Maziarz seeks to draw from experience, expertise on Warren Township Committee

*Taken From*

WARREN TWP. – Having spent years advising decision-makers across the state, Jolanta Maziarz is transitioning to her new role behind the dais.

Maziarz, who was appointed to the Township Committee in June following the retirement of Carolann Garafola, is seeking a full three-year term on the committee on Tuesday, Nov. 5. A Republican, Maziarz will face Democrat John Fahy and Independent Rick de Pinho on Election Day with one seat available on the committee.

Maziarz, 48, is the Planning Board attorney for several New Jersey towns, also holding positions such as affordable housing counsel and special counsel for land use matters for municipalities. She is the attorney for both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment in neighboring Long Hill Township.

A Mount Horeb Road resident, she and her husband, Janusz, have four children between the ages of 15 and 25, the youngest of whom is a freshman at Watchung Hills Regional High School. They have lived in town for 20 years.

“I think that I offer a different perspective,” Maziarz said in a Friday, Oct. 9, interview. “I offer a lot of experience in this area and I want to help. I love this community.”

Professional Experience

As a result of her experience in municipal government, Maziarz said she has been able to adjust to Township Committee business without facing the steep learning curve that others encounter after attaining local office.

In addition to her work with municipal land use boards, she serves as deputy chair of the Land Use Legislative Committee for the League of Municipalities, among other positions.

She also teaches classes for the League. In upcoming courses, Maziarz will educate mayors and aldermen on topics such as the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the state’s new stormwater fee, or the so-called “rain tax.”

In working with officials from Asbury Park to Rocky Hill, she said she has seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to addressing issues at the local level.

“Drawing on that experience, I can approach issues and do things right in the first place, perhaps,” she said, “instead of through trial and error.”

The biggest issue facing Warren residents today, Maziarz said, is the planned development of multi-family housing complexes associated with Warren’s third-round affordable housing plan.

She said her expertise will be useful to the township in the next phase of the process as builders seek to move forward with development plans. She noted she has seen affordable housing agreements in other towns change for various reasons as developments are blocked due to environmental regulations or permitting issues.

“Towns have had to go back to the drawing board a lot of times,” she said. “I’m seeing that, I understand what that entails and I’m working on that in other places. It’s something that I can certainly assist in if and when something like that arises.”

“We want to make sure the development is being done in a responsible way,” she added.

Asked about her stance on PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) agreements related to new developments, she said she would assess any proposed deals on a case-by-case basis.

A number of residents, including both of her election opponents, have said the agreements could be detrimental to local schools as no portion of PILOT revenue is contractually obligated to go to the school districts, as it would through regular property tax payments.

Maziarz, who noted all four of her children have attended local schools, said she would not approve any PILOT agreement if she feels it would negatively impact the schools or the community.

“In some instances it makes a lot of sense and in others it doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “And if it doesn’t make sense, I’m not going to vote for it.”

{p dir=”ltr”}As an attorney, she said she never makes a decision without first seeing all the facts.

“I want to crunch numbers, I want to see the pros, I want to see the cons,” she said. “There will never be a knee-jerk reaction from me. I will investigate this fully, I will explain my findings to the public and then I’ll make a decision.”

‘Different Perspective’

Maziarz said she wants to continue a legacy of fiscal responsibility on the Township Committee. With an eye on property taxes, she said she would seek to expand shared services with other communities.

Enjoying close relationships with a number of elected officials across the area, she said she can leverage those relationships to not only explore shared service agreements, but to hear different perspectives on how to tackle the issues affecting small towns.

“When you talk through it, sometimes you come up with solutions that you otherwise wouldn’t think of on your own,” she said. “I think my relationships with officials throughout the state, as well as local officials, is very important to get their point of view, to get their perspective, to benefit from their experience.”

Asked what sets her apart from the other two candidates, Maziarz cited experience in municipal government, but also the fact that she is the lone female voice on an otherwise all-male committee. Maziarz is also the only candidate with children.

When initially viewing government from the outside in, she said it was strange to her how so many seven- and nine-member boards were entirely male. She said being a woman offers a different perspective.

“I’ve been trying – and I will continue to try – to recruit more women to fill some of our commissions and our committees with women,” she said.

Maziarz also has her eye on expanding programming opportunities for children and teenagers.

As liaison to the recreation commission, she said she is excited about a new adopt-a-trail program, through which local groups will volunteer to maintain walking trails and encourage their use. As liaison to the library board, she added she would like to help grow the library as a community hub for residents of all ages.

She praised local youth sports programs and the township summer camp program, but said she would like to explore new ways for young people to get together, “especially the teens and tweens – they don’t have a lot to do around here.”

Maziarz said she would be interested in engaging groups like Parent-Teacher Organizations, and possibly school district officials, to explore partnerships or new programming opportunities.

Part of the solution may be enhancing walkability and connectivity in the downtown area, she said.

“It would be nice to think about the center of town and the connections that we can make here, making it more walkable, making it more teen-friendly,” she said. “If we can offer more for those kids, that would be fantastic.”

*Taken From*

 Paid for by Maziarz for Warren Twp Committee,                                                                                                                     79 Mount Horeb Rd, Warren, NJ 07059