Citizens of New Providence
This year the Republican candidates for the NP Borough Council are running unopposed. This creates a problem. That being, the candidates have no obligation to express their views.
New Providence has been under one party rule for over 50 years. One party rule is not healthy for any level of government. It reduces transparency, accountability, constructive dialogue and citizen participation. One party rule also increases the likelihood of corruption, dismissal of alternate views, increased defensiveness and a sense of invincibility.
A democracy is the most difficult form of government to function effectively. This is because a democracy requires participation by the governed. Ideally, the participants should be well informed and armed with the truth. In a single party ruled government the need to have the governed participate is diminished. That is because the government does not feel a need to solicit participation or respond. Without an informed opposition those in control simply are not required to do the research and leg work necessary to make decisions which are most beneficial to all of the governed.
The party in control does not matter. There are plenty of towns, and counties, in NJ controlled by Democrats that would benefit from well informed dissent.
What does this mean for New Providence? It means we have a government decision making process which includes very little participation by the governed.
I have attended nearly every Borough Council meeting over the last 18 months. Most meetings are attended by hardly any members of the community. Occasionally, there is an issue like affordable housing, or race relations that bring out more participants. Those situations are rare.
I ask you to think about yourselves. Have you ever felt motivated to attend a Council meeting? Do you feel your voice on an issue would matter in the outcome? Have you ever inquired about what did the Council accomplish over the last month or year? Do you know who all of the Council members are? Do you know who our Borough Administrator is?
Besides the above, what other evidence is there that our government in NP does not encourage participation.
A quick look at the NP web site and other documents reveals the following:
- Some resources and information are out dated by years.
- You will not be able to locate any topics an advisory committee has discussed or is considering.
- Minutes of Council meetings are usually available months after a meeting.
- Meeting agendas are not available until the 48 hour legally required publication time.
- Meeting announcements are located on the town web page and sent to the Courier News (which says they serve Somerset and Middlesex Counties) and the Star Ledger. Those announcements are not even required to be published.
- Most of the money for the 2019 Council campaigns for both parties came from outside New Providence.
- And many more examples, but you get the idea.
As I mentioned, I have attended nearly every Council meeting over the last 18 months. I have often been frustrated by the lack of discussion, the absence of community participation. The ignoring of suggestions or dissent when expressed, and the dismissal of input submitted through correspondence.
I’m asking you to send a message to our government leaders in New Providence.
Take your mail in ballot and write in Allen Swanson for Borough Council.
I have been and will continue to be a voice for the environment, social justice, transparency in government, decreased outside influence in campaigns, and the Truth.
Finally, I am asking you to think about the issues which are important to you. Vote for Allen Swanson: If you believe discussion and actions affecting our environment in New Providence and our region are important. If you feel discussion and actions affecting race relations in New Providence and our nation are important. If you feel power brokers outside New Providence have no business funding and influencing our town. If you want to see the airing of more divergent opinions. If you want to have your voice heard.
In short, if you want the Council to know you are here, you care and you want to see a more transparent, pro-active and accountable government, TAKE ACTION.
Write in. Allen Swanson for Borough Council