Joan Gotti. (Click toi enlarge.)

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

On the ballot are four candidates: Democrats Joan Gotti and Stephanie Keenan, and Republicans Kevin Brennan and Michael Holzapfel.

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

Name: Joan G Gotti

Age: 60

Address: 71 Seven Bridges Road, Little Silver

How long have you been a resident of Little Silver? I have lived in the Two Rivers area for thirty years with the last five here in Little Silver.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Middletown, NJ.

Where did you go to high school? Mater Dei, New Monmouth, NJ

Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree? Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond Kentucky: BS in Speech Communications and Human Relations, American University, Washington, DC: MS Organization Development

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

What do you do for a living? Retired Executive from a Fortune 50 financial services organization

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

I have varied volunteer experiences in Monmouth County. I have been a volunteer for a Red Bank tutoring center. I delivered Meals on Wheels. I was part of the core group of alumni who saved Mater Dei from going out of business, with a focus on executive search, teacher hiring, policies and procedures development including developing the athletics coach’s manual.  I was the President of the Board of Directors for the Holmdel Theatre Company. I have been a mentor of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  I volunteer for Monmouth County Parks department maintaining trails and park gardens and Little Silver clean up days sponsored by the Environmental Commission. I am the Vice Chair of the Little Silver Democratic Municipal Committee and co-founder and President of the Little Silver Democratic Club. I serve on the Board of a large healthcare provider focused on women and their families who live below the poverty line.

Party affiliation: Democrat

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

Being a Democrat is important to me because the party brings different perspectives to the table especially for those who are often not heard or ignored. The inclusive nature of the Democratic Party has always appealed to me.

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

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my role model in public life because she always sought to make things more fair, and did so through her intellect, perseverance and communications skills. She was a teacher (a Rutgers professor, no less) and an effective advocate, all while juggling the responsibilities of motherhood, family and career.

Why are you running for Little Silver council?

I seek to provide more voices at the table including women and Democrats. By bringing this kind of diversity and inclusion to the Council, giving voice to folks often not heard, it is my view that we can balance and optimize the sometimes countervailing interests of Little Silver families, singles, retirees, businesses – all of our stakeholders that make Little Silver such a wonderful place.

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

Managing the effects of climate change and community engagement with transparency are areas to be addressed.  Additionally, waste management is becoming more expensive and we can expect it to be a burden on our taxes. In one regard, we have to get back to our farming, homestead community roots and learn to have less refuse going to the county dump. Education of our community to compost effectively and learning how to put less in the trash will enable us to mitigate these issues.

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

1) Active and bold community outreach through surveys, phone calls, and when the time comes door to door communication to strengthen our collective sense of involvement and participation in town civics and policy in Little Silver. 2) Leverage all of our volunteers across existing commissions, leagues and boards to become more effective environmental stewards and coordinate our efforts to maximize impact 3) Further use of technology to effectively leverage community involvement, allowing access to the decision-making process easier and earlier.

A Master Plan review may be on the agenda in 2021. What if any changes do you think should be made to the plan, and why?

The Master Plan should develop specific goals and reduce levels of the waste stream. A robust Master Plan needs to be developed to navigate the issues of climate change on our beautiful waterfront community. A fresh municipal Master Plan is needed – one that recognizes the current changes occurring in climate, flood mitigation, traffic, sidewalks and roads, waste management and recycling, development in neighboring towns, and more frequent changes in commercial activity.  This policy outline document should not be an edict from the council, but a participatory, living framework of community involvement.

How would you rate the borough council’s fiscal management, and what if any changes do you think are needed? 

The Borough is in direct control of 22% -23% municipal (including open space) of our property tax revenue. Our Borough employees do a wonderful job managing the finances of our town. Their dedication and hard work have benefited the entire community. More can be done to ensure the 15% of Little Silver tax revenue managed by the County Freeholders is spent effectively (especially given they gave themselves an 11% pay raise in the time of a pandemic and widespread food insecurity throughout the county) and is paying off for our town. We need to understand how they spend money and what the benefit is to Little Silver. We should have a Council liaison to them to ensure we are getting responsive, transparent services and information to effectively manage the Borough.

Controversy over a cell tower three years ago prompted calls for better borough government communications with residents. Have communications improved? What more if anything needs to be done in this area?

The manner in which the cell tower issue was handled was far from ideal.  Deliberate, proactive communications with the community continues to be an area that needs focus. Recent Council decisions indicate improvement is still needed. Both setting of expectations and execution are issues that need more deliberation with input from all parties before decisions are mad. The Council needs to provide more comprehensive assessment and provide residents with the information they need to determine whether what they requested will meet expectations. Additionally, it appears that the County GOP and Freeholders initiate requests they expect the Council to follow and execute whether it be a resolution or ordinance. Stronger community engagement when these types of matters arise needs to occur so that one party or one person does not dominate what gets accomplished in town. If something gets introduced at the last minute, it is important to proactively engage the community. The Borough website has improved but it must be easier to navigate when searching for information.

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?

Since the start of the pandemic, public meetings have been held remotely via Zoom and phone which has enabled more people to participate.  It enables people to participate who do not like to drive at night or who would have to hire a babysitter. Hopefully, Zoom will continue after the pandemic.

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

My values inform my life choice, my actions. Join me and my running mate Stephanie Keenan in mitigating climate change so we can preserve our town, to be part of the conversation and direction – to hear your voices with transparency and inclusion.

Voting is a civic responsibility. Cast your vote with pride. Do not be discouraged from voting. I hope to earn your vote.

The Little Silver ballot can be found here.

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