The Scotch Plains Neighborhood Alliance recently made a written inquiry to the 3 incumbents running for re-election to the Township Council via e-mail.  In an effort at full transparency, the incumbents’ responses are being published publicly here.  The Neighborhood Alliance asked 5 separate questions of the candidates.

Question 1. Please tell us a little about yourself, education, family and why you are running for public office.

Elizabeth Stamler: I am a lifelong resident of Scotch Plains, earned a Master’s Degree in Accounting from New Jersey City University (2016) and an undergraduate degree in Criminology from the College of New Jersey (2009). My family includes my partner, Seth; mother, Jeanne; and brother, John Dennis. I also have two dogs, Annie and Scout, and a foster dog or two from time to time.

I ran for Town Council in 2018 seeking to bring a fresh perspective on matters big and small.  I am proud of the accomplishments my colleagues and I have made, but seek more time to make more of a difference in our town, as we have an extensive agenda.

Roshan “Roc” White: I have lived in Scotch Plains for 20 years, completed a five-year apprenticeship program through the UA Plumbers Local Union 24 and graduated from the United Association Instructor Training Program through Michigan State University/Washtenaw Community College. I am married to Bonnie Mason-White, and have two children, Kobe and Kaci, both proud graduates of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. I am a veteran of the Gulf War, served our Country for six years in the United States Marine Corps, and earned the rank of Sergeant.

I ran for Town Council because I love my town and wanted to continue on a journey of public service.  I am a person of action.  Just let me know what needs to be done, and I will do whatever is within my power to get it accomplished.

We have a tremendous track record of success during our first term on the Township Council, accomplishing many capital improvements while still stabilizing the municipal tax rate.  There are many other initiatives underway that I would like to see through fruition.

Matt Adams: I lived in Scotch Plains during law school from 2005-2007 and came to love the town as the perfect place to raise a family. So, when I began a family of my own, I returned and have called Scotch Plains home since 2014.

I earned a JD from Seton Hall University (2007) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University (2004). I am married to Meredith; we have three boys, Michael (9), Andrew (8) and Nicholas (4).

Getting involved on the local level has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences of my life. My colleagues and I are really making a difference and improving Scotch Plains. I am hopeful that voters will recognize our many successes over the past few years and will reelect us to continue the progress.

Question 2.  What is your vision for the future of Scotch Plains, and what would be your top priorities over the next 5-10 years for the town? Such as downtown redevelopment, relocation of town hall and all emergency services, business zoning, cannabis, flooding, light industry zoning, traffic, schools, our children’s future, parks/recreation, services for seniors, individuals with disabilities?
Scotch Plains will have a more stable financial future, improved parks and recreational opportunities for residents of all ages and be safer because of the hard decisions and investments that we are making in our town today.

Regarding downtown redevelopment, we have adopted a Redevelopment Plan that has attracted 11 redevelopers that have shared their visions. Until now, no such process has occurred or came close.  This is a plan that will jumpstart the revitalization of downtown Scotch Plains.  The plan, with full public input, calls for fewer housing units and density than what was previously considered. To revitalize downtown Scotch Plains, emergency services may be relocated to Plainfield Avenue.  This proposal has been in the works for many years, long before any of us were elected, and we have improved on the original plan.

Four years ago, the town sought to relocate Town Hall and emergency services to the DPW yard on Plainfield Avenue and the adjacent conservation zone. We modified that plan to preserve the conservation zone as much as possible after listening to residents who participated in Downtown Redevelopment Committee meetings. Town Hall is now proposed to remain in our downtown area as part of a new library.

Keeping Town Hall in our downtown reduces the footprint of an emergency services facility on Plainfield Avenue and, thereby, makes it much less likely that the conservation area will be disturbed. If emergency services are relocated to Plainfield Avenue, emergency response time will improve as the Plainfield Avenue location is more centrally located than the current locations near Town Hall.

The township has modified zoning on Route 22 only to permit the lawful sale and manufacturing of cannabis to businesses licensed by the state, following the ballot referendum amending the New Jersey Constitution and legalizing cannabis in New Jersey in 2020.  The businesses are not permitted anywhere else in town; such businesses may exist on Route 22 only.

Over the past year, the township has authorized applications by entrepreneurs who control property on Route 22 and have provided business plans demonstrating the applicants’ commitment to follow the stringent rules and procedures set forth by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC).

Ultimately, we believe the CRC will grant state licenses only to the one or two strongest applications, and each of the applicants that have come before the Council have agreed.  

Moreover, if a state license is issued, the applicant will then have the additional burden to obtain a local license to operate in Scotch Plains.  This will require an applicant to demonstrate that their facility complies with all our local zoning requirements, such as whether they have adequate parking, signage, odor control, security plans, etc. We recognize that cannabis businesses are now part of the legal business marketplace and have been for some time. In fact, two applications were considered and unanimously supported by the former administration to operate medical dispensaries on Route 22. Further, we believe the town should support all small businesses, especially those with minority and female leadership.

We also believe it is our responsibility to seek opportunities that reduce the town’s reliance on residential taxpayers.  It is estimated that the township will recognize meaningful tax income if any such businesses are permitted to operate on Route 22. Finally, we believe that having one or two heavily regulated cannabis businesses on Route 22 are more advantageous than empty highway storefronts.

Flooding has been a problem in Scotch Plains for longer than anyone can recall.  After Hurricane Ida, when we helped flooded residents by connecting them with federal, state and county resources, fueled by volunteers from the town and greater community, we demanded that the township take additional measures to limit flooding.  We quickly learned, however, that the cooperation of many towns and several counties is needed to fix the underlying regional problems.  Moreover, the towns and counties cannot come close to affording the price tag of the necessary repairs without the cooperation of the county, state and federal governments working together on a cohesive solution.

The good news is things are finally happening.  For example, Congressman Tom Malinowski helped secure funds to complete the Green Brook Sub Basin Flood Control Project so that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may complete substantial work, and greatly limit flooding in town during extreme weather events.

At home, our Town Manager has worked extensively with our Department of Public Works to ensure that sewers and brooks and other areas are regularly and consistently cleared of debris, to seek grant opportunities for expensive remedial work and take other responsible measures, such as working closely with the County and neighboring towns to limit flooding as part of a broad-based strategy.

We have also charged the professional engineers and planners who work for Scotch Plains with answering “what else could Scotch Plains do to protect existing residents from flooding?”  As a result, Scotch Plains will soon require soil percolation testing as part of all land use applications.

Soil percolation tests will provide a better understanding about how absorbable the ground is at a particular project.  If the testing, for example, demonstrates that the soil is too saturated to absorb water, then our professionals and land use boards may require the installation of dry wells and other water infiltration systems to obtain town approvals.

We are proud of our support of the Recreation Commission’s “Master Plan” and of the improvements we have made throughout the town.  These improvements include, but are not limited to, resurfacing Southside Field, holding DOGust eventsimprovements to Brookside Park, new pickleball courts and a multi-sport basketball/hockey/futsol (hard court soccer) area at Green Forest Park, new, handicap accessible equipment at Greenside Park and restoring the proper, historical name to our municipal golf course, Shady Rest.

The township is hosting more and more events for residents 55 years of age or older, such as games promoting daily exercise, miniature golf and trips.

We also want to continue doing away with events that few residents participate in and replace them with activities that are fun for all, including individuals with disabilities.  See for what we are doing and for what is coming our way.

Question 3. What do you think are the most pressing issues for Scotch Plains and what would you intend to do about it?
The most pressing municipal issues are concentrated within the following three themes:

  1. Maintaining the town’s strong fiscal management;
  2. Ensuring public safety; and
  3. Carefully making community improvements while always watching the bottom line.

Question 4.  How do you think the Scotch Plains taxpayers can be more involved in planning for the future of our community? 
One way is for voters to meet with candidates running for Town Council, asking them smart, non-partisan questions and voting for the candidates who best reflect the voter’s values and shares the same comprehensive plans for the town’s future.

Another way is to participate in our many public monthly meetings of our many boards/commissions, such as the Town Council, Planning and Zoning Board, Recreation Commission, Environmental Commission, Green Team and Library Board meetings.  As stated above, we determined Town Hall should remain in our downtown, a central gathering place for civic participation.

Yet another way is to contact our town manager or any member of the Council and share one’s ideas about the future of the township.  Each of us makes the time to connect with residents whenever asked.

Receiving our weekly E-Messenger, delivered on Fridays, is another way to stay informed and become more involved.  Residents may record their email address on the very top of to receive the weekly online newsletters.

Question 5. Is there anything else you think our alliance members need to know about you and your perspective on our town?  Each of us cares deeply about Scotch Plains and seeks your support so that we may continue representing the township responsibly on the Town Council.