When Hightstown Borough residents head to the polls next week, they will be casting their ballots for several races in the school board and general elections.
This year, residents will have a choice on Nov. 5 as to who will represent them on the borough council.
Incumbents Joshua Jackson and Steven Misiura are both running unopposed for reelection for two three-year terms. Meanwhile, the one-year unexpired term is up for grabs between democrat Joseph Cicalese and republican James Eufemia.
Cicalese currently is a member of the planning board, a member of the environmental commission, the treasurer for the Harvest Fair Committee, the director of the Children’s Area and the chair of the Complete Streets Committee.
“I am an optimistic person with a pragmatic approach to getting things done that I feel can be applied to many areas in our town that need work,” Cicalese said. “I have found in my experience volunteering for Hightstown that we can get a lot accomplished if we question the status quo and work persistently toward our goals.”
James “Mickey” Eufemia is a lifelong resident of Hightstown. He and his wife raised two sons in the town who are fourth generation “Hightstownions.”
“I’m able to serve first because of the complete support of my family,” Eufemia said. “I have much to offer my community and I believe my voice on council will always be positive, and always be in the best interest of all of our residents.”
In order to provide candidates with an equitable platform to discuss their plans for the borough council, both candidates were given the same questions.
Why are you running for a seat on the borough council? What drives you to public service?
Cicalese: I have always had an inclination to step up and take action wherever I recognize that leadership or initiative is needed to impact positive change. I am not one to complain, I prefer to be one to find solutions and carry them out. As a young man, I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. I have taught computer classes to senior citizens in my hometown of Jackson and worked on several public service projects with my peers in scouting. I would like to bring my strong initiative and my experience seeking and directing service projects to council with great benefit to our citizens. I feel I can be an asset as someone who will find opportunities to improve the town by creating efficiencies without adding costs.
Eufemia: I spent 33 years as a member of the Hightstown Police Department; the last 10 years as the chief of police. During that time, I administered a large budget successfully for 10 budget cycles, always being under budget. I also attended and participated in more than 200 council meetings, which gives me much more experience in all borough matters.
Other than taxes, what would you say are the most pressing issues facing the borough? If elected, how do you plan on tackling those issues?
Cicalese: Hightstown is a town that, in spite of its problems related to an aging infrastructure and a high cost of living, is just the kind of town the next generation wants to live in. Our unique housing and historic, scenic downtown with lots of places to walk make Hightstown an extremely desirable place to live and a destination for the next generation of homebuyers. This has already begun to attract investment in the town and will work in our favor as property values, ratables and the prestige of our town all increase over the next few years. It’s important that the council not squander these gains. If elected, I will work to continue the pace of Hightstown’s growth and ensure we are not missing any opportunities to save costs through shared services or lessen the burden on taxpayers through new development and investments in the borough.
Eufemia: The borough has to rehabilitate its new municipal building and build a new police station. We must be frugal but build and renovate these buildings so that they last long into the future, all while not overspending. It is imperative that we see immediate progress on the mill project. When our residents can see visible change, I think it will go a long way to alleviate their fears that this project would never be completed.
How would you say you differ from your opponent? Why should voters choose you?
Cicalese: It’s important to me that people understand Hightstown is more than just a nice town to me – it is the place we chose to raise our family. My son, Stephen, just graduated from Hightstown High School this year and my daughter will start kindergarten in two years. The difference between me and my opponent is the future. The growth and improvement that happens now will affect my family for the next several decades. I started volunteering as soon as I came to Hightstown, because I want to help see the town through the many changes it’s undergoing, to see it realize its real potential so we can all live in a town we love and look forward to its future. I have found since moving to Hightstown that it is exactly the kind of place that a lot of young families from my generation want to live in, and want to help the town continue to move in a direction that will make it attractive to these young families without taking away the historic, small-town charm that makes Hightstown special.
Eufemia: Everyone is different. I have the distinction of living in Hightstown my entire life. I’ve seen the past Hightstown, the present Hightstown and with the help of my fellow council members, I want to continue to steer Hightstown in the right direction for the future.
What, in your opinion, makes Hightstown Borough a place where you want to serve?
Cicalese: This is more than just my home, I work just a mile-and-a-half away in East Windsor. When I’m not at work, I’m usually downtown walking around the lake with my daughter or biking with her to the park. I am proud to live in such a beautiful place and want to make sure everyone here feels the same pride and comfort in knowing their town is appreciated and is being well-managed. It’s been my experience, since moving here, that while not without its issues, Hightstown is a place that people love and truly care about, and whether it’s by serving on council or through my current work on various boards, committees and commissions, I’m not only proud of the love and care I have for my town, but I am proud to be a part of the effort on behalf of the borough to give love and care in return to our residents.
Eufemia: Hightstown is small town America. I want to be a vocal part of that, not for me, but for my family and all the other families in Hightstown, now and into the future.