Local politics impacts the lives of residents daily. Yet, most newspapers prefer to report on state or national politics rather than the races in the towns that they cover. Voters should have the opportunity to know a little about their municipal candidates as well as state and national candidates.
I had the opportunity to interview candidate for Atlantic Highlands Council member, Jon Crowley via email. The following is from those emails:
Why Are You Running?
I wanted to be an advocate for my neighbors and for them to understand that I’m looking out for them. I think governing isn’t about saying, “no” but, rather, finding ways to listen and always willing to find solutions through collaboration. That isn’t a cheesy campaign line—it’s the way I’ve survived in a tough industry (television): be open to new ideas wherever they may come.
Greatest Council Accomplishment?
In three years, I have authored nine new laws-- with another three ready to be introduced. I'm happy to say almost all of them have been unanimously passed because they don't have a partisan point of view—they are focused on what is best for our town. I’m also proud of my unanimously passed law that will protect the borough from a commercial developer’s ‘expert witness.’ Have you ever heard a traffic expert say that a big project will negatively impact a town? Never. With this new law, a developer will have to pay for the borough’s own expert witness to either corroborate or refute what has been submitted on the developer’s application. I like having that extra layer of protection—on someone else’s dime.
I’m also very proud about our passage of the plastics ban because – overnight -- we saved Atlantic Highlands from over 10,000 bags being distributed every week. And more importantly, we were on the leading edge of a movement that pushed Trenton to follow suit by passing a statewide ban that will begin next year.
Going Forward, What Is Your Main Priority/Goal?
Putting aside dealing with Covid-19, holding the line on taxes and supporting our local businesses, there are a few projects that I’d like to bring to fruition, including: two years ago it struck me that Saint Agnes was sitting empty and would eventually be sold to an outside developer-- someone who wouldn’t have our town’s best interests at heart. I began talking with contractors, land use attorneys and, of course, my neighbors with a plan focused on preserving the neighborhood and for a way to meet some of our most pressing needs. I brought forward the idea that the borough should temporarily purchase the land, hold public town hall meetings to discuss ideas, create a design plan and then sell to a developer who will build what we want. Right now, that probably includes a mix of affordable senior housing and open public space. Taking the initiative is a better approach than having an outsider dictate what they want to build.
I’m also piecing together an AM radio station and an informational TV station for the borough—both at negligible or NO cost to taxpayers. Can you imagine how helpful a radio station would have been during our recent power outages? Even with phones and the internet down, we still have batteries or our car radio; it would have been the simplest way to keep everyone informed about power restoral, charging stations, places to get ice… you name it. On the TV side, we’re having discussions with Comcast about ways we can offer kids hands-on experience in the television industry via a borough station through our Summer recreation programs.
How How Will You Address The Main Issues Facing Atlantic Highlands?
We’ll be occupied with promoting ways to stay healthy and supporting our businesses. That will begin by looking at our budget: my first year that meant voting “no” to a tax hike and then in subsequent years letting my fellow council members know that I would not cast a vote to raise taxes. For 2021, I’ll be using my twenty years of experience creating budgets for network television and using a scalpel – not a sledgehammer – to each line item. The goal, with the shortfalls we will likely face, isn’t to make giant cuts but, rather, looking at ways to preserve wherever we can. Lori and I also want to create public workshops to discuss the town’s property tax process. We’ll also continue to create fun and safe events such as the drive-in movies I organized this Summer where we can gather as a community—something we all need right now.
Politically, What Is Your “Platform”?
My “platform” is simple: I am driven by the thought that I can’t stand possibly disappointing anyone who elected me to office. The thought haunts me: ‘Am I doing enough?’ But when you’ve done something your neighbors appreciate, and see those smiles, it makes it all worthwhile. I’m here to be my neighbor’s advocate… keep it focused on what’s best for the town… and working from a bipartisan point-of-view (which shouldn’t be hard if the town is your focus).
Are We Re-Opening Business Correctly?
I am sworn to uphold the laws of the state, so my job on the local level is to support my community and our business owners. One of my favorite hang-out’s is the theatre. Pre-Covid I would see at least one or two movies a month there. About five years ago I suggested they stage live music, stand-up comedy, retro films and first-run films to raise their awareness and it looks like they are beginning to do that-- and I’ll do whatever I can to help promote and market all of our local businesses with new ideas and approaches. This Summer I reached-out to our restaurants to create the “meal deals” for the movie drive-in nights I organized—with the intent to help promote our great places to eat. My job is to listen to our business owners and then help devise ways to help them market and promote. Cutting through red tape is another way I’ve helped our business owners. I was glad that at the height of the lockdown, I created a list of restaurant openings and available emergency services (food bank contacts, rent assistance, etc) to help spread the word wherever we could to help everyone in town.
Should Wearing A Mask Be Legislated?
I believe that our neighbors are being respectful and mandating masks isn’t necessary in Atlantic Highlands. If the state medical authorities feel that we are experiencing another spike and if the President or Governor mandates mask wearing, I will always err on the side of supporting science and put aside the inconvenience of wearing a mask to keep our town safe.
Off The Dais: Who Are You?
First and foremost, I’m a dad and a husband. I’ve been married for 19 years to my wife and we have a son in his junior year at Hudson Regional. Outside borough hall, I am a two-time Emmy award winning writer, director and television “showrunner.” Some know me as the executive producer/developer of, IMPRACTICAL JOKERS and I recently optioned a series about a racially diverse team of ice skaters to a major network. Television has given me a broad background and a varied skillset: I’ve built budgets of over $80 million and I’ve also worked on a shoestring budget with an even tighter delivery schedule. I’ve managed staffs of over 100 and I’ve also been all alone with a camera in the middle of nowhere. Most importantly, I have figured a way to collaborate with a variety of personalities-- and if that doesn’t sound like a great preparation for dealing with counterparts on the other side of the aisle, then nothing else will!
As we grow near to election day, we wish all the candidates’ success in all their endeavors.