Support for Alexandra Harwin

Loretta Weinberg,
NJ State Senate Majority Leader

"Now, more than ever, we need to elect strong, progressive women, and it is in that spirit that I hope Alexandra Harwin gets elected to the Ridgewood Council. She’s smart. She’s thoughtful. And she would bring to Village Hall a welcome mix of energy, passion and integrity. Ridgewood is lucky to have Ali Harwin. I hope you vote for her on Tuesday, May 8."

Garden State Equality.jpg

Alexandra Harwin is one of just six candidates in the State of New Jersey who were endorsed by Garden State Equality for the May 8 election.  In making the endorsement, Garden State Equality said: "Each of these [endorsed] candidates has a clear and defined history of working with and supporting issues of importance to the LGBT community, according to the organization. Whether it be marriage equality, anti-bullying laws, flying the pride flag, or engaging in proactive discussions on how to best achieve true equality and fairness for the LGBT community, these [endorsed] individuals have shown they are committed to the cause of LGBT rights."

Paul Vagianos, President,
Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce 

As a small-business owner, 22-year Ridgewood resident, and President of the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce, I believe that we need a member of the Village Council who has the skills, work ethic, and vision to address the challenges Ridgewood faces.  Alexandra Harwin is that person. 

On May 8th, Ridgewood voters have the rare opportunity to raise the bar for leadership in our Village.  Alexandra is a rising star in our community.  She is an active and creative mom to two young children.  Alexandra is an accomplished civil rights attorney with degrees from Harvard and Yale, and, as I like to point out, she graduated first in her class from Harvard.

As in every community, we have always had differences of opinion here in Ridgewood.  Not too long ago, we discussed them passionately but respectfully. Today issues divide us in a way that pits neighbor against neighbor.  This is hurting our community and saddens me to no end.

Our community is defined by the leadership we select, at the local level and beyond.  Great leadership is an undervalued quality that paves the road we travel in search of solutions.  Alexandra Harwin is a leader who can unite us as we confront Ridgewood’s pressing issues.  She works to resolve deep-seated conflicts affecting people’s lives every day.  She is collaborative, thoughtful, and pragmatic.   Alexandra doesn’t start fights, she ends them.

I believe Alexandra Harwin is the right candidate for the job and the leader Ridgewood needs today.  I hope you will join me in supporting her at the polls on May 8th. 

Jeff Voigt,
Ridgewood Councilman

As a sitting Councilman, I value integrity, independence of thought, a critical analysis of issues, and a willingness to listen and consider other points of view. This is why I am supporting both Janice Willett and Alexandra (Ali) Harwin.

I got to know Janice when she was vice chair of the Financial Advisory Committee and was impressed with her ability to distill complex financial issues down to their essence and assess their effect on our Village. Additionally, as someone who ran against her in 2016, I was impressed with how she ran her campaign — focusing on the issues and their ramifications. We can disagree with each other but I know that we will respect each other’s opinion and work towards finding common ground and ultimately doing what is right for the Village. Janice has a great background — from an early career in finance to her significant volunteerism in our community (Paterson Habitat for Humanity, Conservancy for Ridgewood Public Lands, raising money for college scholarships with College Club, choir and Finance Council at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, just to name a few). Her professional background will serve us well in addressing some of the more daunting financial issues we face moving forward, including tax and infrastructure issues, and; her involvement in the community speaks highly of her desire to give back to a place she loves — Ridgewood.

I have met and talked with Ali several times and have walked away impressed with how thoughtful she is on the issues facing our Village. Ali also has a tremendous background both educationally — Harvard undergrad (graduating at the top of her class) and Yale Law School — and professionally as a civil rights lawyer. In addition to her educational and professional credentials, she brings compassion and a willingness to ensure that disenfranchised groups are heard. We need this — especially considering how polarizing and provincial our politics has become. Ali has an appropriate focus in her campaign — revitalizing our downtown, inclusion, taxes, and ensuring we receive good services for the taxes we pay. We are fortunate that someone of her caliber is interested in serving our Village.

I am highly confident that if both are elected, the discussions/debates we have at Council meetings will allow for better decision making, more transparency, and better outcomes for our Village. Differences of opinion, if heard, understood, and incorporated, make for better decisions. This is why we are such a great country — because of our differences. They have my vote.

Letters of support from ridgewood residents

I write in strongest support of Alexandra Harwin, candidate for Ridgewood Village Council. I met Ali at a meeting after the Parkland shootings and was immediately impressed by her intelligence, grasp of the complex issues at play, and integrity.

Alexandra Harwin is a civil rights attorney with a strong national reputation. Time and again, both in her career and as a Ridgewood resident, Ali has advocated for diversity and inclusiveness. Without hesitation or equivocation, she has stood up for the rights of all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, ethnicity, religion or disability. Like most of our country, Ridgewood's demographics are changing. Our leadership should embrace and celebrate this change.  

My family and I have lived in Ridgewood almost twenty years. I walk through the village and see more vacant storefronts than I've ever seen. The incumbents have had a majority on the council, but they don't seem able to effectively address the changing needs of our businesses or residents. Parking continues to be a challenge; zoning for new businesses is slow and archaic; our approach to most issues, among these, the Master Plan and the parking ramp, is reactive, not proactive. 

Our Council members must be nimble and savvy in addressing the challenges facing us. We need proven negotiators and people who can think ‘outside the box.’ I don't think the incumbents running for office have the skills that are needed to lead us into the future. I fear that without a change in leadership, our village is in danger of losing much of what makes it special. 

In all my years as a village resident, I don't recall an election as divisive and personal as this one. Perhaps this reflects the state of our national discourse or maybe it's because people feel our village is under attack. Whatever the reason, on Facebook pages and blogs, council meetings and campaign 'meet and greets,' the incumbents have run a campaign based on personal attacks, not issues or facts. This is regrettable. Ridgewood belongs to all of us, and when this election is over, there will be so much work to do. I fear that the incumbents' scorched-earth approach will make it difficult for them to build coalitions or govern effectively.

Alexandra Harwin is the face of our Village's future. She has the professionalism, intellect, and temperament to help guide us into this future. I support her enthusiastically.

— Suzanne Samuels

We are writing to support Alexandra Harwin for a seat on the Village Council. She will provide a much-needed fresh perspective. Her collaborative, respectful style will lead to identifying new and creative solutions to some of Ridgewood’s persistent issues.

At the Candidate Forum on Monday night, Alexandra gave well-considered and thoughtful comments about the state of the Village and where she hopes to make a difference. Her plans will maintain cherished traditions, while making improvements that will enhance the whole community – such as making the Central Business District more welcoming to new businesses.

We urge you to cast a vote for respectful, intelligent, and inclusive leadership by voting for Alexandra Harwin on May 8th.

— Linda & Andrew Keesing

I am writing in support of Alexandra Harwin's candidacy for Ridgewood Village council because I believe she will bring fresh ideas to a local government that is in desperate need of fresh thinking.

As 27-year residents of Ridgewood, my wife and I have enjoyed the benefits of a comfortable, upscale suburb. But we also have marveled at the persistent economic decay of the town center as local business after business has closed its doors and the village government has failed to do anything meaningful to address the situation. The quality of life remains good here, but primarily because the town offers affluent people who commute to New York City relatively good transportation options and a quiet, civilized place to raise a family, with a good school system.

Meantime, our local taxes continue to escalate, roads remain unrepaired for months, parking is inadequate and large swaths of downtown real estate remain derelict.

As an civil rights attorney who has studied at some of the very best institutions in the country, Alexandra would bring a badly needed perspective to village government. She has the unique blend of intellect, energy, social commitment and fiscal conservatism that would serve Ridgewood government well, and it's time we started electing candidates who offer those things.

— Michael Pollock

I wanted to write and express my enthusiasm and support for Alexandra Harwin who is running for Ridgewood Village Council. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Alexandra since moving to Ridgewood two years ago thanks to our children being of similar age and going to the same daycare. I believe she would be an excellent and refreshing addition to our village council.

Her experience as a seasoned civil rights attorney in the city as well as a dedicated mother of two means she understands and appreciates the challenges so many of us Ridgewood residents face as working parents. With two young girls who will grow up in Ridgewood, I know she will fight to ensure they receive the same idyllic childhood that so many Ridgewood residents enjoyed themselves and what draws people to our town.

As a relatively new resident to the town myself, I would love to see a new voice on our village council to champion the views I believe so many people in our town hold in common - there is very much a new generation in Ridgewood comprised of working mothers and fathers with young children. We are all working extremely hard to make sure our children have the very best, and Alexandra knows and understands what we want from our village. She will work tirelessly to make sure our downtown is vibrant and thriving, and the sense of community spirit continues to develop as new residents move in and join the Ridgewood community.

Alexandra’s accomplishments in both her personal and professional career speak to her character and I cannot think of someone who would be better suited and prepared to join Ridgewood Village Council and help our great village continue to prosper.

— Kate Shivnan

I am writing in support of Council candidates Janice Willett and Alexandra Harwin. I give credit to the incumbents for their accomplishments and community involvement, but I think it’s time for a change. I have been a Ridgewood resident for 49 years. I have been involved with many community activities including having served within our government. Over the years I have witnessed much rancor within and between our government bodies and the public. Sometimes it is helpful in understanding and in finding solutions; other times it’s a wasteful distraction.

At this time I think a major change in tone and openness is needed. And while there are always important current special interests to be served, more attention needs to be given to the broad scope of Ridgewood’s future. This is especially true regarding our central business district so as to, among other things, reverse its declining contribution to our tax base. Ridgewood’s cherished character will not flourish by trying to maintain the status quo.

Willett and Harwin themselves are quite different, each with skills and qualifications that are beyond reproach. Together, they bring an outstanding combination of community service, financial, legal, historical, and cultural understanding, along with a fresh visionary perspective. Most importantly, they listen carefully to diverse views and have a calm, analytical, thoughtful, independent, and pragmatic approach to problem solving and planning. I believe they can bring more inclusiveness and more forward thinking, positive leadership to our community. I encourage you to vote for Alexandra Harwin and Janice Willett on May 8.

— Doug Goodell

I urge Ridgewood voters to join me in supporting Alexandra Harwin for Village Council at the polls on May 8th. It's good for our Village and for democracy to have lively debates about issues and Alexandra has turned this election into a real contest. Alexandra has gone door to door in many neighborhoods and has attended numerous meet and greets. She has introduced residents to her vision for a revitalized Ridgewood that leads not only the region but the nation for its inspired and progressive leadership. Why not think big? Why not be a national model? With someone like Alexandra Harwin on Council, this is a reasonable goal. Alexandra has the experiences and personality that will bring people together and lead to a stronger community through more enlightened leadership. We're lucky to have this brave young woman running for our Village Council.

— Kristin Bluemel

I have been a resident of Ridgewood for 22 years and am privileged to be among the many residents of Ridgewood supporting Alexandra Harwin’s Village Council candidacy.

I have known Alexandra for 4 years, and am confident she is the best person for the job. My decision to support her is based both on her personal characteristics and her abundant leadership capabilities, including her intelligence, compassion, willingness to listen and fiscal management priorities.

Alexandra is organized and smart is an understatement, and to that you can add incredibly thorough. I believe her energy and enthusiasm for the community’s welfare will also energize the Council’s planning and decision-making. Her intelligence and style will broaden our discussions and enhance thoughtful deliberation.

Alexandra’s views about stabilizing property taxes, revitalizing our downtown, and eliminating nepotism are well-informed and need to be heard as Ridgewood moves ahead.  Especially in these times, I am also particularly interested in her commitment to civil discourse on these and other contentious topics among Council members and the community.  This commitment will go a long way toward changing the tenor of our meetings from that of a battleground to that of community servants dedicated to pursuing the common good.

I am confident Alexandra’s dedication to transparency, collaboration, family values and Ridgewood’s future will be an asset to the Council’s productivity and future impact.  She will serve our community well and bring us closer to living in a connected and supportive community – the reasons we likely all chose to live here to begin with.

I strongly encourage you to cast your vote for Alexandra Harwin on May 8.

— Jamie Moss

I am a third generation resident of Ridgewood. I was born and raised here, graduated from Ridgewood High School (‘91), and moved back here with my family over 12 years ago because of the love I have for this town. Ridgewood remains a wonderful town, but it has stagnated. Over the past several years, there has been a continued deadlock over the same issues that have lingered here for decades. I am supporting Alexandra Harwin and Janice Willett for Village Council because they will finally help move our town forward.

I have known both women for several years. I am proud to count both as friends, and I also have had the good fortune of working with both on numerous civic projects within our community. Both women are extremely bright – Ali holds her A.B. from Harvard College (where she graduated number one in her class) and J.D. from Yale Law School, and Janice holds her B.A from the University of Michigan and M.B.A. from the University of Rochester. Ali is one of the pre-eminent civil rights and employment lawyers in the United States, while Janice worked in corporate banking at JP Morgan Chase and later served on our town’s Financial Advisory Committee.

Ali and Janice are also good people, with high moral character, strong values and an unwavering sense of ethics. While Janice is a long-time resident of Ridgewood, Ali joined our community four years ago. On their own, each has skills and qualifications that are beyond reproach. Together, they create the perfect balance of tradition and progress.

Ali and Janice value opinions. They also appreciate that there sometimes comes a time when decisions need to be made based on facts in order to move forward. Our town is at an inflection point. With more and more storefronts sitting empty, property taxes continuing to rise (silently) as a result, and a lack of civility having become pervasive in our social discourse, our town needs a more inclusive, less dictatorial form of leadership. We need more focus from our leaders on making our town better, and less on serving the interests of a chosen few. We need forward thinking, positive leadership. Ali and Janice will provide just that and open the door to a brighter, better future for our community.

Ridgewood is a beautiful, diverse community that deserves only the best and brightest representation. Ali Harwin and Janice Willett are the perfect choices to tackle our issues and make us proud during the process. They represent the best of Ridgewood: smart, thoughtful, and independent thinkers who are ready to help move Ridgewood forward. I encourage all Ridgewood residents to vote for Ali Harwin and Janice Willett on May 8.

— Siobhan Crann Winograd

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa author of the famous novel The Leopard said "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." To those in Ridgewood who want to preserve the many great things we love about our Village, and who care about its future, we say: "To preserve, you have to renew."

The coming Village Council elections is a great opportunity for us who care about the many great things we love about Ridgewood and who are deeply concerned about the future of our town, to turn a new leaf by voting in two capable people with integrity who will help lead us confidently into the future.

These two people are Janice Willett and Alexandra Harwin.

— Rurik & Cynthia Halaby

I am writing to add my voice to those supporting Janice Willett and Ali Harwin on May 8. These two women are strong, smart and committed to doing the right thing for Ridgewood.

Willett and Harwin are ready to tackle the issues of today, namely high taxes and user fees, potholed streets, vacant stores and downtown parking problems. They also have the vision and common sense to protect our future by moving Ridgewood forward in a fiscally responsible way.

More generally, both candidates possess a refreshing sincerity and strong moral compass; two of the most important qualities for any elected official.

View their websites yourselves to see their unusually impressive backgrounds and their positions on our issues. Ridgewood really needs two new fresh and thoughtful leaders to balance the current council.

Join me in voting for Janice Willet and Ali Harwin.

— Gwenn Hauck, Former Ridgewood Councilmember

Alexandra Harwin and Janice Willett have experience, integrity and a passion to serve the Village of Ridgewood, and my vote.

For nearly 30 years I have worshipped and resided in Ridgewood. I am a founding member of the Ridgewood Ministerial Association, a longtime member and most recent-Co-Chair of the Community Relations Advisory Board (CRAB). I cofounded AIDS/HIV Interfaith of NJ and founded the Glen Rock – Ridgewood AIDS Ministry (GRAM). I have worked with Village Hall to coordinate services for our postal team following the horrific events at our post office, to organize World AIDS Day remembrances, hosting the Clothesline Project, to organize Vigil(s) in Van Neste Park following the Sept. 11, 2001 attack and the Pulse Club killings.

Alexandra Harwin and Janice Willett offer us an opportunity to put Ridgewood back on track as a community that is welcoming, safe and genuinely inclusive. They are accessible. They embrace diversity; they are committed to unifying our town.

Janice and Ali have been consistent supporters of events that draw us as a community together. They have been consistent supporters of events such as MLK Day, The Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, the Holocaust Commemoration – not because they were running for office or serving as a Council member, but simply because they are part of this community.

Ali Harwin, Esq., is a seasoned Human Rights Attorney. Janice Willet’s roots run deep in this community from her leadership at Somerville to her financial expertise on the (recently dismantled) Village Financial Advisory Board.

May 8, let’s vote for two smart, strong, independent women, Alexandra Harwin and Janice Willett.

— Jan Philips, Former Co-Chairperson, Community Relations Advisory Board of Ridgewood and Glen Rock