HIGHLANDS – “I just want to help make this town the best it can be. Our homes are all here, many of us have investments here, every homeowner certainly has an investment here. Working together we can continue to improve and make Highlands an even better place.”
Councilman Cody Valkos was enthusiastic in pointing out his reasons for seeking the one year term open in the November election, along with two three year terms. Appointed to the position in January, he is facing opposition in running for his first elective term from Kevin L Martin, the only other candidate for the one year seat.
Valkos also explained why he is seeking the one year rather than the one of the (two) three year terms being sought by Vin DeSantis, Don Melnyk, Jo-Anne Olszewski and Mike Warren, in the borough which is governed under the Faulkner Act Small Town Plan C, a non-partisan form of government.
“I was new to the Council in January,” he said, “and have learned a lot in my first year. I feel I would rather have a second year to strengthen and hone my foundation in running municipal government rather than have another newcomer fill the position for a year than have to either step down or run for election again next year. I think it will provide me a stronger foundation for the borough.” None of the other candidates has ever sought public office here in the past or served on any municipal governing body.
Valkos said having at least a year’s experience behind him will enable him to devote all his energy to the projects already in formative stages and see them through to completion. Primary among the projects under way are construction of the new borough hall on Navesink Ave., a solution to the Captain’s Cove Marina construction plans and continued improvements on municipal infrastructure, primarily the sewer system.
Valkos, at 30, the youngest of the candidates, has served as a member of the Communication Committee, Green Team and Environmental committees in the past and agreed to accept the appointment when approved unanimously last January.
A year later, though supportive of the positive status of many accomplishments through the year, Valkos feels the biggest challenge facing the governing body is “transparency and cooperation. We have to take more positive steps more quickly to ensure everything is conducted in the open, the residents are aware of all plans and how we arrive at solutions, and council has to work together in a cooperative manner to get things accomplished. “We don’t all have to agree on everything,” he continued, “nor do I think we should. But we all have to know about everything being considered, cooperate and do what is best, in an open and inviting manner, to continue to accomplish what the people want and need most.”
Valkos said he has a strong appreciation for the professionalism of the borough’s employees, and has worked with Borough Administrator Kim Gonzales to continue to learn the intricacies of municipal government. “I appreciate the professionals we have at Borough Hall, and appreciate the opportunity to work with them on an almost daily basis.”
A graduate of Rumson Fair Haven High School, Valkos joined his family’s property management business, DSV Property Management, after completing his degree in business management with a minor in pre-law at Montclair State University. He manages the company’s business at the office at 15 Bay Ave. Knowing and visiting the borough often because of living two towns away, he purchased a condo on Shore Drive, choosing the borough because of its natural beauty outstanding restaurants and the advantages of water service to New York, as well as the history that is such an important part of the community’s past but also its link to preservation and its future.
Running on a slogan of “A Voice for You,” Valkos said he takes seriously the obligation a member of the governing body has to listen to the people, hear their ideas, make plans that coordinate with the majority opinion, then follow through to ensure their voices get a satisfactory response. He is in agreement with the present system of members of council not receiving any compensation for their positions. “If we have major events we must attend, I would agree reimbursement for legitimate expenses would be proper. But to serve the people of Highlands as a volunteer and elected official, I do not believe we should receive any stipend at all.”
Unmarried, the councilman is also an avid volunteer with the borough’s First Aid Squad and is currently a quarter way through the intensive four month EMT certification program. Currently, he assumes regular nighttime hours with the squad to be on call for emergencies while at the same time devoting time to studying for the constant tests and reviews that ensure the safe and dependable EMS program, he said, “because there’s always a need to help others and I feel this is how I can best fill that need.”