Wednesday, May 22, 2024
HomeCandidatesJustin Musella – Candidate for Township Council

Justin Musella – Candidate for Township Council

Debate Questions for Council Candidates:

  1. Pride in Parsippany is an important part of why many choose our Township as their home. Why did you decide to settle in Parsippany, and what makes you proud to be a resident?

When searching for a new home in this area, I loved the unique character of this township. With an incredible business community, unparalleled school system, and a sense of neighborhood character that is welcoming to all —I thought this would be a perfect place to settle with my girlfriend, Courtney, and maybe raise a family down the road. Like many residents, it’s not hard to be proud of Parsippany, there’s just so much to love.

  1. Tell us about your family life and what living in Parsippany means to you.

Courtney and I have been together for two loving years, in which we have moved in together in order to begin the next stage of our lives. My parents, Angela and Joe always raised me to find a positive view of things, and even with this mindset, I am so happy to call Parsippany my home. Parsippany is a place for personal growth, an opportunity to give back to the community, and a place where one can live a fulfilling and productive life happily.

  1. What is your primary motivation to serve the residents of Parsippany as a Councilmember?

As we settled into our new home, we were taken aback at how often neighbors voiced their concerns about our local government, repeatedly talking about issues with the new administration. Curious, I decided to speak to more residents and see if these issues were affecting other people around town. Time after time, the same concerns kept coming up – the unacceptable 40% water rate increase, the decline in our quality of life, and the uncontrolled overdevelopment wreaking havoc in our communities. Stories of the current administration ignoring the input of residents and in some cases, the Mayor belittling them at Council meetings, sadden me greatly. In this, I find my greatest motivation to run. When elected officials behave this way, it’s paramount that residents have a representative that will give them a voice, and that is exactly what I will do.

  1. What qualities and platform positions set you apart from your opponents?

I have had a productive career in the private sector since I was old enough to work, with a productive and rewarding career to show for it. Bringing my business insight to the Council will give a much-needed perspective to our local government, especially during the budget process. Also, as a renter and millennial, I would be the first Councilmember to represent those growing populations in our town. Given that 55% of our population is under 44 years of age and 37% are renters, I feel that giving them a voice is critical to ensuring full representation.

  1. The Township Council has an important role in acting as a check on the executive branch, how would you continue to ensure proper governance in your role as a Councilmember and prevent executive overreach?

Historically, the Township Council has done much to prevent the mayor from inappropriately acting beyond his power. I would continue this practice, ensuring proper governance at the local level and preventing any decisions that would ultimately harm our residents. Residents would be free to voice their concerns and thoughts about important issues affecting the town, with their input ultimately having an impact on the final decision. For too long, major decisions have been made without this important stakeholder having any input, and that will end if I am elected.

  1. As a Councilmember, how would you ensure that the financial position of the Township improves and what would you do to keep residential tax rates reasonable?

We’ve all seen the headlines about massive overspending on legal services or the proliferation of political hires in cushy civil service jobs, these practices need to stop, period. Without a serious look on how and where the Township is spending its money, no progress can be made on reducing our structural deficit. My priority will be to work with the Administration in finding ways that we can improve the efficiency of our services, while also reducing expenditures. I would also make sure that the Township no longer relies on the siphoning of utility revenues to balance the budget as this practice hides the total cost of government and prevents serious efforts to keep taxes low.

  1. Recently, a disagreement between the bipartisan Township Council and the current administration on a proposed $5M bond to balance the budget has been made public. Where do you stand on using bonds to balance the budget and how would you vote on this proposal with current information made to the public?

In the accounting world, creative accounting ultimately ends in tears. Borrowing and representing this as revenue is not a generally accepted accounting practice and is not recognized by the state as per the municipal budget guidelines. It is important that the township begin to reduce expenditures and find new sources of revenue to fill the gaps left by COVID and three years of serious financial mismanagement. I would vote no on the bond as proposed unless the administration can provide more information on why it’s necessary and how they propose to start paring down the structural deficit.

  1. Since 2018, the Township Council has become a legislative chamber where respect between members is encouraged regardless of party affiliation or political position. How will you continue to contribute to this positive atmosphere and assure that this continues?

Respect should be a given, whether you’re a resident or an elected official. Without it, our democracy ceases to function, an issue that plagues municipalities like ours across the state. I believe in consensus building and cooperation between members of the Council in order to rebuild our Township so that it works for all residents. As an elected member of the Council, I will listen to the concerns of other members, while also making sure that the priorities of residents are heard and acted on. Once the Council starts working together again, we will be one step closer to finding ways to fix our dysfunctional local government.

  1. Do you believe the Township Council should take an expanded role in engaging Town Hall on behalf of residents and advocating for their concerns? Would you support office hours during the week for Council members to meet with residents and address their concerns? Specifically, address poor follow-up by the Township in relation to constituency services.

In the private sector, poor follow-up can often damage the reputation and standing of a business, leading it to fail. Sadly, for many residents, our current Administration has been operating without this fear, leading to calls unanswered and residents desperate for assistance. Major changes need to be made to the Mayor’s Action Center, with more accountability and heightened transparency to assure adequate performance. To support residents further, I would also recommend and participate in office hours during the week for Councilmembers. This would give residents another avenue to request assistance, especially if they cannot get anywhere with the Mayor’s Action Center.

  1. Tell us about your work experience and how it will assist you in being a member of the Township Council in Parsippany.

In my field of work, a core part of my office day is bringing people together with different skill sets and opinions. Finding a consensus is not always easy, but with a diversity of opinion and dedicated individuals, productive decisions can often result in the right leadership. While in the past the Township Council has been a battleground for much disagreement and discussion, recently the atmosphere has changed in a more positive way. I would like to continue this and find constructive ways to improve the lives of our residents instead of petty infighting.

  1. There are five candidates running for the two available council seats.  What sets you apart from the other candidates and why should Republican voters support you on June 8?

While there is no doubt that the candidates running against Gary Martin and I are decent, honorable people, we are the only ones with the vision to transform our local government for the benefit of all residents. With Gary Martin as my running mate and Lou Valori running for Mayor, our team has a wide array of experience that can be used to ensure services run smoother, make employees more productive, and residents feeling that sense of pride in their government return. With your support we can begin the process of “Cleaning up Parsippany” but this time, for real.

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Focus contributor
Focus contributor
Parsippany Focus welcomes residents to submit articles for publication. Please note that the opinions and views expressed in these articles may not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.
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