Democrat Jonathan Nelson, who is running to fill the one-year unexpired term Township Council seat, knows he is the underdog in this race. He's a Democrat, the Republican Party has a firm, exclusive grip on every elected position in town that it intends to keep, and he's running against an opponent backed by GOP Mayor James Barberio.
Nelson told Patch that he is determined to win to give representation to all Parsippany residents, even those who at present have no voice in their government. And not even a superstorm will deter him, he said.
"For the past three days we have sent out nearly 100 volunteers to inform people whose polling districts had changed due to Sandy," he said. "We are still canvassing homes and apartments and will continue to do so until the polls close Tuesday evening."
Nelson, 44, a graduated of the University of Maryland, College Park, has lived in the township for most of his life and spent decades as a successful owner of two restaurants. He now is president and creative director for a local marketing and graphic design firm. He has served the community as a mentor for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Alliance for Lupus Research.
"My decades of experience in the private sector have taught me how to do more with less," he said. "The residents of Parsippany need a councilman who will ask the hard questions and not be just a rubber stamp for the administration. For the past year I have attended every council meeting and I am well aware of the issues facing our township. Too many times I have seen the council fail to provide a real check on the administration."
Nelson has earned endorsements from diverse places, among them state Sen. and former Gov. Richard Codey, former Mayor Marceil "Mimi" Letts and Republican local citizen-activist Roy Messmer.
Issues he cites as most important include reducing water and sewer rates and working to have the $7 million surplus sitting in sewer reserves returned to taxpayers; holding the line on new taxes and ensuring fiscal responsibility; pushing for a better maintained infrastructure, and ending what he called "the stranglehold of one-party rule."
He said that his decades of experience as a business owner make him uniquely qualified to ask the right questions when budget time comes.
"I plan to root out government waste using a common sense approach," he said.
He also said he wants to make economic development a reality in Parsippany, pointing to the loss of massive rateables such as Realogy and DRS Technologies.
"Many people do not realize that businesses are taxed differently than
homeowners," said Nelson. "Each time a business leaves Parsippany or when an office building becomes vacant, homeowners are left to pick up the bill. Town
Hall must partner with realtors, property owners and businesses small and large. When corporations start believing in Parsippany again, they will return. And when this does happen, home values will increase and taxes will go down."
Asked how he would have voted on the controversial police appointments pushed through by the mayor, Nelson praised new Capt. Jeffrey Storms.
"There is no question that Capt. Storms is an asset to Parsippany and is more than capable of being a Captain," he said. However, our current police force is excessively top heavy with superior officers and I believe we need more officers on the street patrolling."
And while he said he believes that residential stacking cannot be tolerated in the township, he said he will stand for apartment-dwellng families with young children being targeted by the town's Housing Division under its supervisor, Rena Plaxe.
"Young families having babies are not stacking," he said. "All the council needs to do is add one sentence to our current ordinance; children under two years of age should be exempted from the current occupancy law.
"My hope is that when the residents of Parsippany are about to cast their ballot they know that as councilman I will fight tooth and nail to do what is right for Parsippany; party affiliation is irrelevant.
"It's time for us all to take Parsippany back."