The Millennial Action Project, a DC-based post-partisan leadership organization, featured South Orange's new Village President for a Day program, highlighting the importance of helping inspire young people towards civics participation. Click the image below to head over to their blog to read more!
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One of the most important things a public servant can do is help inspire those who will one day replace them. Even though we've been hard at work in town, with a budget that’ll include what’s likely to be the lowest tax increase since the 1990s, the groundbreaking with Jonathan Rose Companies on the 215 rental unit, 533 parking space, LEED-silver mixed-use project on Third and Valley, getting a $340k grant for the Fire Department and $150k for the library and so much more, investment in our future is still a top priority, and not just from a budgeting perspective. This was more clear to me than ever this past December, when I was speaking to classes at South Mountain elementary. A third grade student asked whether a woman could be mayor. After explaining that fortunately people are much more open minded than they used to be about politics, and that with hard work and the right motivations, anyone can be anything, I was inspired by the reaction from the young girl, who clearly from this moment forward was determined to hold public office. In recognition of this student's interest in civics participation, I began the "Village President For A Day" program in...
South Orange's transparent budget tool powered by OpenGov, often cited as one of the most transparent municipal budgets in New Jersey, if not the United States, helped earned the Village recognition in the Belfast Telegraph following my visit to the Belfast Technology Conference on a panel with several other mayors. There is a more in-depth write-up coming from the conference, but please take a look at the article below. We're happy to have our initiatives discussed on the international stage with other leading voices like the City of Belfast! Read the article by clicking below:
A big congratulations to second-grader Aidan from Marshall School who not only was the second "Village President For A Day" today, getting a special tour of South Orange Police Headquarters, but also wins best face made in a photo ever! Check out more at the South Orange Village Facebook page. I spoke to Aidan's class a few months ago, and he will be reporting back to them with everything he learned. Watch the first VP For A Day.
NJ.com covered the historic groundbreaking of the Village's Third and Valley project. In the article, I got a chance to talk about how helping provide resources that would allow residents to move to South Orange without a second, or even a first car, is one of the best ways that we can embody Think Global Act Local. Bringing development into a more denser residential pattern: Covers less ground with impervious surfaces, disturbing less soil and rainwater runoff patterns Lowers per-capita HVAC costs, reducing energy usage and carbon output Encourages walkable lifestyles, leading to longer and happier lives When adjacent to transit resources, such as trains, buses, car-sharing and bike lanes, reducing need for a second, or first car, which can save a family $6,000-$8,000. Residents in South Orange can take advantage of new downtown ZipCar vehicles. Supports locally owned downtown businesses in South Orange, supports the arts, placing residents within walking distance to the South Orange Performing Arts Center Infuse much needed capital in the municipal budget, often converting under-utilized space into ratables. Provides increased parking, allowing a long-term re-organization of downtown parking to help create and encourage pedestrian centers and walkable plaza space. Lower our environmental impact by lessening...
On Friday, I was thrilled to join dozens of community members, village staff, trustees and the Jonathan Rose redevelopment team to officially break ground on Third and Valley - our newest redevelopment project in South Orange. The project, which will be (at least) LEED-silver certified, is replacing a surface parking lot, and vacant lot with 215 apartment units, 3,000 square feet of retail (with outdoor dining space), innovative live/work units and a 500+ space parking garage. The complex will bring in over a half a million dollars a year to the Village's budget, and provide vital foot traffic for our downtown businesses, to the South Orange Performing Arts Center, to our train station and to all of our events downtown. It's a huge step for South Orange, and one more reason why South Orange is a great place for economic investment!
Last night, third grade South Mountain student Gunjan Jacinto presided over the beginning of our Board of Trustees meeting as the first "Village President For A Day." Gunjan embodies the curiosity and energy that we seek to encourage in our youngest, and we were proud to recognize her interest and involvement. Read more about her and the start of this program, which aims to inspire, educate and reward local students for civics interest. You can watch the video of her presiding over the meeting below. Show your support for young people (even younger than me!) getting involved and learning first-hand about their government.
Last night, my administration, thanks to the hard work of Village Administrator Barry Lewis introduced a "final" budget to the trustees that brings the tax increases down to just a hair under 1% for 2014. This will be lowest tax increase since the 1990s - at least 15 years. A lot of hard work has gone into bringing tax increases down by everyone in South Orange, and this budget follows that same line fiscal responsibility. You can read coverage from the meeting in The Alternative Press. And don't forget to check out our interactive budget tool to explore five years of budget data presented in a visual format.