EDISON – Six candidates will vie for the three, four-year term Township Council seats available on the Edison Township Council in the upcoming election.
The candidates include Democratic candidates Margot Harris, Nishith Patel and John Poyner and Republican candidates R. Tali Epstein, Joe Luistro and Payal Mehta.
The general election is Nov. 2.
Democratic incumbents Alvaro Gomez, Robert Diehl and Samip “Sam” Joshi are not seeking re-election.
R. Tali Epstein, 51, is a lifelong resident of Edison except for college and law school. She has four children, ages 21, 20, 18 and 16.
Epstein earned a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, Columbia University and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is a lawyer.
In the community, Epstein is a member of Ohr Torah Synagogue and a member of the Middlesex County Republican Women’s Club.
Epstein is seeking her first term.
“I am running for council because I believe I can be an effective member of the Edison governing body,” she said. “I am a lifelong resident of Edison and raised four children here. My children are mostly grown now and I want to give back to my town. My training as a lawyer working for nationally renowned law firms and deep legal experience will serve me well in achieving this goal. My entire adult life has been spent negotiating deals and resolving disputes with the most formidable adversaries and I would bring the strategies and techniques I acquired to benefit the township.”
If elected, Epstein said one area she would like to focus on is economics.
“I am a fiscal conservative and would do everything in my power to reduce redundant and/or excessive spending and instead focus on implementing fiscally responsible solutions that maximize our natural and available resources and alleviate taxpayer burden to the extent possible,” she said.
Margot Harris, 66, has lived in Edison for 25 years.
Harris earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree of social work from the University of Chicago. She is a clinical social worker in a private practice.
In the community, Harris is a committee member with the Edison Democratic Organization and served on the Edison Board of Education (BOE) from 2012-15.
Harris is seeking her first term.
“When asked to serve my community, I always say ‘yes’,” she said. “I was asked by Mayor Jun Choi to run for my committee seat in 2009, was asked by [the late] Gene Maeroff to run for the BOE in 2012 and was asked by Sam Joshi to run with him for the council seat.
“I believe that my skills as a clinical social worker put me in a unique position to build bridges with the council members as well as the Edison residents, no matter on what side of town they live,” she said.
If elected, Harris said her priorities “would be school overcrowding, overdevelopment and taxes.”
Nishith Patel, 35, has lived in Edison for five years. He is married with a young daughter, age 17 months.
Patel earned his doctor of pharmacy degree from Rutgers University. He is a pharmacist.
He is seeking his first term.
“Edison is my home and I want to make it beautiful and enjoyable for all the residents,” he said.
If elected, Patel said overcrowding of schools would be his main focus.
“I want to work with [the] school board to figure out why we haven’t built the three schools that were recommended 10 years ago when the study was done,” he said. “I believe it is [the] single biggest issue impacting most residents from parents, students, teachers and to the future growth of Edison. If we do not have good schools no one will want to come settle down here. No current residents want to bring in new students to school and strain the already stretched out resources. It is a spiraling problem that will bring Edison to a halt.”
John H. Poyner, 36, has lived in Edison for six years. He is married to Brooke and they have two young daughters, ages 4 and 1.
Poyner earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Montclair State University. He is a residential remodeling contractor, estimator and graphic designer.
In the community, Poyner has been active with the Clara Barton Neighborhood Preservation Committee, setting up a website/email to communicate important neighborhood items as well as organize community events such as neighborhood yard sales and block parties.
He was appointed to the Edison Township Environmental Commission from 2017-20, serving as secretary and vice chair, and was the organization’s representative to the Technical Review Committee. He has also helped organize, run and participate in community events such as litter cleanup events throughout the township.
Poyner is seeking his first term.
He said his desire to improve the quality of life for residents include five primary focuses: the master plan – revise with new vision and guidelines for future development; tax stabilization – minimize tax increases through smart growth initiatives and revenue streams such as municipal broadband; school overcrowding – coordinate with the BOE to examine repurposing existing structures and zoning opportunities; infrastructure – ensure short- and long-term maintenance and improvement plans for roads, water and sewer and environmental; and beautification – review environmental guidelines, coordinate with interested parties to ensure constant litter maintenance and improve parks.
If elected, Poyner said the master plan, which sets the guidelines and vision for the township to follow regarding future development, would be his primary focus.
“Edison has changed so much since the last full revision, whether it be population density or change in type of commerce, that an update is crucial for upcoming decisions the township will have to make,” he said. “A few items I’m particularly interested in are land use recommendations list, greater inclusion of technology and its effects on future development and open space preservation.”
Candidates Joe Luistro and Payal Mehta could not be reached by press time.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.