Elizabeth Koch. (Click to enlarge.)

Two three-year terms on the Fair Haven Borough Council are up for grabs in the November 7 election. On the ballot are four candidates: incumbent Republican Susan Sorensen and her running mate, Betsy Koch; and incumbent Democrat Christopher Rodriguez and his running mate, Jessica Patel.

Here are Koch’s written responses to questions posed to all four candidates recently by redbankgreen.

Name: Elizabeth (Betsy) Koch

Age:  66 (but please keep to yourself!)

Address:  27 Sycamore Lane, Fair Haven, NJ

How long have you been a resident of Fair Haven? 42 years

Where did you grow up? Crestwood, NY (Westchester County)

Where did you go to high school?  Maria Regina HS, Hartsdale, NY

Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree?

SUNY, New Paltz, NY (BS, Chemistry); Rutgers University (M.ED Science)

Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when?  No

What do you do for a living?  8th Grade Science Teacher, Knollwood, Fair Haven, NJ

Please tell us a little bit about your community involvement efforts, if any.

I have lived in Fair Haven for more than 40 years and taught in the FH school system for more than 20 years. Over the years I have volunteered for Boy/Girl Scouts, PTA, and was a founding member of the Fair Haven Technology Foundation (which has since been renamed the Fair Haven Education Foundation), founding committee member for Teen Canteen in the late 80’s and served on the FH Centennial Committee (2012).  I am currently a member of the FH PTA, Parks and Recreation Committee (27 y) and Zoning Board (2y).  I am also a founding board member of the Foundation of Fair Haven (since 2013) – responsible for many community events including Fair Haven Day and Octoberfest.  Perhaps my proudest contribution to our community is the Wall of Honor at Knollwood School.  I worked with Joe Perrotto to create this commemorative display to honor the graduates of Knollwood School who are on active duty in the Armed Forces.

Party affiliation: Republican

How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?

At the local level I believe we should have a non-partisan government.  Our town has done an impressive job of being transparent and fiscally responsible.  This is directly related to the work our council has done and not to their party affiliation.

Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why? 

Eleanor Roosevelt.  She was the first First Lady to become involved in politics in her own way.  She gave press conferences and spoke out for human rights, children’s causes and women’s issues, working on behalf of the League of Women Voters.  Eleanor was an incredible asset to her husband during WWII and was instrumental in advocating Women’s Rights in the workplace during this time. After the death of her husband, Eleanor took her place on the international stage.   She chaired the subcommittee of the Commission of Human Rights responsible for drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations.

Why are you running for Fair Haven council?

There are several reasons  I chose to run for Council.   Over the past 42 years have volunteered in many capacities, but have reached a point in my life where I can devote more time to the issues our town is addressing.  My late husband, Jerome Koch, was a two term Councilman when he passed away in 2014 and I would like to continue our legacy.  As a 27 year member of Parks and Recreation I have been instrumental in improving and maintaining all areas of our parks and recreational facilities.  As a member of the Parks and Recreation committee we have been successful in partnering with many interlocal agencies.  Most recently, we partnered with RFH to build 5 new tennis courts in Fair Haven Fields.  I would like to continue to explore other options our town can participate in – in an effort to reduce spending.  I have been a member of the Zoning Board for two years.  I would like to use that experience to work on Zoning ordinances that are unclear and have caused our residents to spend more money on professional services for clarification on variances.

What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them?

As I have walked through town with Susan Sorensen we have met with many residents who have expressed a desire to have our recycling/bulk drop-off center opened more than just once a month.  As a member of council, I would work with the Council and DPW to increase the number of monthly drop-offs.  I would also work to continue the Safe Streets to Schools program, bicycle safety, and build more sidewalks to continue to provide our children with safe passage to our schools and recreational facilities. I would also work to continue to maintain a flat budget by pursuing more interlocal agreements and grants in an effort to improve/maintain our borough facilities.

What if any specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?

I would like to see a “FreeCycle Day”.  For example, on a Saturday morning residents can put to the curb any items they would like to give away for free.  Whatever materials are left behind, residents can then bring them to the recycling/bulk drop-off center in the afternoon.  I would also like to explore opportunities to create age-restricted housing in town.  Not only would this add to the diversity of our town, it would provide older members of our community who choose to down-size a viable option.

If there’s anything you’d like to add, please do so here:

I consider it an honor to be able to run for Council.  I have been a member of the Fair Haven community as a resident for 42 years, a teacher at Knollwood School for 23 years and volunteered to work for countless committees and organizations.  If elected to Fair Haven Council I would work tirelessly to maintain our sense of community in this challenging economic climate.

Find the ballot here. And below are the locations of polling places by district.

1 Knights of Columbus 200 Fair Haven Road
2 Knights of Columbus 200 Fair Haven Road
3 Fair Haven Community Center 35 Fisk Street
4 Fair Haven Community Center 35 Fisk Street
5 Knights of Columbus 200 Fair Haven Road
6 Fair Haven Community Center 35 Fisk Street