Meet West Milford’s four township council candidates

WEST MILFORD. Early voting runs from October 29 through November 6, with election day on November 8.

| 31 Oct 2022 | 04:31

The West Milford Township Council has four people running for two open seats this election. Kevin Goodsir and Matthew Conlon are running on the Republican party line and Melissa Brown Blaeuer and Karen Phelan are running on the Democrat party line.

Karen Phelan

While I’m the type of person who prefers to lead from behind, I’ve decided to step up and run for town council because the residents of West Milford deserve to have a choice of candidates, deserve to have a variety of perspectives in our government, and deserve to have leaders with a vision of what West Milford could be.

Like many people here, I love this town because of its small-town feel, friendly residents, and beautiful lakes and woods. I’m tired of hearing how the Highlands Act is a problem that needs to be eliminated, when I see it as an opportunity. My vision for West Milford, which builds on the visions of others, is to connect our hiking and biking trails to create long, contiguous trails, construct new trails that connect to our town center so trail users can visit our shops, and build a park and pathway along Belcher’s Creek to link businesses on Greenwood Lake Turnpike to those on Union Valley Road. If we can bring more tourists into our town, our restaurants, bars, and stores have a better chance of succeeding, and we have a better chance of attracting new businesses. This development plan aligns with the Highlands Act, preserves our natural resources, and will revitalize our economy.

This may sound like an impossible dream, but, fortunately, I have spent three decades of my career enacting big visions for big companies, as a management consultant for Deloitte & Cap Gemini and in several management positions at Pfizer and J&J. My business transformation skills consist of bringing people together to create a common mission, developing viable plans for enacting the vision, and then getting it done. I’d like to use these change skills to build a better life for the residents of West Milford.

Kevin Goodsir

I am a lifelong West Milford resident who lives in and owns the house I grew up in. I am a committed 25-year union carpenter (Local 253) and a Highlander who takes pride in actively volunteering my time to help others. I stand ready to bring my blue-collar work ethic and love of both people and community to continue serving you as your councilman.

As your council president, I have worked with my council colleagues to deliver the residents of West Milford zero tax increases to the township’s municipal budget during my three years on the council. My resolve, practicality, and level-headedness make me the ideal leader for those who lead our community.

It is my absolute pleasure to serve our community through volunteer work. I was instrumental in founding the West Milford Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), I worked to successfully bring back the annual West Milford Youth Trout Derby, opened the Chuck Enering Soup Kitchen, am a proud Elk, and started and sponsored the West Milford Veterans banner program honoring West Milford’s bravest. I am so grateful to have worked alongside so many other incredible community volunteers to make these things possible.

Outside of West Milford, I volunteer my free time to further serve the people of the great state of New Jersey. I was Local 253’s Citizen Carpenter of the Year in 2016 and I am also responsible for the annual Newark Boys & Girls Club Toy Drive.

I am a husband, a father, a public servant and a hard-working, blue-collar American. Along with my running mate for town council, Matthew Conlon, I stand ready to focus on local issues and continue to move West Milford forward as a stronger and better community.

Matthew Conlon

I am a lifelong resident of West Milford Township and longtime leader in the Republican Party at the local, county, and state level. I am a proud 2010 graduate of West Milford High School and 2018 graduate of The University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in administrative leadership. My service to West Milford dates back more than a decade where I served, or am currently serving, in numerous organizations including the township’s Board of Education, zoning and planning boards, and recreation and insurance advisory committees, as well as vice chairman of the Wanaque Valley Regional Sewerage Authority.

Professionally, I serve as chief of staff to State Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney (R-40) and as confidential aide to Passaic County Commissioner Nicolino Gallo (R-Totowa). Additionally, I am a local real estate agent, parishioner at Queen of Peace, umpire director for West Milford Little League, and proud Elk. I serve my party as Passaic County’s Republican state committeeman and GOP secretary, as well as state chairman of the Young Republican Federation of New Jersey.

I care deeply about the residents of West Milford Township. My tireless work ethic and willingness to collaborate with others is exactly what West Milford needs to continue to grow and flourish, responsibly. I have a keen sense for politics and certainly understand public service. I know that our township council solely serves our township and needs to be focused on local issues that are near-and-dear to the daily lives of every Highlander.

Alongside my running mate, Council President Kevin Goodsir, I promise to bring my energy, public service experience, and depth of knowledge of every level of government to serve you best on the township council.

Melissa Brown Blaeuer

I am a dedicated community volunteer with almost 40 years’ experience in management, problem solving, digital design and web development. I ran for council in 2014 and 2015, and in 2021 for NJ State Assembly. I gained real political insight talking to voters, candidates, electeds, strategists, issues advocates and union leaders in West Milford and 12 other towns.

I’m fun-loving, friendly, creative and empathic, grounded in holistic spiritual and creative practice. If elected, I would promote our pledge of liberty and justice for all and restore much-lacking checks and balances.

I served on the Community Services and Recreation Advisory Committee, Beautification and Recycling Committee and the Municipal Utilities Authority. I promoted peaceful coexistence with wildlife in the BEAR Group. On the Resource Development Committee, I worked on the Autumn Lights Festival and a tourism brochure.

I am in my seventh year on the Economic Development Commission. I developed business award certificates and ideas for tourism, researched grants, produced resources for new businesses, and found ways to get them online.

Karen Phelan, and I are endorsed by The League of Conservation Voters. We’re environmentalists, business leaders and moms who stand for equality as co-leaders of the West Milford Democrats.

Let’s fix politics and reinstate accountability and fair representation with a nonpartisan, ward-based government.

I will promote higher quality of life and property values with green infrastructure and ecotourism, including recreation along Belchers Creek and trails connected to our commercial centers.

I will help cut bureaucracy and spark entrepreneurism such as outdoor guides-for-hire and help businesses get online.

I advocate for bottom-up economics and the freedom, talent, dreams and hard work of real people.

I will work to stabilize taxes and energy independence with shared services, fixed-cost community solar and renewable infrastructure.

We can dream it. We can do it!