When thinking about who I want representing me at the local level, I take into account several factors in a candidate.
What’s most important to me is the integrity and honesty of the candidate. From what I’ve seen in the last year, and so far in the campaign this year, Councilwoman Emily Root clearly is the winner in Ward 1.
Councilwoman Root takes clear positions on tough issues and isn’t afraid to defend her stand. I know her support for One Westfield Place stems from her firm belief that it is a model of smart growth that will benefit the Town with new investment and funds for public improvements.
I only know that her challenger has stated on a video he created that he opposes One Westfield Place over concerns that it will impact the bottom line of his father, who is a downtown landlord.
Councilwoman Root has never misstated facts as her Republican challenger has done numerous occasions on social media, including the whopper on another video that “every single day another car gets stolen, someone’s house gets broken into” and that marauding gangs of out- oftowners regularly invade Mindowaskin Park, “drinking, smoking, doing crazy stuff” and disturbing the peace with their boomboxes.
Councilwoman Root’s opponent also serves as a moderator on a Facebook group where a substantial number of Westfield residents get their information (and sometimes misinformation). Though numerous residents have raised concerns over a perceived conflict of interest in serving as both a candidate and a moderator of the group, he has blithely dismissed their concerns.
It should be particularly troubling to everyone in Westfield that a candidate doesn’t understand how his activity can be perceived as a conflict of interest. Not what I want in an elected official.
Another factor that I consider in a candidate is engagement in the community, and, on that, Councilwoman Root is clearly the winner. From what I’ve seen, Councilwoman Root is everywhere all the time. I have yet to see her opponent anywhere and his social media posts are bereft of community involvement.
Councilwoman Root has participated in so many town events, from the Pride Flag raising to the March to Yorktown Day Parade, from Sweet Sounds Downtown to Shakespeare in (Foundation) Park. Her positive social media posts are uplifting. I also know she is engaging with hundreds of residents in person, hearing their feedback informally and taking a pulse on what matters to the community.
Finally, what’s important to me in a candidate is their capacity and willingness to work hard. Councilwoman Root has been a successful small business owner for two decades and is an adjunct professor at Kean University as well as a step mom with two children in college. That alone is enough to keep anyone busy.
Last year when an opportunity arose due to a vacancy, Councilwoman Root stepped up and volunteered, despite her busy life. She ran a strong campaign last year for the one-year term and is running equally hard this year, meeting hundreds of residents and listening to their concerns and hopes for the future of the town.
For me, the choice is clear this November. I’m supporting Councilwoman Root because she has demonstrated she has the honesty and integrity to lead, the willingness to listen and the capacity and drive to serve.
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