun intended), by not having any of the levels in our city. In my opinion, the risks of abuse outweigh the benefits of the revenue. I have been a long-time supporter of Clifton Against Substance Abuse, (CASA). How could I ever go back on that?
Residential use of fireworks - where do you stand on banning all types from residences? I am not comfortable with the word “all”. I am ok with a family using sparklers or non-exploding type of fireworks. Most fireworks can be dangerous and should be used under appropriate supervision and left to the professionals. We must not forget our Veterans who suffer from PTSD and our pets who get really distressed from the sound of these fireworks. They should be done in a stadium type atmosphere not in residential backyards which can lead to a Quality of Life issue.
Do you plan on tackling the problem of brown water throughout Clifton? How? As an advocate for the residents of the City of Clifton, I look forward to working with Passaic Vally Water Commission to work at finding solutions to this problem. We are not in the water business. P.V.W.C. is. The Commission is well aware of this problem and we, as the city, will follow up on any future complaints. This was reassured by the Director of the Passaic Vally Water Commission at a most recent council meeting; where he presented a plan on how they intend to resolve the brown water issue.
The city is creating a Civil Rights Committee. How do you envision using such a group, made of volunteers from all sections of Clifton? This is a very positive step for the City of Clifton. As a city that embraces diversity, our school system consists of a melting pot that highlights about 81 different languages. As a liaison to this Committee, I look forward to the positive changes that will impact our community.
If you are elected, what are your top TWO priority projects - the things you most want to tackle in your first year? What do you see as the biggest issue facing the current Council? Please limit your response to no more than three sentences per issue. First of all; all projects are a priority; but if I had to pick the top two; I would pick consolidating Engine Company #1, (which was closed due to Hurricane Ida) and Engine Company #3 to a new home. It’s important to find a new home for these two fire companies as soon as we can for the benefit of the residents.
My second priority is following through on passing the Quiet Time Ordinance because many of the residents’ complaints that I receive are about noise.
The biggest issue facing the current Council is harmony or more specifically, the lack thereof. I think it’s important we all focus on our residents; and keeping our focus on the real issues that we are facing within the city. Collectively, we can make this city even better.
Steve Goldberg, ballot position #8
Why are you running? Please limit your response to one or two sentences: It's long past due that Clifton does something about overdevelopment . I am committed to acting immediately on overdevelopment and all the problems it leads to.such as flooding and congestion.
How have you educated yourself on the workings of our City Council and kept up with current issues facing the city? If you are an incumbent, how long have you held a seat on City Council? I have been a regular at council and BOE meetings for over 20 yeras. I was chair of the Advisory Commitee for the Disbled for approximately 8 years. I was on the Clifton Action Committee and also was instrumental in establishing the John Samra Park . A barrier free park by Allwood Library. Throughout the years I have been an activist in fighting overdevelopment as well as speaking out on issues of antiSemitism and racism. and health and safety.Professionally I have worked as a Principal serving Special needs children and a comedy writer and performer.
What is your plan to improve communication and transparency with the citizens of the city? The main reason why politicians do not state what they think about issues is because they do not want lose votes. Over the years I have seen numerous politicians pander to both sides of an issue feigning support. I can assure you that with me I will certainly say my opinion on an issue and if am uncertain I am not afraid to say that as well. I will be genuinely honest and straight forward with the citizens of Clifton and will be accesible.. I also would like to have the council meetings more accesible as well where people can call or zoom into the meetings. I also am accessible by phone or via social media. People can read about my 5H platform on my Facebook page Goldbergforcouncil. They can read about my pledge to protect their Home, Health, Happiness, Hope and Harmony. I would like to add that there are clear goals I want to accomplish and I have decided to only serve for one term if electd. 4 Years is a long time and by only serving for one term forces me to accomplish them. I am lmore interested in accomlishing these goals then becoming a life long politicians.. How many more terms do we give some of the people on the council to make Clifton a better place?
What are your plans to address the flooding problem within our city, which has increased over the years? This question is truly heartbraking . For over a decade I have been sounding the alarm bell regarding overdevelopment and flooding and nothing has been done. While gathering signatures for my petitions I met a countless amount of people that told me. "My property never used to flood but after they built.... that's when it started."" The unfortunate thing is there are many ways to prevent flooding but once the flooding starts it literally is like pushing a boulder uphill. Certainly we can be dilligent in cleaning and fixing storm drains to insure we do what we can for the water to enter the system. In terms of building new buildings ten years ago I suggested that the city use the 500 year storm as a baseline for properties being being built and not the 100 year storm. So that is something we should look at immediately. We also have to develop a mindset that we can't afford to lose one blade of grass. Green space is one of the best way to avoid flooding since it literally acts like a sponge, Certainly we need to insure that if trees are taking down anywhere in Clifton even on private property that they are replaced immediately. I also believe that if new coinstruction is built and it causes flooding within the area that the owners of that construction must be responsible for compensating residents and the city. Of course we should take advice and direction from engineers and environmentalists and implement their suggetions to deal with flooding
What are your thoughts on the possibility of garbage being picked up only once a week? Pros and cons? When I was out getting signatures I can tell you that this issue angered and frustrated so many citizens. They were aghast that their taxes continue to go up and now they wanted to cut back an important service like garbage pick up. It is also odd timing since they just increased the pick up of recyclables and now want to cut the pick up of garbage? I am very much against it. To leave garbage out for a week only invites rodents and other creatures. I just answered a question regarding flooding if and when there is flooding we now may have a weeks worth of garbage floating in it. How do the frail and elderly even get the huge garbage cans to the curb? Certainly throughout the year I and other residents I am sure miss a garbage pickup and make it up in a few days. Now if you miss a pick up you have to wait an entire week. In speaking to a resident about this question he said to me "Clifton is becoming a high priced slum." That is a sad commentary for any citizen to have but with the cutback of services it is understandable. I remember the days when Clifton would pick up all your leaves from the curb (unbagged). Clifton can no longer afford cutting back services to its residents and if anything needs to increase them.
What is your stance on opening legal cannabis businesses in Clifton? How did you arrive at that position? I have known people in my life where the use of cannabis has been negative and others where they have used it medically and had very positive results. When the ballot question came up I was against it and voted against it. I have always been for the decriminalization of Cannabis but not the legalization of it. I did not wnt to see the commercilization of it where people from Snoop Dog and Martha Stewart tout their brands. But that is what we apparently have.
In terms of the business of Cannabis I do not believe it would be a windfall for the city and even if it was that is not something I look at in making this decision. I hold the concept ot democracy dear to my heart and I feel that we need to accept the results of voting be it locally and natonally when it happens, The statewide vote on this question was about 2 out of 3 people in favor of legalization. When I checked Clifton's nimbers they were very similar to that. How can I as an elected official who represents these peoplei gnore that? So I would allow cannabis bsinesses in Clifton. But before doing so set up appropriate regulations and safeguards as well as enforcement of these measures.
I want to say one more thing about this issue and I think it points out disingenuous of politicians. This was a big issue in the governor's election and why i chose not to vote for Phil Murphy. He pledged in his campaign to make marijuana legal in the first 100 days. I know there were people on the council who were lobbying for him. But then when he is elected and Marijuana is legal they decide to not allow it Clifton? It makes no sense. If they thought it was so wrong why would they endorse a candidate who makes it a cornerstone of his platform?
Residential use of fireworks - where do you stand on banning all types from residences? I am certainly in favor of this both from a nuisance level and a safety level. Being married to a pediatrician I can tell you fireworks are the cause of many injuries both for the user and bystander.
Do you plan on tackling the problem of brown water throughout Clifton? How?
The water in Clifton ha been undrinkable for years. I know in my house we haven't used tap water in over 15 years. Passiac Valley Water Commission is responsible for our water. and obviously we should have more communication with them similar to what occurred at the last council meeting. But since Clifton's water has been bad for so long I believe it is time to go beyonf PVWC.Undrinkable water is a major health issue and perhaps it's time we contact the state and ask for intervention. This problem needs to be elevated to emergency status and we need to contact anyone who might offer assistance.immediately.
The city is creating a Civil Rights Committee. How do you envision using such a group, made of volunteers from all sections of Clifton? In a city that continues to tout its diversity it is shocking that we are without a civil right committee. Despite many citizens including myself have requested one..Naturally I see this committe to be used as a vehicle for people to be used when citizens feel they have been discriminated against.. But also this can be used to guide the city in creating activites that bring people together of all diversities. Beyond the Civil Right Committee I believe it is imperative that elected officials speak out against hatred, I know I have for years when it has occurred throughout Clifton. In a matter of fact I recently spoke about Anti Semitism in Clifton and will continue to do so.
If you are elected, what are your top TWO priority projects - the things you most want to tackle in your first year? What do you see as the biggest issue facing the current Council? Please limit your response to no more than three sentences per issue. Certainly if elected I would immediately if 3 other council members agree create a plan to tackle overdevelopment immediately. tHis would necessitate an immediate revision of the MasterPlan. This will also aprevent and address flooding issues.
I would also lagin with the willingness of 3 of my council colleagues ike to make the council meeting more accessible for all citizens. Many may not be able to attend the council meetings in person, but have issues they would like to bring to the council. Therefore I would like to create a remote (call in or zoom) portion of the meeting where citizens can bring their concern to the council..
Lastly it is certain that after more than 30 years Clifton will have a new mayor. No matter who ultimately becomes Mayor the council should create criteria and responsibilities for the new mayor that keeps within the concept of the weak mayor staus of Clifton.
You may notic that I said throughout with the willingness of 3 other council people. This is an important aspect for anyone running for council needs to understand and abide by. We have had 4 years of grandstanding and name calling and we can no longer affor that as city. There is too much important work that the council needs to do and everyone needs to work together as a team and acceot their opinion and philosophy.
Ray Grabowski, ballot position #7
Why are you running? Please limit your response to one or two sentences: I am running for re-election because I love the city of Clifton, it is my hometown, and I am dedicated to doing what I can to make it a great place to live.
How have you educated yourself on the workings of our City Council and kept up with current issues facing the city? If you are an incumbent, how long have you held a seat on City Council? I’ve served the city on the Council since 2015. Prior to that I served on the city’s Planning Board. But I am also a life-long resident of Clifton, my business is in Clifton, I work with the Athenia Business Association and am very engaged with residents on a daily basis.
What is your plan to improve communication and transparency with the citizens of the city? Moving forward, I would like to see more involvement with social media. Also finding new and innovative ways to notify the public of ongoing activities in the city.
What are your plans to address the flooding problem within our city, which has increased over the years? The DEP is asking the city for a feasibility study which will include various remediations to solve the flooding problems. One possible solution would be to get state and federal funding to help the residents by raising houses to adjust for the flooding, and some residents whose homes have been severely damaged can be bought out by the Blue Acres program. Certainly cleaning some of the brook and raising bridges can help, but it is really a 3 fold program solution.
What are your thoughts on the possibility of garbage being picked up only once a week? Pros and cons? Right now twice a week is working well. Going to once a week might create a problem of garbage being stored for a longer period of time, smell, rodents etc. Cost is a factor when the contracts come around and would be a consideration for the taxpayer if twice a week pickup becomes too costly. But my feeling is what’s working is working.
What is your stance on opening legal cannabis businesses in Clifton? How did you arrive at that position? My position has always been that I am not in favor of cannabis businesses. I don’t think the marginal profits that come from the sale of cannabis outweigh the safety of the children in our town. I can’t put a price on human life.
Residential use of fireworks - where do you stand on banning all types from residences? First of all, fireworks in the city of Clifton are already illegal (except maybe sparklers or fireworks that don’t make noise). So obviously stricter enforcement is needed.
Do you plan on tackling the problem of brown water throughout Clifton? How?
Because of our recent meeting with Passaic Valley Water Commission, they have shown us the need for replacement of bad pipes, flushing is not the answer for many of the areas. We need to have them start the process of replacing the pipes asap.
The city is creating a Civil Rights Committee. How do you envision using such a group, made of volunteers from all sections of Clifton? It is important to have a place where people feel safe to come to. We hope that we can help people address their issues. The State already has its own civil rights committee, and I think it’s good to have it on a local level so the citizens have a vehicle to wage their complaints dealing with racial discrimination, anti-Semetic situations that may arise in our city.
If you are elected, what are your top TWO priority projects - the things you most want to tackle in your first year? What do you see as the biggest issue facing the current Council? Please limit your response to no more than three sentences per issue. For myself, quality of life, health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City of Clifton is paramount. Enforcement of all our ordinances that deal with these issues has to be addressed. Certainly overdevelopment needs to be looked into. Our city is growing faster while the infrastructures are aging and have to be addressed by upgrading. And overcrowding puts a strain on the services provided to the residents.
The Clifton Democrats Club is hosting a Candidates’ Forum at City Hall on Wednesday, October 12 at 7 pm. This will give the community a chance to hear the candidates speak live. This event is open to the public.