ELIZABETH — Former school board President Armando DaSilva has always felt inspired to serve the public but he decided to run for city council after he returned from an afternoon shopping trip to find his home had been burglarized on New Year’s Eve.
Instead of preparing to ring in 2010 with family and friends, DaSilva spent the evening completing police reports and cleaning up the ransacked house.
With three young children and a wife to care for, DaSilva’s fear and frustration culminated around the thought that the councilman who replaced longtime representative Bob Jaspan four years ago has allowed city services to decline.
“Joe Keenan promised to be responsive to our needs and address such serious concerns as the city’s rising crime rate, but I have not seen that,” said DaSilva. “When my home was invaded, I knew he let us down.”
“Keenan stood silent while state Sen. Ray Lesniak eliminated the Drug Free Zones around our schools,” said DaSilva.
“He failed to beef up police patrols in Elmora as promised and instead, there are fewer police patrols actually keeping neighborhoods safe,” he said.
DaSilva delineated an array of other differences with the incumbent.
“Keenan has no plan to address the overwhelming traffic problem on Elmora Avenue,” said DaSilva. “He has been reckless with city tax dollars and cavalier about imposing furloughs on those who actually do the heavy lifting in our municipal workforce.”
Fiscal integrity and ethics are also sharp contrasts.
“The city budget should be subject to voter approval in the same manner as the school spending plan,” said DaSilva, who noted that this would, create a more transparent process.
DaSilva pledged that he will not vote during his first term to give himself a pay increase as Keenan did less than two years into his four year term.
“After 1,500 people in the city lost their jobs, the stock market crashed, and a wave of homeowners started being swallowed up in the mortgage crisis, Joe Keenan voted to give himself a pay hike at taxpayer expense,” said DaSilva. “I find that arrogant and insensitive, because politicians are so out of touch.”
During most of DaSilva’s tenure on the school board, there had been no increase in property taxes to fund education, but Keenan ally Lesniak helped enact a law that requires higher taxes.
“The last four years have seen a sharp decline in the quality of life in Elizabeth, and I believe I can do much better,” said DaSilva.
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