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New Direction For Perth Amboy Answers The Amboy Guardian’s Questions

New Direction team

1. As we all know or should know, Perth Amboy is a very historic town. Do you believe that it will be beneficial for the Mayor to appoint a Council Member to the Historic Preservation Commission?

Yes. It will be absolutely be beneficial to have a council member be appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission. This appointment should be made by the city council.

2. Illegal housing has been an issue for many years in the City in spite of fines being increased to landlords.  What besides increased fines should be imposed on those who knowingly have illegal housing?

We understand this is a hot topic for the community. That being said, however, we act as a supportive government. It is important to build relationships with current homeowners, educate them as to the current local laws regarding code enforcement, and assist them in the process of making their properties legal.  We must also enforce the current local laws consistently regarding code enforcement.

The most important point to drive home to landlords and homeowners regarding this issue is that of safety. In the worst case scenario, it is possible the city could see fatalities in the event of a natural disaster or fire.

Again, we need to build strong relationships with homeowners, explaining the current laws in place to preempt any potential loss of life in the event of a natural disaster or fire.

3. Perth Amboy is overcrowded due to three reasons: Illegal Housing, Illegal Immigrants and the overabundance of Low Income Housing. None of the three contribute to the tax base as rateables. This has caused an increase in property taxes over the past six years. What would you do to alleviate the tax burden on property owners?

Increased property taxes are a cause of bad financial management and planning by our local government leaders. Our slate will ensure a thorough financial analysis takes place, contrasting rateables from homeowners to business. Better planning is the only way to mitigate, alleviate, and eventually, eradicate the onerous burden of high taxes.

Our local government officials have not done enough to attract diverse businesses.  They have allowed the same type of businesses to open in town and have flooded the local market with similar businesses. This reduces profits for everyone, causes failed businesses and limits services for our residents.  This is unacceptable.

We promise some sort of centralized planning in order to diversify the local business sector instead of continuing to flood the local market with the same types of businesses.

4. Should crime be reported more openly to the public?

Yes, absolutely! The current local city leaders continue to perpetuate this fallacy that crime is down. Actual data, however, shows this is simply not true. We cannot continue to lie to the public, misinforming them of the everyday realities of our urban metropolitan city. Transparency, not lies and platitudes, is what we need with regards to crime in the city.

5. Are you in favor of having cameras installed in some of the street lights to help catch illegal activity? If so do you think those shown doing this activity on camera should be shown on PA-TV?

The short answer to this question is no. Installing cameras with the intent of trying to “catch illegal activity” can open the city up to severe liabilities, potentially thwarting our residents’ civil liberties. Americans take privacy issues very seriously. Installing cameras in the streets sounds too much like “big brother” watching and hovering over all of us. We need to respect Americans’ rights to privacy.

Buttressing the local police department, building strong relationships with neighborhood watchdog groups, and creating jobs and opportunities for our residents is the way to go, the way to preemptively attack the issue of crime and safety.

6. Are you for more shared services between other municipalities or do you prefer Perth Amboy to be self-sustaining?

Shared services is something the City of Perth Amboy, in fact the State of New Jersey, must seriously consider, without attempts to privatize our services and ensuring we do not lose good union jobs. That being said, however, if we can figure out a way to share services, reduce the city budget without privatizing or creating layoffs, then yes, it’s something the city should consider.

7. Are there any lawsuits against the City which you believe should have gone to trial instead of settling out of court?

This is a very loaded, complicated question. Municipalities typically take their cue from expert lawyers during litigation. Oftentimes, city attorneys advise city officials to settle instead of going through a protracted, all out legal war. It’s hard to argue against the advice of your own city attorney, again a professional and expert in their field of work, which is why many cases are settled.

If there are cases where municipalities have aggressively fought back against frivolous charges and won, well, we think it’s important we study these cases in order to make better decisions in the future regarding the issue of “settlement over going to trial.”

8. There are overabundance of staffing agencies in the City that are taking residents to work in factories outside of the City.  Most of these jobs are for unskilled laborers. What would you do to try to bring more companies into the City that can employ these same workers?

Once again, local government leaders have failed to diversify the local business sectors. Our slate is strongly committed to do the opposite: We need centralized planning in order to diversify our business sector, ensuring we bring in high rateables and attract new jobs to create local wealth.

9. Which City Services would you increase and which would you decrease? Are there City Services that could be combined under one department?

All directors should be housed in one location, so all their efforts could be better coordinated. These positions are an administrative function, not a legislative function.
Efforts should concentrate on the services which provide direct improvement in the life of the citizens of Perth Amboy. A comprehensive analysis should be done annually to more accurately project which city services should be increased and/or decreased.

10. Do you feel that the Redevelopment Agency, Planning Board and Zoning Board overlap each other’s responsibilities?

The redevelopment agency (PARA) has value within city government but it lends itself to many abuses.

It is totally controlled by the mayor of the municipality because she appoints all members to the agency. It creates rules for all properties under its jurisdiction rather than those rules sent to be approved by the zoning and planning boards, so it does create repetition in the process. PARA has a great deal of power in changing zoning and planning, and those changes must be approved by the two boards, but only after the developers have been given all the changes they want to make on the properties. In our opinion, the city council should carry out the duties and task of the redevelopment of the city.

11. Do you feel there should be more communication in between departments in the City? Should there be one database that all department heads can access to avoid duplication of services?

Yes and yes. Current local government has failed us by not facilitating better communications amongst the city departments. This is widely recognized, yet none of the city officials do anything about the issue. Our campaign ticket guarantees better communications between all departments and department heads.

12. Do you think the City should be more aware of Community Events? Should there be a Community Calendar available for organizations to post their events?

Yes and yes. Again, local government officials are failing local community leaders and organizations by not providing and facilitating communications. Community leaders and organizations feel their wants and needs are not being met.

We promise to bring in local community leaders and organizations, and make them feel part of our government.  There is too much work to do to marginalize contributions from opposing groups as the mayor has done in the past.  For example, much work has been done to promote improvements in the library.  Unfortunately, the administration does not acknowledge or appreciate the work of interested and committed residents.

13. A Rutgers study showed that Perth Amboy is lacking parks and recreational services in certain sections of the town. What do you think would help alleviate the problem?

Our local government should establish permanent relationships with higher education institutions such as Rutgers University, Princeton University, Trenton State College, etc., allowing them to continue to provide us with information and recommendations on how to address issues of urban economic development, education reform, taxes, quality of life, electoral reform, crime, and recreation.

Creating a symbiotic relationship with higher education institutions and intellectuals is the logical thing to do for the City of Perth Amboy.

Again, this is where local officials are failing us because they lack leadership, vision and the ability to communicate.  By contrast, we will provide the necessary leadership and vision to move the city in a new direction.

14. Perth Amboy is notorious for its parking meters. Woodbridge Township and South Amboy both eliminated parking meters. South Amboy has a time limit on their parking spaces. This has caused shoppers who drive to go elsewhere because of fear of being towed or ticketed. Do you think that reaching out to the BID whose businesses are members should be able to validate parking for those customers who shop in their stores?

We should eliminate the onerous, unnecessary tax of parking meters – period. And we should look at current existing models that work in order to reform our current parking issue.

15. Are you for term limits for all political offices? What should those term limits be?

We are not for term limits. Voters should decide who gets to stay in power. We are, however, for mitigating the power of money in the electoral process. We are for any electoral reforms that can mitigate the power of money in the electoral process.

16. As we all know many of Perth Amboy’s streets are still in poor shape. Are you willing to try and put a moratorium on all future building until the road’s structure is more stable? If a company does come in and wants to build where the roads are still fragile, should that company contribute to the repairs of the infrastructure of roads in the area to which to build on?

Yes, if possible. Local government should hold developers accountable for providing the city with as many additional amenities and services as possible. Development contracts should come with stipulations and caveats to protect our citizens and our work force.  As community leaders we should promote union jobs for our citizens.  That is a way that we can insure quality work and access to the middle class for our residents.

Again, this is another issue where our local government continues to fail us, and where we will provide leadership.

17. Perth Amboy has had major fires in the past couple of years. Do you think that developers who have huge plans for major residential developments (e.g. Harbortown) should provide extra safety for their residents (local firehouse)?

Yes. (See our response in question 16.)

18. If you do not win the election, will you continue to attend and participate in public meetings?

Yes. We do not believe in moral victories in political campaigning. We want to win. We want to win to provide the leadership necessary to move the City of Perth Amboy in a New Direction.

That being said, however, our campaign ticket’s track record of community involvement and activism is well documented. We love the City of Perth Amboy. Win or lose we will continue to fight the good fight in attempts to see the city improve.

Our adversaries will receive a respectful congratulation in the event of a loss. We will then work with them in any capacity to help them move the city in the right direction, albeit always being critical of anything said or done. At the end of the day, a government official should be judged on his or her actual voting record, his or her leadership or lack thereof, his or her statements and positions made in public.

It is worth noting – and it is extremely unfortunate – that our adversaries have chosen to go negative and put out attack ads against us, instead of attacking the relevant issues voters care about in the city. We, on the other hand, have taken the high road and have chosen to stick the issues that matter to the voters.

Lastly, once again, we love the City of Perth Amboy. It would be an honor to serve you. Please make sure you come out to vote on November 4th.

Your next City Councilmen,
Fernando Gonzalez, Jelmin Caba, Ana Maria Mascenik

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