FAIR HAVEN: RODRIGUEZ Q&A

Christopher Rodriguez. (Click to enlarge.)

Fair Haven voters will be asked to fill two three-year terms on the borough council in the November 3 election.

On the ballot are three candidates: incumbent Republican Susan Sorensen; incumbent Democrat Christopher Rodriguez; and his running mate, Laline Neff.

Here are Rodriguez’s written responses to questions posed to all three candidates recently by redbankgreen.

Name: Christopher Rodriguez

Age: 47

Address: 134 Buttonwood Dr. Fair Haven NJ 07704

Where did you grow up? Union County, NJ

How long have you been a resident of Fair Haven? 8 Years

Where did you go to high school? St. Benedicts Prep.

Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree? Rutgers College BA, Rutgers University, MA, and Columbia Business School, MBA

Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when? n/a

What do you do for a living? Entrepreneur in the financial technologies sector

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

I have had a variety of opportunities to perform community service since I moving to Fair Haven including volunteering for our recreation sports programs, leading scouting programs for our girls and boys, renewing our trails in the natural area, becoming a Shade Tree commissioner, arranging the Turkey Trot Fun Run six years running (pun intended), manning the Frog Bog at the Firemen’s Fair and being a foot soldier in numerous public school and foundation events as the opportunities have presented themselves. I have always believed the best way to get folks more involved is to show them how fun and fulfilling volunteering can be.

Party affiliation: Democrat

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

At this level of public service, the party is not as important as the person, their expertise, and the character they can bring to the table for the benefit of the community. I grew up in a household that valued public service and were proud members of the Democratic party.

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

I have an enduring desire to serve the public due to a family role model. My late cousin, Congressman Matthew J. Rinaldo, has always been an inspiration. He was a County Freeholder, a State Senator and served the people of NJ in the US Congress for the 7th and 12th Districts across twenty years. His unwavering dedication to public service and his affiliation with St. Benedict’s Prep and Rutgers always gave me a special connection to his legacy. His kindness and passion to serve has had a lasting impact.

Why are you running for office?

I believe I can make a positive impact by contributing my time and skills to Fair Haven

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

I view 5 topics to be the most pressing in Fair Haven: 1) our facilities: reconstruction of our police department, department of public works, and recreation center 2) improvements to the sidewalks, curbs and roadways, 3) a focus on pocket parks and improvement to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, 4) addressing the brush and leaf pick up process inducing the collection and safe processing our natural debris, and lastly, though no less important, 5) a continued focus on our finances.

How do I plan to address these? We have committees set up for many of the topics above in which I actively participate. I view my role as representing the will of the people to address these issues with solutions that would come with their approval.

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

As head of the facilities committee coupled the needs of our current facilities, voters can expect my focus and energy to be directed at resolving these issues in a cost-effective way.

The borough’s brush-grinding operation has become a problem for residents in the area of Hendrickson Place and William Street, with complaints about truck traffic, road safety, noise and more. What needs to be done?

As a member of the recently formed Brush Committee in 2020, I spend a good deal of time on this topic in the community and in meetings with committee members. We recently posted a survey and may need to do a second survey to fully reveal the best solution set. Personally, I think it can be broken up into two phases, near-term and longer-term. I get the sense that the town backs a reduction in the intense use of the brush facility and our roadways. In the longer run, we are exploring options that appeal to the widest group of residents considering health, safety, cost and impact on our environment.

The borough government recently embarked on a third attempt to upgrade the police, community center and public works facilities.

  1. What if anything should be learned from the first two attempts? The use of public land and design of boro buildings is not a simple matter. As mentioned above, reflecting the will of the people is critical and as a result, we are not rushing these designs and concept plans. Listening and accounting for public feedback is the best way forward.
  1. What guiding principles would you bring to addressing the issues? 1) continue open public forums and feedback sessions, 2) generate quality iterations and refinement of designs and 3) convert the feedback loop into cost-effective and quality facilities.

Since the start of the pandemic, public meetings have been held remotely via Zoom and phone. What if any lessons from this change should be carried forward when in-person meetings can again be held?

I believe the single best result from the video conference approach is the ability to have a full digital record of the session in perpetuity. We can go back and see the intent and hear the words spoken by the public and the officials to have the most accurate historical record possible. Video recordings also give folks who can’t make the meetings a chance to view them after the fact on their own time.

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

It is an honor to serve the people of Fair Haven. I hope to continue to bring expertise and energy as I represent the views and desires of our community in preserving our traditions and building for the next generation.

Find the ballot here. Here’s how to cast a vote in the election, which is being conducted primarily by mail.

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