Author Archive

PILOT Programs Hurt Westfield Schools

June 4, 2021

Last week, Westfield’s Mayor and Council introduced for approval both a 193-unit mixed use development on South Avenue, and a 30-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) property tax break to the corporate developer.

While it is true that the South Avenue site was included in Westfield’s 2017 state-mandated affordable housing plan, it is equally true that no prior administration ever approved a PILOT tax giveaway for this project.  That brilliant idea has sprung entirely from the mind of Mayor Brindle and her administration.  Why should the Town’s hand-picked, for-profit developer not pay property taxes at the same rate as you and me, and do its part to fund our schools?

Before Mayor Brindle, properties in Westfield were developed or redeveloped without any tax breaks: the Savannah on Prospect, the new Trader Joe’s and Ferraro’s buildings, the development of the former Pan American Cleaners site on the South Avenue circle, and The Parker project at the former Westfield Car Wash site are just a few examples.  Why do developers need tax break hand-outs now?  What has changed?  Our local leadership.

The cost of the new South Avenue project is estimated at over $52 million.  Rather than pay property taxes on that value like the rest of us, the developer has cut a deal with the Brindle Administration.  That deal ensures that, rather than Westfield’s schools getting roughly 60% of the property taxes that otherwise would be paid on the project, they will get zero.  Zilch.  Nothing; except, of course, more students.

This school tax avoidance scheme is just the beginning of what Mayor Brindle has planned for Westfield.  As a result of her actions, the Lord & Taylor site and several downtown parking lots, among other parcels, also qualify for the 30-year PILOT giveaways that will strip our schools of funding while at the same time increasing the student population.  That is a recipe for disaster.

There is only one way to end overdevelopment in Westfield and unnecessary property tax breaks to developers that prejudice our schools, and that is to end the Brindle Administration.

Sam Della Fera, Jr.

Westfield, NJ

Chairman of the Westfield Republican Committee.

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/westfield/categories/letters-to-the-editor/articles/letter-pilot-programs-hurt-westfield-schools

2021’s Best & Worst Small Cities to Start a Business

April 26, 2021


For Immediate Release


This has been an eye-opening and frankly embarrassing week for our community, after multiple news outlets reported on a national study that cited Westfield as the worst small town in America to start a business.

Westfield is a special place that has long been defined by our attractive downtown, and the unfortunate reality now is that our local economy is failing. While it should not take a bad news cycle to spark change, hopefully this can serve as the motivation for us to act.

For those who have not seen it, a recent study by WalletHub looked at over 20 different metrics to determine the best and worst small towns in America to start a small business. Unfortunately, Westfield came in dead last out of 1,337 cities.

Additionally, the New Jersey Senate Budget Committee singled out Westfield as an example of abusing COVID-19 grant monies distributed by the state for small business relief. Senator Sam Thompson wrote, “Westfield’s agency was given money to waste on frivolous expenditures. Their funded requests included: purchasing 3,000 canvas tote bags emblazoned with the agency’s logo; buying new ‘canvas covers for parkettes’; hiring a New York City-based consultant at a proposed cost of more than $200 per hour; and renting a storefront for a holiday greeting office.”

The fact is there are over 55,000 square feet of vacancies in our downtown, not counting Lord & Taylor. The abandoned stores and constant turnover of new business are obvious to anyone who passes through. We acknowledge that the private sector and specifically small businesses have shouldered the majority of the pain as a result of COVID-19; however, it appears as if competing downtowns such as Cranford and Summit are not struggling nearly as much as Westfield.

When Mayor Brindle ran for office, she said her top priority was revitalizing our downtown. While she may have tried to make a difference, her approach has simply failed. She has ignored concrete, well thought-out solutions in favor of splashy events and quick fixes. Her frivolous actions have drained 60% of the town’s surplus when what our local economy needed was long-term investment in our small businesses.

It is time for a change in local leadership in Westfield. The Mayor and Council are elected to serve as our leaders, not an exclusive party planning committee that doles out the tough decisions to commissions. We are a group of serious, innovative leaders with the experience and readiness to make a difference and put Westfield back at the top, rather than dead last in the country.

JoAnn Neylan, Candidate for Westfield Mayor
Amanda Como, Candidate for Westfield Town Council Ward 1
Denise Garrett, Candidate for Westfield Town Council Ward 2
Shawn Mullen, Candidate for Westfield Town Council Ward 3
James Restivo, Candidate for Westfield Town Council Ward 4

https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonconstable/2021/04/22/youll-never-guess-which-state-has-the-worst-small-cities-for-starting-a-business/?sh=6bdd1674b71b

Candidate Statement: The Smoke Screen Around the Cannabis Commission

April 24, 2021

https://www.tapinto.net/articles/candidate-statement-the-smoke-screen-around-the-cannabis-commission

Candidate Statement: Shawn Mullen Advocates Targeted Development, Support of Businesses

April 16, 2021

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/westfield/sections/elections/articles/candidate-statement-shawn-mullen-advocates-targeted-development-support-of-businesses

Another Broken Brindle Budget

March 31, 2021

The Brindle Administration introduced Westfield’s 2021 municipal budget last week,
patting itself on the back for delivering to residents the highest tax increase in seven years, and
for using another $3,795,000 of our surplus savings. That surplus is now projected to fall to only
$5.8 million at year end, down from $14.5 million the day that Mayor Brindle took office four
years ago, with residents realizing little in return.
In addition to depleting our municipal savings, Mayor Brindle’s proposed budget
increases town spending by more than $3.7 million since 2017. And here’s what we have to
show for it: more empty storefronts downtown, electronic signs warning us to lock our doors,
and not a single new playing field for our children.
Last year at budget time, Mayor Brindle openly criticized the town’s traditional financial
planning and surplus creation, saying that it was an “approach that a financial advisor would
apply to a couple in retirement, ensuring there is adequate funding to support basic needs for
their remaining years, while leaving something for the grandkids.” Exactly.
For decades that approach sustained Westfield as the kind of town that so many,
including you and me, wanted to move to and live in. Mayor Brindle’s approach certainly is
different: spending is up, surplus is down, and our quality of life is suffering.
We deserve more sustainable budgeting that better spends our tax dollars on reducing
crime, improving our downtown, creating new playing fields, and rebuilding our surplus. The
town cannot continue to increase spending and taxes on residents, while simultaneously seeking
to hand out tax breaks to commercial property owners and developers.
Mayor Brindle has had four years to deliver a better budget to Westfield residents. She
hasn’t. Time is up, and it’s time for her, and us, to move on.

Sam Della Fera

RELEASE: Westfield Republicans Launch Diverse Slate of Candidates Working to Unite our Community

February 17, 2021

For Immediate Release

Westfield, NJ – Today, Westfield Republicans announced five highly qualified candidates running for the offices of Mayor and Councilperson in each Ward. This diverse group of candidates seeking to serve the community is running as a team, putting Westfield before politics and working to unite our community. 

“Today’s severe national political climate has divided this community,” said JoAnn Neylan, candidate for Westfield Mayor. “I’m running to reunite Westfield around excellent public service. We need to get back to talking to our neighbors and working together to solve the problems facing our town. As your Mayor, I will listen to all residents – ensuring every person’s voice is heard – and I will always put politics aside and do what is best for Westfield.”

JoAnn and her husband raised their three children in Westfield. She formerly served as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn where she helped put sexual predators behind bars. From 2004-2019 she served as Westfield’s Second Ward Councilwoman. She enters the race with deep-rooted experience in local government. As the former Chair of the Finance Policy Committee, and hands-on leader during Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, she understands what it takes to implement fiscal discipline without sacrificing best-in-class government services. 

Amanda Como, candidate for Ward 1 Council added, “My family fell in love with Westfield 14 years ago and has lived here ever since. Needless to say a lot has changed over the course of those 14 years. Most recently, it feels like there’s a toxic divide trickling down from the national political scene. I am a helper and leader by nature and have decided to take action to run and serve my community in the hopes of bringing us forward together.”

Amanda is an entrepreneur and small business owner. She is a dedicated volunteer, having served as the Westfield Welcome Club Fundraising Chair and a volunteer Girls’ Basketball Coach for the Westfield YMCA, Westfield Recreation Department and Westfield Basketball Association Travel Program. She was a coach for the Girls Softball League of Westfield, Girl Scout leader and troop Variety Show Coordinator, and was frequently class parent during her children’s years at Franklin Elementary School.

“I am ready and eager to bring my leadership experience and business savvy mindset to the Westfield Town Council as a candidate for Ward 2,” said Denise Garrett. “I am committed to putting community before partisan politics, and as Councilwoman, I will champion transparency and communication, fiscal responsibility and accountability, the preservation of our small-town atmosphere and values, and ensuring we bring our children top-quality sports programs and facilities.”

Denise is a compliance professional at one of the world’s foremost financial institutions. She currently holds the position of Executive Director serving as the Americas Head of Infrastructure Compliance, leading coverage for the Firm’s Operations Divisions within the Institutional and Wealth Management businesses. As a mother to three young children, Denise is a passionate member of the community. She is an active parishioner at the Parish Community of St. Helen’s, teaching Faith Formation children’s classes. Denise is also an active part of the Wilson School community as a PTO volunteer and class parent. Denise and her husband Bill settled in Westfield 16 years ago as newlyweds with the hope of growing their family in a thriving town with traditional values, intimate atmosphere, and deeply connected sense of community.

“When serving this country in Law Enforcement and the military, politics wasn’t even an afterthought,” said Shawn Mullen, Ward 3 Council candidate. “Serving on local government should be no different. I believe in putting community first and giving back as evidenced by my background. Westfield has offered my family so much over the years and now it’s my time to give back to Westfield.” 

Shawn, a 22-year resident of Westfield, is a retired FBI agent with a long career in public service, including more than two decades as an officer in the US Army Reserve. As an FBI agent, Shawn investigated fraudsters, drug dealers and violent criminals. He led a multi-agency task force that arrested dozens of individuals who defrauded public programs and recovered hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Shawn has also served his local community for over 20 years as a member of the American Legion, Martin Wallberg Post #3. During the 2003 Iraq War, he ran the local Blue Star Banner program, which recognized the families of Westfield service members deployed to the war zone.

“At the local level, it is important to have a bias towards action and get things done. The only way we can overcome the challenges before us today is as a unified Westfield, putting party politics aside,” said James Restivo, candidate for Westfield Town Council Ward 4. “As Councilman, I will work hard for you to preserve our tax dollars, improve our parks and fields, and rebuild trust between the town and local government. I will work with all council members to erase the lines that have divided us and put the needs of Ward 4 residents, along with the entire Westfield community, at the heart of every decision.”

James and his family have lived in Westfield for over 13 years, raising their 2 children in a town that has “just always felt like home.” He and his wife, Jennifer, are active in the McKinley School community, Westfield sports and are big supporters of the Westfield Music Programs. James is currently employed at an industry leading organic and all-natural sweetener company here in New Jersey, focusing on marketing and managing national sales accounts.

Mayor, JoAnn Neylan – Read more about JoAnn 

Ward 1 Council, Amanda Como – Read more about Amanda

Ward 2 Council, Denise Garrett – Read more about Denise 

Ward 3 Council, Shawn Mullen – Read more about Shawn 

Ward 4 Council, James Restivo– Read more about James 

Today in Washington, DC

January 6, 2021

The constitution must be respected. Democracy must be respected. The peaceful transition of power must be respected.

What we are seeing in Washington right now is sickening.

We completely condemn the violent acts in our nations great Capital today. Pray for peace.

Today is Election Day!

November 3, 2020

Please exercise your civic duty and VOTE! This election is unique in that it is almost entirely Vote by Mail! Please be sure you received, filled out, and returned your Vote by Mail Ballot. Ballots can be returned to one of the following locations until 8pm this evening.

You can also return your ballot by USPS (make sure it is postmarked), or hand it in today at your polling location. Click here to find your polling location.

With the exception of persons with disabilities, voters who go to the polls today will NOT be permitted to vote on a voting machine, and will instead be given a Provisional Paper Ballot. A Provisional Paper Ballot is similar to voting on your VBM Ballot but requires that you wait in line to receive a ballot from a poll worker.  An ADA-compliant voting machine will be available for persons with disabilities which prevent them from voting on a paper ballot. Such voter must certify on an affidavit that they cannot vote on a paper ballot due to their disability.

We URGE you to use your Vote By Mail Ballot, as Provisional Paper Ballots are counted last and must be checked against the VBM Ballots that have already been cast before they are accepted.

Still have questions? 

Visit unioncountyvotes.com for answers to all your questions, or email us at [email protected] for more information.

Are You Registered to Vote?

October 13, 2020

Check your voter registration status at https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/registration-check if you are not sure if you are registered. If you aren’t registered, you can register at www.unioncountyvotes.com/register-to-vote. Today is the last day to register to vote to be eligible to vote in the November 3rd General Election.

Registered to vote, but haven’t received your Vote By Mail ballot yet?Please sign up for an account at to track your ballot at https://nj.gov/state/elections/vote-track-my-ballot.shtml and see when it was mailed to you. If it shows as sent and has been more than 8 days since sent, please contact the Union County Clerk at 908-527-4996. Please note that newly registered voters or voters with recent address changes will have ballots mailed around October 20th.

Please check www.unioncountyvotes.com/ for answers to other questions you have about voting in the 2020 General Election.

All Union County Vote By Mail Ballots Have Been Mailed!

October 5, 2020

ALL registered voters have now been sent their Vote By Mail Ballot for the 2020 General Election. PLEASE check your mailbox for your ballot. Did you receive your Vote By Mail Ballot and need help filling it out? Are you concerned that you have not yet received your ballot? Do you know where and how to return your ballot? Please visit unioncountyvotes.com for answers to all your Vote by Mail questions.

Remember, you will NOT be able to vote at your polling location on a voting machine on Election Day (with a few exceptions for those with disabilities). Please educate yourself on how to make your vote count!