HIGHLANDS, NJ - Seeking attainable goals, offering a completely transparent municipal government and sharing information and decision making are three of the primary reasons why Michael Warren is seeking election to one of the two three year terms to be decided on the November election.
A resident of the borough since shortly after Superstorm Sandy, the Warrens lived in Sea Bright at that time and lost their home. Warren and his wife live in what was the former hospital, later a B&B at 254 Navesink Avenue and have been married 30 years. They settled here because Warren’s wife recalls her days as a youngster when her family summered on Fifth Street every year and she made friends, enjoyed the area and felt she was part of the community.
A native of the Lake Ontario area of New York State, Warren is a building contractor licensed in New Jersey and New York. His firm, Great White North LLC, with offices in New York and New Jersey is licensed as a home improvement contractor.
A former Marine, Warren also served on the Ramapo Central School District Board of Education and feels his experience working with an $85 million budget and negotiating teachers’ contracts will be assets as a member of the governing body. The Board also oversaw a multimillion-dollar, five building construction project during his years on the Board adding to his experience in difficult and expensive projects. Warren stepped down from the board when the family moved from the district when his wife, an office professional with a major firm, had to be closer to her work.
Warren readily notes that he has run for both Mayor and council twice while living in New York State, and lost by close votes in each case. “I’m looking at this election to even the score at two and two,” he said.
Warren also believes a workable Draft Comprehensive Plan can be developed for not only the present but the future of the borough by the governing body working together, listening to the public and coming to compromise on the best ideas. “We need to lay out a shared realistic vision that has a clear course of action to provide accountability for all decision makers,” Warren said. “When working on plans, no one is going to get everything he wants, but it’s important to discuss all possibilities and hear all ideas so at the end, the best decision to suit the most residents can be achieved. I’m willing and eager to work towards that goal.”
Warren said he and candidate Vin DeSantis share similar views and ideas for transparency and communications and is hopeful both will be successful in their candidacies. “We’re both very positive people, listen to ideas, and know what compromise is and how it can be accomplished through dialogue.” Warren said though he and DeSantis did not run as a team for the two seats open in November, they share compatible visions and goals for the future of Highlands. “I certainly am supporting his candidacy along with my own. We are both individualistic but know we can work together and present positive ideas,” he added.
The candidate continued, “along with this attainable goal, my vision of a completely transparent town government can be obtained working with my fellow council members and the mayor in developing a reputation for sharing information and making decisions that will impact Highlands in a positive way.” He said “I believe anything can be accomplished when everyone involved sits down and talks. I think dialogue is important to any government, and I know I can bring that here.” Referring to his time in the Marine Corps, Warren added, “I’m not a guy who quits.”
In response to a question, Warren said “the biggest challenge I see as a council member in Highlands is getting people onboard to understand everyone’s opinion has value whether we agree or not. Welcoming people to exchange ideas as long as they are respectful, open minded, and inclusive is essential to maintaining good government.”
Its location and sense of community are the two strongest assets of the borough, Warren pointed out. Noting that his wife’s memories of her childhood visits focus on the community spirit of the neighbors and friends she met each year, and his own growing up in a small town, he recognizes the importance of community. In a municipality like Highlands, he said, where the seventh generation of some families are still here along with newcomers who have only been here a few months, it is the community spirit and sense of dialogue that will bring out the best of what the town offered in the past and what it can continue to offer for the future. “As a community, both long time and new residents of Highlands can work together and do great things.”
He also believes the borough is at a crossroads at the present time, with new construction and businesses coming into the area. It is necessary, he said, to have a comprehensive plan so the town can continue to grow and prosper, yet still keep the feel of a community that is settled and comfortable..”
The Warrens have two daughters, one a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and pursuing a degree in law and the other, employed in New York, and living at home with her parents during the Covid crisis.