OUR PLATFORM

Equity, Environment, and Economy

 

Our 2020 Platform Focuses on Three Lenses: Equity, Environment, and Economy

 

Equity

 

All of the decisions of an effective, progressive local government should be viewed through a lens of equity. 

 

This includes: 

 

  • Information Equity. Working with the Highland Park Public Information Committee to ensure that all of the Borough's modes of communication proactively and affirmatively reach all residents. We will strive for an engaged community where all voices have equal access to municipal information. 

  • Social Equity. Building and expanding upon programs outlined in the Borough's Inclusive Communities resolution, like the Highland Park Municipal ID to increase access to municipal services. We will also work to develop municipal recreation programs and services tailored to youth, families, and seniors. 

  • Community Inclusion. A strong community is one where everyone has a strong voice. The Borough must proactively reach into our community and find ways to engage all residents. And within our small, but diverse community, different residents will require different levels of outreach. The goal is to make Borough government accessible through various technology and locales. 

  • Equity in Policing and Services. Highland Park can be a leader in making sure no population is disproportionately targeted in law enforcement. We will continue to work with the Highland Park Police Department to address use of force data that shows black residents are at a significantly higher risk of being subjected to police use-of-force tactics. We will also work to identify social services the community can provide to most effectively complement police services. 

 

Environment

 

Climate change is an existential threat to our global and local community. We're already seeing the effects: warmer summers, more days of extreme rainfalls, and increased frequency and intensity of floods. 

 

A governing body must recognize these realities and take climate action at every level.

 

As Council members, Matt and Elsie will promote: 

 

  • Safe Sidewalks and Bike Lanes. Highland Park has a philosophical and cultural commitment to walking and cycling. The Borough has made great strides in the past few years on assembling a comprehensive pedestrian and cycling plan, thanks to the Safe Walking and Cycling Committee. We will build on that and promote a comprehensive sidewalk improvement plan as well as bike lane and bike striping installation. 

  • Buy Local. one of the most effective ways to reduce emissions is to support the local economy. Elsie and Matt will promote existing and identify innovative shop local campaigns to bolster our local economy as well as to reduce auto emissions. The pandemic has taken a deep toll on our local economy but several businesses have created new ways to reach their customers. Our local government must support and complement those efforts as part of a comprehensive economic and environmental plan. 

  • Ecological Preservation. Elsie and Matt will work aggressively to make sure our natural resources are protected and managed in order to preserve habitat and its flora and fauna.

  • Reduce non-reusable materials. We support the Borough's efforts to reduce single-use plastic bag consumption and look forward to working with residents and the business community to reduce non-reusable materials, promote reusable materials, and to educate the public about steps they can take at home to do the same. 

  • Reduce and Reuse before Recycling. Unfortunately, there is less incentive for municipalities to participate in recycling programs because it is no longer the cost-effective measure it once was. We need to take steps to promote and provide reusable materials. Recycling is the last option.

  • Energy Auditing. We support a comprehensive energy audit of all public buildings and will explore ways for the Borough to provide another home energy audit program.

  • Land Use. As a river town, our planning and zoning processes must be done through the lens of increased flooding, more severe storms, and additional tolls taken on our infrastructure. 

 

Economy

 

Nothing is more critical to the lifeblood of our town than a strong local economy. Doing so allows the Borough to make investments in budgetary priorities like infrastructural improvements, trainings for municipal staff, excellent municipal services, strong recreational programming, and great schools. 

 

As Council members, Elsie and Matt will promote: 

 

  • Downtown Development. Downtown Highland Park represents our single-most effective way of creating a vibrant local economy. We will work with property owners, retailers, developers, Main Street Highland Park, the state, the county, and YOU to ensure that we have the downtown that everyone knows we can have. We will address vacant properties and problem properties that have presented significant obstacles to downtown progress. 

  • Annual Line-Item Review. As fiscal stewards of the Borough, Matt and Elsie will review each element of our municipal budget in order to ensure our taxes are being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

  • Explore State and Federal Grant Opportunities. Some of the best-run towns in the state are recipients of grants that enable road and sidewalk repair, open space preservation, green development, public art, and pedestrian and cycling improvements. 

  • Affordability. Achieving a vibrant economy is recognizing economic diversity as a strength. A majority of Highland Park residents are renters so it's essential that we work with renters, property owners, and landlords to make sure that rents remain stable and reflective of our economically diverse population. 

  • Community Priorities Budgeting. A municipal budget, while lean, presents opportunities to listen to the public and budget for programs and policies that reflect those needs. 

  • Long-term Budgeting. Mid-year budgeting is incredibly difficult and the Borough does not always have the dollars to make quick decision in response to community demands. Matt and Elsie will work with a new Community Budget Advisory Committee to make sure long-term budget priorities are met as well as establish a fund that does allow the town to meet some immediate short-term priorities. 

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Paid for by Foster-Dublin and Hersh, Democrats for a Fair Highland Park
333 Felton Avenue, Highland Park, New Jersey 08904. Alex Kemeny, Treasurer