2006-10-26 / Front Page
Fair Haven Candidates Borough of Fair Haven mayoral candidates
Willow Street Independent
Fair Haven Mayor Joseph Szostak is seeking a second term in office because he says he has something rare to bring to politics: honesty and ethics.
"I also have a lot of time to dedicate to my position," Szostak said in an interview last week.
Szostak, who is not aligned with a political party, is running as an independent in the Nov. 7 municipal election.
"I am finishing up my fourth year as mayor," Szostak said, "There is still work to be done."
The retired music educator said if re-elected, the high cost of living in the borough is just one issue on a list of priorities he has pledged to address during his next term.
Among these is the migration of residents out of the borough.
"We are losing more and more senior citizens," Szostak said. "My quality of life has gone down. I am living on a teacher's pension and Social Security."
"I would continue to hound the finance committee to keep the costs of benefits, salaries and pensions down," he said.
A Fair Haven resident for 34 years and current Willow Street resident, Szostak said another unresolved issue in the borough is finding a site on which to locate a cell tower.
"This has not been finalized yet," he said, adding that earlier this month his administration requested that the Department of Environmental Protection reconsider authorizing the use of a small portion of Green Acres property off Ridge Road for the tower site.
"We hope to be moving along [with the cell tower]," he said.
Szostak said that while in office he has provided a valuable service to residents by keeping a focus on the social aspect of the community.
"There are approximately 5,000 residents in town, and I try to keep a community spirit going," he said.
Szostak has been proactive in establishing the Be A Good Neighbor program that calls for the youths in the community to assist borough seniors with shoveling snow in the winter and taking garbage out to the curb.
The program has also been extended to adults in the community who want to volunteer their time to assist seniors with grocery shopping, Szostak said.
A music teacher for 50 years, Szostak also established a fine and performing arts group in town and hosts concerts for the community at his home.
He also takes credit for developing the borough's finance committee.
"We have a lot of very gifted people in the financial world," he said. "This is a committee of residents who help two of our councilmen on the budget.
"[The residents] come in with advice and suggestions," he said. "It has been very, very good."
Szostak said that while serving his town as mayor, he has seen several of his goals accomplished, including the installation of two monuments at Memorial Park on River Road.
"There has been a World War II monument put in at the park," Szostak said.
"The 9/11 memorial was also done, and that took putting some fire under some butts to get done," he said.
Szostak said he just wants to continue to give back to the borough.
"I hope to be able to do more," he said. Michael Halfacre
Fair Haven mayoral candidate Michael Halfacre began thinking about running for office about a year ago when he decided he could make a difference in the borough.
"I think Fair Haven needs a strong leader who is outspoken and will lead the town and stay with issues until they are concluded," Halfacre said in an interview last week.
"What [Mayor] Joe [Szostak] does, he does well," Halfacre said, adding, "He puts on concerts and organizes community volunteers.
"I will be a mayor who will provide solutions to the problems that residents have."
At the Fair Haven Fireman's Fair last year, Halfacre, an attorney with offices in Little Silver, said he was discussing issues in the borough with several residents.
"Someone told me that maybe I should do something," he said. "And I realized something more had to be done."
A native of Fair Haven and resident of Church Street, Halfacre said the major issue facing Fair Haven is property taxes.
"The biggest issue is always going to be taxes," he said. "Out taxes are very high, and just walking the town and meeting the people, I hear their biggest concern is property taxes."
Halfacre said if elected Nov. 7, he would aggressively pursue shared services and explore consolidating the functions of borough administration in order to lower the tax burden for residents.
He added that he would also look to begin the budget process earlier in order to better prioritize spending.
"On a micro-level, we need to stop spending money," he said. "On a macro-level, we need to go to Trenton and see about forming a coalition of suburban towns to force Trenton to take action.
"We are getting such a low return in money," he said. "Trenton is making us go bankrupt."
Halfacre, who served on the council from 1995 to 1997, said he would also address recreation in town.
"Our playing fields are in bad shape," he said. "They are getting better, but we need to allocate resources to make it better.
"The current mayor has ignored recreation. We have 1,000 kids in town eligible to take part in our recreation programs. We need to take better care of our parks," he said.
Halfacre proposes spring and fall Fair Haven Days, which would be townwide volunteer days for cleaning, upkeep and maintenance of the borough fields and other facilities.
If elected, he would also look to open the lines of communication between the borough administration and the community.
"Our newsletter usually includes dates after the fact and is often inaccurate," Halfacre said. "We need to revamp the newsletter and get it out to the people.
"Our Web site frequently goes months without being updated," he added.
Halfacre said he plans to also put forth a concerted effort to maintain consistency with residential redevelopment.
He explained that he would look into revising planning and zoning ordinances to ensure that the character of Fair Haven is preserved.
He added that he would also propose combining the Planning and Zoning boards to promote consistency in decision making on redevelopment in the borough.
Halfacre said the residents of Fair Haven need to make a choice at the polls next month and decide what kind of mayor the community wants.
"I will be a vocal mayor," he said. "I will work hard to be a strong voice for the people."