LITTLE SILVER: HEALY Q&A

Christopher Healy. (Click to enlarge.)

Two three-year terms on the Little Silver Borough Council are up for grabs in the November 7 election. On the ballot are four candidates: incumbent Republican Dane Mihlon; his running mate, Michael Holzapfel; and Democrats Christopher Healy and Matthew Cohen,

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

Name: Christopher B. Healy

Age: 42

Address:  71 Standish Road, Little Silver, New Jersey

How long have you been a resident of Little Silver?

I have lived in Little Silver since 2012, but my connection to Little Silver is much older and deeper than that.  My wife Abi (Winters) was raised in Little Silver and it was the first New Jersey town I ever visited when Abi invited me home to meet her parents as freshmen in college. Since I moved to New Jersey in 2005 we have spent virtually every Sunday having dinner here with Abi’s parents. Before moving here in 2012 we lived in neighboring shore towns, but worked and saved to get back so our kids could have a great education and we could have the sense of community that makes Little Silver so special.

Where did you grow up?  I grew up in Easthampton, Massachusetts.

Where did you go to high school?  I attended high school at Holyoke Catholic High School in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

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

I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Studies, with minors in Political Science, Forestry, and Sociology from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  I earned my law degree, cum laude, from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when?  I have never served in the military but proudly support my nephew who recently enlisted in the United States Air Force.

What do you do for a living?  I am an attorney practicing primarily in the areas of real estate, land use, and municipal law.

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

I have been actively involved in the communities in which I have lived. Prior to moving to Little Silver I served on the Environmental Commission and Planning Board of Ocean Township. In Little Silver I serve as a trustee of the Education Foundation of Little Silver, helping to shape technology opportunities for our kids’ educational advancement.  I also serve on the Board of Directors of Parker Homestead – 1665, Inc., the non-profit corporation tasked with preserving one of Little Silver’s oldest, and most significant historical treasures.  In addition, I have volunteered as an assistant baseball coach in the Little Silver Rec. program and serve as a volunteer mediator in the Ocean County court.

Party affiliation:  Democrat.

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

New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia famously said once, “There’s no Democratic or Republican way to fix a pothole.” Thankfully, municipal government does not lend itself to the partisanship that divides Trenton and Washington these days.  That said, I believe that a diversity of ideas and viewpoints is important when addressing issues facing any community so it is crucial that our Council is not all one party or the other.  When people who come at issues from differing perspectives sit down and bounce ideas off of each other they can solve problems in ways they may not have previously thought possible.  My father, a state police officer, instilled in me the broad ideals of the democratic party:  that everyone should be treated equally and play by the same rules, that communities like ours succeed when everyone works together rather than separately, and that everyone deserves a fair shot at the same opportunities. I am grateful for those lessons and look forward to bringing them to the table to help solve the issues facing Little Silver.

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

I have many people in public life that I look up to.  One of note is the late Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.  He was often the lone voice of dissent on the Supreme Court and was known as its conscience.  He was a strong advocate for open government, protection of the rights of citizens to voice their concerns to the government, and the preservation of the environment.  He once wrote, “Common sense often makes the best law.”  Too often those in charge lose sight of that basic principle.  I want to make sure that our Council has the benefit of a diversity of ideas, acts with common sense, and allows all of the residents of Little Silver to be heard on issues before final decisions are made.

Why are you running for Little Silver council?

As the son of a police officer and a nurse, and the product of a small town similar to Little Silver, I understand the value of public service and community.   I believe my experiences, background and education allow me  to offer up a new voice and different approach to help solve some of the more pressing problems we are facing; I want to make sure our Council is accountable to all of us and doesn’t make huge, important decisions without everyone’s input; I want to make sure Little Silver becomes an example of sustainability and energy efficiency in New Jersey; and I want to find ways to make our tax dollars go further through improved efficiencies in our budget.  More importantly though,  I want to preserve and promote the wonderful community we have in Little Silver so my boys and their friends will want to come back here to raise their own families when they grow up – just like my wife Abi did.

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

The most pressing issue facing Little Silver right now is the breakdown of trust between the Council and residents who feel like they are not being heard.  I will seek to restore that trust through regular open communication with the community via social media and town hall meetings about significant issues that may impact the residents before they occur so everyone will know their voice matters and will be heard.

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

Specific initiatives that I think are important and will work to accomplish include: more and better community involvement through social media and town hall meetings; a free energy audit to enhance Little Silver’s energy efficiency and reduce utility costs and the tax burden to residents; common sense “green” initiatives such as an anti-idling ordinance that will help Little Silver achieve elite Sustainable Jersey status; development of bike/walk plan that will reduce traffic, improve residents’ health by encouraging active modes of transportation, enhance our downtown and support local businesses; elimination of red tape for certain improvements to residents’ homes; and joining the Community Rating System to reduce flood insurance premiums for Little Silver residents.

The new cell tower at borough hall quickly became a hot issue earlier this year. Was that that because of faulty leadership?

The short answer to that question is yes.  The Council and the planning board members who voted for the tower, including Mr. Mihlon and Mr. Holzapfel, did us all a disservice as a result of their inability to envision the impact that an industrial behemoth placed in the middle of Little Silver might have.  To add insult to injury some members of the Council then attempted to pass the blame for their lack of foresight back to the public, citing a lack of participation in the process after “legally sufficient” notice had been given.  Leadership means doing what is right even when no one is watching – and what was right in this case was for the Council to question whether its legal notice was resonating with the public when nobody (including immediate neighbors most severely impacted by the tower) showed up at meetings to hear about what was happening.  Instead, the Council chose to assume the worst about the rest of us – that we were simply apathetic about the issue.  That type of “we know best” leadership diminishes the voices of constituents and ignores a shared vision of how Little Silver should grow and evolve, which is why it is time for new leadership and new thinking.

What should the council do to address the continuing concerns raised about the tower?

Simply put, the Council should prevent any future development of the tower.

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

Since announcing my candidacy in May of this year, I have been actively engaging with the community in person and via social media.  I encourage all residents of Little Silver to visit my website, www.healy4council.com or follow me on Facebook (@healy4council), Twitter (@healy4LS) and Instagram (@healy4council) to learn more about me and my commitment to Little Silver.  People can also reach me via email at healy4council@gmail.com with any questions or ideas they have about how to improve our quality of life in Little Silver.

John Burton of the Two River Times will moderate a candidates tonight (Wednesday, October 24) from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Markham Place School.

The Little Silver ballot can be found here. And below are the locations of polling places by district.

1 Borough Hall 480 Prospect Avenue
2 Women’s Club 111 Church Street
3 St. John’s Chapel 325 Little Silver Point Road
4 Women’s Club 111 Church Street
5 St. John’s Chapel 325 Little Silver Point Road
6 Little Silver Public Library 480 Prospect Avenue
7 Borough Hall 480 Prospect Avenue