Questions for the 2020 Candidates: Ward 3 Council Craig Cayetano
TAPinto Hawthorne sent a questionnaire to the candidates to help residents get an idea of where they stand on some issues as election day draws near.
The Third Ward council seat was won by the late Garrett Sinning (R) in the 2019 election. When Sinning passed in November, Anne Marie Sasso and Michael Sciarra sought to fill the seat as interim-councilmember, with Sciarra ultimately carrying the council's vote. As interim-councilman, he would serve until a special election was held in November. There are three candidates seeking the votes of Ward Three residents.
By John Van Vliet
October 12, 2020
What special experience do you bring that will benefit the residents of Hawthorne by serving as Ward 3 council member that sets you apart from your competitors?
CAYETANO - I am constantly involved in the community with cleanups and working with our local small businesses on events. I attend council meetings and make comments. I think we need more than the status quo, a younger approach, fresh face and someone that brings new innovative ideas to the conversation. I think we are missing that element on the town council now. I have been campaigning in the streets, going door to door, writing and talking to people since last year's race for town council.
I grew up in a low-income household and can relate to people's day-to-day struggles during this ongoing crisis. I have worked as a veterinary technician and at sales, which allows me to have compassion, objectivity and the ability to negotiate on behalf of the residents of Ward 3. I am an environmental activist that is involved in numerous groups: Hawthorne Environmental Commission/Green Team, Passaic County SPCA, ANJEC and the Sierra Club. I helped to start a mutual aid group: Mutual Passaic County during the pandemic, am a founding member of Voter Choice NJ and am currently one of the state co-chairs of the Green Party of New Jersey. I work with people every day, in many different capacities and can put aside partisan party politics to forge a path ahead together. I’m not someone that is just going to fall in line. I stand up, speak up, make objective decisions and am a listener.
I have a full fledged website, platform, and a social media presence and have made this fun for our supporters. Running as an Independent Green Party candidate means I’m not taking any corporate money and my ideals align with all. I have a lot of support from Republicans and Democrats. I have had numerous campaign endorsements by people putting aside parties, including BOE members, residents, activists and organizations. In local politics it’s about the person not the party. Please consider supporting and voting for us -- 6D for Craig!
What is your overall vision for the borough of Hawthorne and how do you wish to implement that vision if you win?
CAYETANO - I envision a Hawthorne in which we unite as a community and welcome all who come to reside here. A thriving neighborhood with a robust small business based local economy. A town that offers a different feel than those around us with more arts and creativity. Even more green spaces, improving our infrastructure and working to preserve the environment for the future we deserve. I’ve been advocating for everyone to complete the census this year and I’m sure once we see that data, our population will grow and trend younger. We have to realize this and embrace different cultures and races. I’ve advocated for another flag pole so that we can hold dedications for other ethnicities and fly the progress pride flag.
I want to see us utilize the bandshell even more for events that focus on this as well. We could host a Passaic County Pride Festival at our borough bandshell. This would be a monumental step for our town and the county!
We had an amazing Solidarity March for BLM this summer that woke up the town and put us on the map. Many towns were amazed by the response and turnout we had. I’m very grateful for and respectful of our police, but we still need body cams and to discuss a few other items presented in the Call To Action we issued then. I can sit down and as an independent voice be the bridge between the arms of government, the police and our residents. There is no harm in a new direction when it comes to these issues. These are some of the advantages and strengths I bring to this council seat.
What do you think are three (3) specific matters that need addressing going forward with respect to Ward 3 concerns and how would you do so?
CAYETANO - Five Corners - Interest in the property is starting to pick up with new developers or potential new owners. I’ve publicly stated I would not support any commercial or retail space here. I’ve proposed that we work with the county and state to have them procure the land to turn this space into a Visitors Welcome Center. Goffle Brook Park does not have adequate parking on that end of town and the existing structure can be utilized as a space for the County Parks and Recreation Department. They can repurpose the canopy of the gas station and put solar panels on it.Install electric vehicle charging stations underneath for guests to use. The solar panels would power the stations and the main structure. There is the ability to fit approximately 15 cars for parking on the property. This will solve the issues of parking and easy access to that end of the county park. My approach will finally end the ongoing controversy at the space. The residents in the surrounding area, including myself, would welcome it only being used from dawn until dusk. There will no longer be a debate about another gas station, convenience or retail store bogging down that corner. The intersection is very tricky and any retail store would add an influx of traffic which potentially leads to accidents and congestion. I think this is the perfect solution and I would work towards coordinating efforts with the county and state. Here are photos of what it could look like on my campaign website: https://www.cayetano4council.com/future_focus_sustainability
Speeding and Safety - The last few years I have spoken up and made public comments at town council meetings about the need to implement more safety measures. Pedestrians, bicyclists and joggers need to feel safe on Rea Ave Ext., Goffle Rd., Goffle Hill Rd. and Lafayette Ave. Ext. While some recent stop signs and flashing crossing signals installed are nice, more needs to be done. I propose to reduce the speed limit on county roads, more police patrols up through the ward at night and installing speed plates. If North Haledon can be successful in reducing the speed limit on their county roads so can we. We need to have more patrols up these arteries of the ward. Every night there are vehicles that race outside my house up and down the hill and it's only a matter of time before an accident occurs. Speed plates installed at some of the cross streets will help reduce the amount of vehicles cutting through to save time avoiding traffic lights. I will gladly work with our county on these efforts.
Bike Pathways - Another important need is proper bike pathways to the center of town. If we installed bike corrals near major sections of the ward in downtown we could decrease the need for driving into the business district. You could bike to Sprinkles, Mr. Cupcakes, Stewarts, Olssons and other businesses. My idea is a more expansive bike pathway to connect Ward 3 with the whole town, schools, municipal pool and train station. If needed we can secure grants from the state and schedule a traffic study. I’ve laid out a tentative plan and bike pathway on my website as well.
What do you think are three (3) specific matters that should be addressed which affect the town as a whole and how would you do so?
CAYETANO - Pan Chemical - A future focused plan to remediate and utilize the space on the demolished property. I’ve laid out a plan that might take years but we would work with the county, state and NJ transit to build a proper parking garage, offer bike corrals, electric vehicle charging stations and a state of the art train station with proper shelter and bus stop added. A suitably constructed parking garage will afford our residents proper parking and utilize our train line more. It will also free up parking on Washington Ave for the residents there and on Grand Ave for businesses. This will help increase ticket sales out of our location which could lead to better train and bus services for our residents. I would work to bridge the negotiations on this important project.
Sustainable Future - Part of bringing our town into the 21st century would include installing electric vehicle charging stations which would benefit our business district, installing solar on the borough hall and municipal pool to power those structures and the bandshell. Start to install solar powered trash and recycling bins across town. We would analyze and work towards migrating our town’s power to sources that are renewable. We would evaluate a plan to migrate some of our municipal vehicle fleet towards electrics like other towns across the country. There are grants available to help offset the cost of some of these initiatives while the rest would eventually end up saving us money within a few years. You need someone like myself who works with the Environmental Commission and Green Team to help lead the charge and educate the rest of the town on the overall benefits. This is mentioned in my platform here: https://www.cayetano4council.com/ecological_wisdom
Business & Artistic Focus - We need to attract even more small businesses. I do not support big box chains and want more diverse culinary food choices and a small grocery store. I’ve called on us to embrace a younger, more artistic vibe like Boonton or Somerville with a nice downtown layout like Maywood. I don’t want us to be another Ridgewood or Glen Rock but align with the arts segment of our community. Recent successes like the revamped Rea House, Art In The Park, businesses like Rebel Child Designs and with Color and Whim opening here soon, it is clear that now is the time.
It would be great to have a restaurant row on Diamond Bridge and expand outdoor seating in the future there. It would need to be discussed and have input from the local businesses. I would want better seating, tenting, lighting and a stage to draw out performers would make the space like the pedestrian plaza in Jersey City or recently created in Montclair. We would need to explore adding a dedicated 15 minute parking for our businesses.
I would love to see us work to fill existing structures before exploring building more. I don’t support any more eyesore looking storage units which bring down homeowners property values, gas stations or convenience stores. I do hope that the new one slated for 204 Wagaraw will be designed to look like the townhomes set for that property. Westwood recently forced the developer there to do that when they installed a structure there which helps it blend in. You need someone to do outreach to the small businesses with connections throughout the state to lead these efforts. I mention this in my platform here: https://www.cayetano4council.com/community_based_economics
These are just some of the skills and benefits I bring to council. Please check out our website and social media for more. You can also call 973-433-6696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.