Alexandra on the Issues
(Select One or Scroll to Read Them All)
Stop hiking taxes and fees
Being responsible with our tax dollars needs to be job number one for our local government. Now that Washington has sharply reduced our local property tax deduction, it’s more critical than ever that we control our spending.
The Ridgewood Council has raised our local taxes by the maximum allowed in New Jersey, after years of no or lower tax increases. They have raised the cost of commuter parking permits by over 33% and have issued leaf tickets all over town (after not picking up our leaves on time!). And the Mayor and Deputy Mayor have supported a number of irresponsible spending decisions, including approving spending $1.6 million to purchase and convert prime real estate for unnecessary office space and wasting $23,000 on a failed valet parking experiment.
To make sure we get the most of out of our tax dollars, I will work to eliminate wasteful spending and streamline government services, including by exploring sharing services with neighboring towns and Bergen County. I also support the immediate reinstatement of Ridgewood’s Financial Advisory Committee, so that the Council gets sound financial advice from experts in our community.
Improve Quality of life services
Ridgewood is a world-class village, and we expect top-rate services. Our leaves should be collected on time. Branches that have been downed in storms should be picked up promptly. The potholes in our streets need to be fixed. For the amount of taxes we are paying in Ridgewood, these are basics we deserve.
Equality and Inclusivity
Diversity is part of what makes Ridgewood a great place to live, work, and raise a family. People of all backgrounds strengthen the fabric of our community. As a civil rights attorney, I work to make sure our Village Council leads on issues of diversity and inclusion.
I strongly support flying the gay pride flag at Village Hall, something that Mayor Knudsen and Deputy Mayor Sedon refused to do. Additionally, on the Village Council, I will support a more inclusive Ridgewood by closely collaborating with and working to strengthen our Community Relations Advisory Board, which promotes diversity and opposes bias in our community. Additionally, as a member of the Ridgewood Council, I will support robust diversity training for all municipal employees, to ensure that our local government respects and values every Ridgewood resident.
Many of us move to, and stay in, Ridgewood because we have a wonderful downtown. More needs to be done to keep our Central Business District vibrant and viable. Ridgewood has developed a reputation for being tough for business, and there are an alarming number of empty storefronts in Ridgewood.
We need to take proactive steps to revitalize our downtown. While e-commerce poses a threat to brick-and-mortar stores, there are many businesses that can succeed, like those that provide unique in-person experiences (like portrait studios, martial arts programs, dance classes, restaurants, and more). We need to update Ridgewood ordinances to make sure that our downtown is zoned for these types of businesses that can thrive in Ridgewood. Additionally, Village Hall is notorious for the hoops they make businesses jump through before they can come to Ridgewood; we need to cut through the red tape so we can get businesses into Ridgewood faster. Finally, one of the key reasons businesses are reluctant to come to Ridgewood has to do with our parking shortage. More on that below.
Nepotism and Conflicts of Interest
I believe that transparency sits at the heart of good government. Ridgewood residents should have a clear picture of what is behind the decisions elected officials make before they make them. Concerns about nepotism in Ridgewood government have brought negative publicity to our community.
As a member of the Ridgewood Council, I'll work to pass strong nepotism and conflict of interest ordinances. To avoid any favoritism in hiring, we should have a straight-forward anti-nepotism ordinance that prevents the family members of elected officials from being hired for positions in Ridgewood. Many surrounding towns already have these types of anti-nepotism ordinances in place. Further, the ordinance should prevent elected officials from taking part in decisions concerning departments that already employ their relatives. I also propose passing an ordinance that would require Village Council members to publicly disclose any potential conflict of interest and then recuse themselves from voting on matters where they are conflicted.
Getting Serious About Parking
I love our downtown. It’s a big reason why my husband and I chose to move to Ridgewood. But it’s hard for Ridgewood residents to enjoy our Central Business District because it’s so difficult to find parking downtown. Many Ridgewood residents simply give up on shopping or dining in Ridgewood because searching for parking takes too long and is too aggravating.
Over the past several years, no meaningful progress has been made to address Ridgewood’s parking shortage. The number of spots available for commuters near the Ridgewood train station has been reduced. Meanwhile, the Ridgewood Council has solicited bids for a parking garage that would be extremely costly. Small adjustments to the design could make the parking garage more cost-effective and increase the number of parking spots available – without raising the height of the garage.
But addressing our parking problems is not just about a garage. We need to actively explore other options that would reduce our parking shortage, such as offering offsite parking for Central Business District employees to free up more parking downtown for Ridgewood residents and customers.
Supporting Ridgewood Seniors
Many of Ridgewood’s most engaged, committed citizens are empty nesters and other seniors. We want and need them here. It is unacceptable for seniors who have lived in Ridgewood for decades to find themselves priced out of housing, feel unsafe using our streets, lack needed services like transportation, and feel neglected by our leadership.
I will be a voice for Ridgewood seniors and work to further implement the recommendations of the wonderful Age Friendly Ridgewood initiative. I will work to invest in our underfunded community center, promote recreational programs that are focused on seniors, and support further adjustments to our sidewalks, curbs, and signals to promote pedestrian safety. Importantly, I will prioritize controlling taxes, which especially burden seniors on fixed incomes. Finally, as Ridgewood begins a review of our Master Plan, I will make housing options for seniors a priority.
Commuters make up a huge part of the Ridgewood community. Over 1,700 people ride the train from Ridgewood on a typical weekday. And I’m one of them: I work in New York City and commute on the train. So I know that Ridgewood is not doing enough to support commuters. The number of commuter parking spots near the train station has decreased markedly. At the same time, the Ridgewood Council has increased the cost for resident parking permits by a whopping 33% in just one year.
I will be a strong advocate for Ridgewood commuters. On the Ridgewood Council, I will work to stop hiking the cost of parking permits and open up more parking spots near the train station for Ridgewood commuters. Additionally, I will advocate for the needs of Ridgewood commuters with federal and state agencies and representatives.
As a lawyer, I stand up to big corporations every day. I don’t have any relationship with or loyalties to developers. With four developments already planned, my position is that downtown Ridgewood does not need any more multi-family housing developments.
As these building projects move into the construction phase, the Central Business District will see a large amount of construction. We must be proactive to minimize disruption. We should stagger construction schedules between sites, ensure that construction vehicles enter high-traffic areas only during off-peak hours, and make developers pay for extra police to manage the traffic flow and ensure pedestrian safety. On the Village Council, I will work actively with the police department, businesses, and the community to address concerns about traffic routing and road and sidewalk closures.
My family and I live very close to the Valley Hospital campus – so close that after my younger daughter, Franny, was born there, we walked home. I am glad that the contentious litigation with Valley Hospital has been settled with Valley moving its acute care operations from its Ridgewood campus to Paramus.
As a member of the Ridgewood Council, I will work to update our Master Plan to ensure that the overall height and footprint of Valley’s buildings will remain the same and to limit the services that can be performed on the Valley campus. Permitted services will include nutrition programs, diagnostic imaging, and laboratory services, but substance abuse services and inpatient psychiatric treatment will not be permitted on the Ridgewood campus. Additionally, as the Valley campus transitions away from acute care, I will work proactively to manage any additional traffic associated with outpatient services.