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 Patel’s written responses to questions posed to all four candidates recently by redbankgreen.
Name: Jessica (Jess) Patel
Address: 205 Fair Haven Road, Fair Haven, NJ 07704
How long have you been a resident of Fair Haven?
10 wonderful years 🙂
Where did you grow up?
Where did you go to high school?
Sparta High School
Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree?
Yes. I have a Bachelor of Science from New York University in Interpersonal Relations and Journalism. I also have a Master of Education from Hunter College in Early Childhood Education.
Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when?
What do you do for a living?
I am a homemaker and stay-at-home Mom to 4 children, ages 3 through 10. I also work part-time as VP of Marketing for We Gift, a startup company focused on charitable fundraising. In addition, I am a Registered Yoga Teacher.
Please tell us a little bit about your community involvement efforts, if any.
I am quite involved as a volunteer with the PTA, specifically as a class parent, a grade level coordinator for Art Appreciation, a member of the It’s OK to Be Different committee, and various other programs. I’m also a Den Leader for Fair Haven Cub Scout Pack 127.
Party affiliation: Democrat
How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?
My core values certainly overlap with my party at a national level. When it comes down to local politics, however, I think that the person matters so much more than just which party label they wear. It seems to me that what is, and what should be, most important are the concerns of our residents, as well as cultivating Fair Haven as a community in which people want to grow families, grow roots, and grow memories.
Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why?
I have had the recent pleasure of coming to know The Work of Byron Katie, and it has been truly inspirational and life changing. She is a teacher, though she wouldn’t call herself that; her lesson is simple and profound: by thoroughly questioning one’s own stressful thoughts, one can be free from suffering and anxiety. What’s left is a mind at peace, full of love, and content with things just as they are. It’s not always easy, but this is how I try to live my life these days. Thank you Byron Katie!
Why are you running for Fair Haven council?
I would like to bridge a gap between what happens at the decision-making level and what trickles down to the community. I see myself as someone that Fair Haven residents can connect with, approach, ask candid questions, and have engaging, thought provoking conversations with. I’m simply a neighbor volunteering to give back to this great town that we all love. I realize it won’t be an easy job, and I look forward to the challenge.
What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them?
Based on many conversations I’ve personally shared with residents, people are quite happy here. That’s why we come and we stay! Residents DO want their voices to be heard and respected. That means complaints as well as praise, suggestions as well as inquiries. By reaching out to Fair Haven residents, it’s become clear to me that people want to be involved. They feel empowered and validated when they are in-the-know and have input regarding what is happening around town. This is the key to progress.
What if any specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?
Every member on the Council was a “newbie” at one point. If I get elected, the learning curve will be steep, but not impassable. The townspeople I’ve met have been overwhelmingly supportive of my efforts. They’ve opened up their homes and their hearts to me, and filled my mind with their joys, their concerns, and their hopes for the future of our town. In that regard I feel well prepared for this job. As far as policies and procedures…I’ll have more information for you after November 7th!
If there’s anything you’d like to add, please do so here:
The most important thing for me is the support I have from my husband Kal, our kids Emme, Jude, Olive, and Gibson, and my dad John, who lives with us. Without their encouragement, enthusiasm, understanding, and commitment I most certainly would not be able to take this opportunity on. I’m also surrounded by a close network of friends who constantly lift me up, and keep me moving in the right direction.
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|