ENGLISHTOWN – Four residents are running in a contested race for two three-year terms on the Borough Council in Englishtown in the 2020 election.
One current member of the council is running unopposed for a one-year term.
The terms of incumbent Republicans Eric Mann and Cecilia Robilotti will end on Dec. 31. Both council members are seeking re-election. They are being challenged by Democrats Steven Bloom and Arun Swami.
Republican Councilman Daniel Francisco is running unopposed for a one-year unexpired term.
Mann did not respond to requests for comment.
Bloom has lived in Englishtown for more than five years and said, “Our campaign slogan is ‘Fresh Voices to Represent You for a Better Tomorrow.’ Our council has been controlled by one party for 20-plus years, with some members having served the majority of these 20 years. This has resulted in less input and discussion of fresh ideas.
“If elected, we (Democrats) assure residents of this great town that we plan to incorporate and seek out fresh ideas and will fight for Englishtown’s families, taxpayers and small business owners.
“We seek to provide an identity to our downtown business district, clearing all red tape for small businesses to open and operate, and liaison with them to determine what assistance the town can provide. We will demand improved services and communication provided by our utility providers at all times, leveraging our franchise agreements and contracts when applicable,” Bloom said.
Professionally, Bloom is a finance manager for a technology company supporting clinical research organizations. He is a published co-author on research for higher education in New Jersey, student loans and its impact on society, as well as on individuals purchasing their first home.
“I understand the link between the cost of living, especially in New Jersey, and its impact on our lives,” Bloom said. “We must evaluate every dollar that is part of our budget to ensure it is being used effectively.”
“We will improve town communication by leveraging all available communication platforms available,” he said. “We will ensure all meetings are televised, and agenda/meeting minutes are provided to residents in a timely fashion. Items like the impact of COVID-19, natural disasters, traffic, and events in our town need to be regularly communicated to residents through online portals, text messaging, email, etc.”
Bloom said he and Swami will seek a thorough review of the municipal budget.
“26% of our tax dollars go to our municipal budget and we need to maximize its impact on our community,” he said. “We seek to promote increased shared services, where it makes sense, enhance town services around garbage-recycling collection, parking and snow removal, improve our town parks and events, and ensure our emergency service squads have the resources they need.”
Robilotti has been a resident of Englishtown since 1998 and joined the governing body in 2006.
“I am seeking re-election because this town and its residents mean a lot to me and I will do everything to keep us going,” Robilotti said. “I have made several trips to Trenton to see governors (Jon) Corzine and (Chris) Christie to stop them from eliminating small towns.”
Before retiring eight years ago, Robilotti worked in hospice for more than 20 years.
“I found my career very rewarding,” she said. “My patients and the families were very special to me. I felt my career taught me how to be the calm and rational being in a room when someone’s world is falling apart.”
If re-elected, Robilotti said she will address the issues of taxes and providing services.
“The important issues for Englishtown are to try and keep our taxes down and to keep providing services for our residents,” she said. “The borough remained open throughout this pandemic and we as a council have also worked through this. We will continue to evolve.”
Swami has resided in Englishtown for just over a year and has been a Monmouth County resident for 15 years. He is a business development professional with more than 15 years of experience for multinational corporations in telecommunication and the personal care industry.
“On an everyday basis, I deal with the growing pains and opportunities that await small businesses,” Swami said. “I have experience working for multinational corporations, so I have the experiences of navigating the red tape of government and big corporations with ease.”
If elected, Swami said he will address what he called a lack of communication between the borough and residents.
“As a resident of this community, I have heard from my fellow residents that they are not aware of the actions of the council members through the years, which has come into focus during this pandemic.
“I hope to change that by designing a standard operating procedure and develop a communication platform to reach out to our residents during hours of need and leverage on this platform to enhance two-way communication between residents and elected officials.
“Our residents need to view the Borough Council as an avenue to improve their quality of life for their families, not just a place where our tax dollars go,” Swami said.
Swami also said he would address the issue of small businesses closing.
“We have seen small business suffer and be unable to operate during the current pandemic in our downtown and we need strong leadership to assist them in their recovery to ensure their survival.
“I bring 15 years of business development experience to the table. I deal with small business in my daily professional life and understand the challenges. My No. 1 goal is to support small business and to create programs to promote local business in Englishtown,” he said.
Francisco lived in Manalapan before moving to Englishtown three years ago. He was appointed to the Borough Council in 2019 to fill a vacant seat.
“I am seeking election to be a voice fighting to shrink the role of government where possible and to increase the prospect of peaceful, voluntary interaction between individuals and parties,” Francisco said.
During his professional career, Francisco has worked as a commodity sales manager and in political journalism. He attributed his work experience as demonstrating to him the problems with corporate media and retail politics.
“Media and politicians love to paint emotional narratives about tribes,” he said. “The real story is the struggle of the state vs. the people and power vs. the powerless. New Jersey is a place that embraces statism at virtually every turn and my goal is to make my small locality as free as I possibly can from the monopoly of government force.”
In seeking a new term on the governing body, Francisco spoke highly of Englishtown’s status as a small town.
“Even though I run unopposed, I have reached out and met opposing candidates on the ballot,” Francisco said. “They, like my colleagues, have sensible ideas. I pride myself in belonging to a small, intimate community where we all know each other and party tribes are largely irrelevant. At our size, we can be a model for New Jersey as a successful small town experience.
“I have personally met with a handful of locals who have brought forth legitimate concerns. When you live in a small town, it’s kind of hard to get away with being crass and dismissive. That’s what makes living in a small town so appealing; everyone is accountable to each other.
“My family has opened our home to new friends who we have become close with during my tenure on the council, while also founding a local nonprofit dedicated to civic education and discourse. I wouldn’t think of moving elsewhere.