AH Council Candidate Ellen O'Dwyer
AH Council Candidate Ellen O'Dwyer

Congratulations to the Democrat candidates for Atlantic Highlands Council on being two of five people in Monmouth County to be endorsed by the political arm of the NJ League of Conservation Voters. It is refreshing to see the political group finds them as dedicated as many of us are, including the other council candidates, towards the environment.

Like so many other programs, improvements, and solutions to problems, I feel change begins at the local level where Council members can talk with the residents and find the areas where all can work together to protect our environment. And while I support some goals of the NJ LCV, it is nonetheless a political voice for the environment. As a councilmember, I would focus my attention and time and that of my colleagues in borough support and money on what we can accomplish locally.

I do not know whether the political endorsement took into consideration that as a planning board member Mr. Dougherty played a role in contributing to the overdevelopment of our community. While approving new development, he doesn’t appear to have taken into consideration the impacts of climate change and stormwater management or even parking when increasing the residential population with high-rises and apartment complexes. I do not know any of the activities in which Ms. D’Almeida has volunteered to help the environment.

In his response to Mr. Fisher’s questions in a recent survey to each of the candidates, Mr. Dougherty explained his decision making on the planning board as, “As with any proposed application that comes before me as a Planning Board member, the positive criteria and negative criteria should be weighed in making that evaluation…Council members do not get to pick winners and losers in proposed developments.” Does that mean he is saying that as a councilmember, he won’t be making those mistakes?

I believe Atlantic Highlands will play its responsible part for the environment, but that doesn’t need to be championing the politics behind it, and the associated costs in doing so. I’d like all council members to be locally focused and actually doing things to make things better here. We have a critical need to address and resource solutions for local impact…all of which adds to the collective good on the bigger initiatives.

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

I, too, have worked hard for the environment, though not to gain publicity or accolades, but rather because I see how I could make a difference locally, so I did. That is the first step in national change. I serve on the Environmental Commission, am the Captain of the Sustainable Green Team, and a Shade Tree Commissioner; I am a Lenape Woods steward, and I successfully secured a grant, and designed and worked on the Monarch migration project through a garden club which I had co-founded. I have proven I am passionate about, and physically working for protection of our environment.

I congratulate Lesley and Brian for getting the endorsement, but I’m disappointed I wasn’t asked to submit responses to any questionnaire so I too could have expressed my opinion and background.

Ellen O’Dwyer
Candidate for Atlantic Highlands Council

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