Joe Krakoviak for Mayor Kick-Off Speech
Hello and welcome, thanks everyone for coming out. Looking around here now, from where I was almost six years to the day, we have come a long, long way. Do you remember where you were in October 2008?
I’d just been laid off by Accenture. The Great Recession had grabbed New York. I wasn’t having success finding a job or consulting work. so I had a lot of free time on my hands.
My wife Clare got a call from Rosary Morelli looking for help in figuring out what was going on with downtown redevelopment of the Edison Battery Factory. I looked at redevelopment and saw a significant transparency problem. Actually, what I saw was a black hole almost devoid of accurate and understandable information about the project. I didn’t think that was a coincidence.
I said, We can do better.
Dear West Orange residents,
On November 4, 2014, the people of West Orange finally will have the opportunity to elect new leaders*. Having served on the Town Council for the past four years, I believe the township, to be most successful, needs a positive change toward fiscal responsibility, transparency, accountability and economic growth.
We clearly need to move in a much better direction to restore a more affordable town, a more accountable government and a more livable community to raise our families. I know we can -- and will -- do better.
As mayor of West Orange, I will address these major issues that are eroding our quality of life:
- A three-year trend of municipal property tax increases, due in large part to a declining tax base;
- A dramatic rise in municipal debt – up 19%, or $11.3 million -- and debt-service payments – up 30% -- in the past four years;
- Hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasteful spending;
- A lack of transparency and responsiveness to resident concerns on important issues;
- Insufficient support for law enforcement;
- Weak economic-development efforts and results;
- The failure to hold Prism Capital Partners, the downtown redeveloper, accountable for tax delinquencies, a failure to progress and allowing an eyesore Main Street location.
In my time on the Council, I’ve worked diligently to deliver on campaign promises of greater fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability. Our residents now know much more about how their government behaves and spends their taxes -- and more often speak up and express their desires and concerns. However, much more remains to be done to restore West Orange to the attractive, affordable community we all want – and know it can be. I believe I’ve demonstrated the necessary knowledge, experience, independence and vision to lead our town into better times.
*The mayor and council majority moved municipal elections late last year from May, where they’ve been for decades, to November despite a petition from 175 residents requesting a referendum on the issue.