The mayoralty and three seats on the Fair Haven Borough Council are up for grabs in the November 6 election.
On the ballot are Republican Mayor Ben Lucarelli, who is running unopposed; incumbent Republican Councilwoman Betsy Koch and her Republican running mates Jim Banahan and Jacquie Rice; and Democrats Evan Hughes, Cameron Spector and Carolyn Williams.
Here are Hughes’ written responses to questions posed to all Fair Haven candidates recently by redbankgreen.
Name: Evan Joseph Hughes
Address: 16 DeNormandie Avenue Fair Haven, NJ 07704
How long have you been a resident of Fair Haven? I have been living here for 5 years.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Little Silver, in the neighborhood off of Pinkney Road.
Where did you go to high school? I graduated from RBR.
Did you graduate from college? If so, what school, with what degree?
After spending a few years blacksmithing after high school, I was studying political science and economics at Brookdale nine years ago, when I decided to take a full time job as a karate sensei here in town. The Great Recession hit, and it made more sense to invest myself in starting my own dojo or taking over for Sensei Jim when he retires.
Have you served in the military? If so, which branch and when?
No, but my family has a long history of military service and I have great respect for those who serve.
What do you do for a living?
I teach martial arts 6 days a week.
Please tell us a little bit about your community involvement efforts, if any.
I donate my time to black belt testings (4 hours each on average) here at the dojo, running self defense seminars for the Boy Scouts, and I ran a women’s self defense class/fundraiser for 180 Turning Lives Around.
Party affiliation: Democrat.
How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to be a member of your party?
I was unaffiliated for most of my adult life, but have voted Democratic for president every time since John Kerry, a few days after my 18th birthday. I have voted for members of both parties at the local level, and I am primarily attracted to leaders who promote fiscal responsibility tempered with environmental stewardship. I am running as a Democrat because I believe the party is currently the only one addressing the concerns of my generation—higher education, healthcare and climate change. I am also seriously concerned with the direction the GOP has taken under Trump.
Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why?
While there have been so many admirable political figures throughout the last century that it’s hard to pick just one, Martin Luther King, Jr. stands out. An advocate for justice, peace, and equality, he gave us two of my favorite quotes. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” and “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
Why are you running for office?
I am running because I feel both parties (one in particular) are failing to adequately rise to the challenge of climate change. My generation—who came of age in the Great Recession, many of whom are struggling under the burden of student loans—are underrepresented in government. I love Fair Haven, and want to see it remain the diverse, quirky town it always has been.
What’s your opinion of the proposed borough acquisition of the former Sunoco station for the purpose of constructing a new borough hall?
My instinct is that I would prefer to see the land used for business development, but the lot has been sitting idle for years, and the current police station/community center is beyond repair and is not ADA compliant. What I do like about the location is that is well placed to receive a lot of sunlight. After Sandy, we were one of the last towns to get power back. Obviously, panels on the roof wouldn’t power the whole town, but keeping the police station running on generators in a similar emergency is expensive, inefficient, and unsustainable beyond a few weeks. I also like that it could provide residents who cannot afford generators (or just run out of gas) a place to charge their phones, so they can stay in contact with loved ones and business contacts.
What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them?
Property taxes are a perennial issue, and I will work hard to make sure we keep the borough government as efficient as possible. Of the residents I’ve spoken to, more have complained about the brush cleanup than any other issue. Everyone I’ve spoken to would like the planning board to be tougher on developers, who they feel are given carte blanche to ruin neighborhoods with monstrous mcmansions, while ironically giving the people who actually intend to live in the house they are building a harder time about more reasonable designs.
What if any specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?
I will work hard to communicate with any contractors we hire for capital improvements and relay the message to residents and businesses, to make sure they aren’t caught off guard by a construction crew showing up unannounced to upend their life. For example, our dojo had a months-long unannounced “improvement” to our parking lot, the final product made no functional difference to our use, but now we have to fight the landlord over new maintenance fees. Residents and businesses should be notified, to the best of the ability of the council, about both the planning stage and the actual construction.
When it comes to the brush cleanup, we are the only town in the Two River area with our own brush facility, and the only town with serious issues getting our brush removed. 80% of the brush that passes through the facility comes from Rumson, and the residents near the facility have serious health and safety concerns that the council hasn’t yet addressed. I think we need a reassessment of our shared services agreement to ensure our residents are getting the best bang for their buck. Storms are only getting heavier, more frequent, and many are happening later in the year.
If there’s anything else you’d like to add, please do so here:
My sister, Laura Clark, is is also running for borough council in Little Silver. Our parents were never especially political, but they imbued us with strong values.