Berkeley Heights deserves a government that is as great as the people who live here. That means having a Township Administration – Mayor, Council members, and the employees who serve our community day to day – which works hard to be a voice for all of us.
It’s not just about who serves us at Town Hall, though – it’s about all of us being given the chance to get involved in making Berkeley Heights an even better place to live. Going backwards – back to a time where only 1 party, 1 group, decided our town’s future for the rest of us – is not an option.
Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent; whether you are a lifelong resident, just moved here, or came anytime in between; and no matter who you are, or where your ancestors came from, you deserve to be heard, respected, and included in the work of building a better Berkeley Heights.
That’s what BH Better Together is all about. If you believe in this vision of what Berkeley Heights ought to be, then this website and this campaign are for you. It’s not about winning a single election – it’s about building a common future for our town. We are committed to building that future together – and with your help, we can make it happen!
It’s been a trying and difficult few years.
Like many of you, there were times that I struggled with so much unknown in the early days of Covid-19. I found strength and inspiration from many places, namely my family, my “mamas,” Town hall staff and Father Andy Prachar who supported me in times of weakness even though I am not Catholic. He coined a phrase that will forever send me right back into the memory of those early months of the global pandemic. He called that feeling “Leadership Tired.” At the end of the day, we all felt the weight, the heaviness of the Covid crisis plus the exposure of the wound that social and racial injustice caused all bubbling to the surface simultaneously.
My family sacrificed. While most families were reconnecting over dinner, playing board games and cooking together, the Devanneys were surviving off of 3 square take-out meals a day, a mother and wife who spent her time on emergency management calls with the state, county and local level until all hours of the day and missing a mom’s stabilizing force. There were high school graduations, proms, championship games and dance recital never held. A sadness for loss of it all. My husband George forged forward and ran our business without me, never complaining.
I share these very personal moments because as we emerge from the Covid crisis, I had uncertainty about running for re-election. Not because I don’t love the job, the hard work and the connection to this community—because I most certainly do. It was because my family gave selflessly so I could take care of our residents.
We all are witnessing that Berkeley Heights is in the midst of change. Many important projects, cultural events, and planning will shape what this community will become in the future. My local, county, state and federal relationships, my ability to get things done has kept us safe and is helping us grow. Recently, I had an epiphany. This is not the time for a hiatus but rather a time to lean in fully after Covid has derailed what we are capable of evolving into as a community.
Just a few highlights come to mind. Working with Congressman Malinowki to bring $500,000 to Berkeley Heights to address the aging infrastructure and drainage issues plaguing the Township. Lobbying Union County to ensure the Berkeley Caterers project becomes the gateway jewel of our community providing passive recreation and walking trails along the Passaic. Driving innovative ways to fund the redevelopment of Peppertown Park to be the gem of our downtown. Negotiating with FiServe to bring in $150,000 in funding for the lower Columbia Park development initiative started by volunteers.
Taking care of our seniors by completing 800 vaccine registrations. Recording regular “robo” calls—that still take place today– so our older adults who may not access technology can easily stay informed. Creating a senior survey to ensure that every older resident has a voice in the activities through the creation of a Senior Advisory Committee because Berkeley Heights seniors want to age in place.
Respecting our first responders at the highest level, OEM, fire and the rescue squad. Appointing our new police chief who will continue the work of emphasizing community policing. Creating senior programs like the Mobile Vehicles Commission in the BHPD the parking lot at town hall. Fighting for Accreditation through our municipal insurance company to help to give our police department the tools they need. Working with our Mayor’s Youth Council to offer self-defense training for young women.
Creating an Economic Development Committee that provided support for businesses during shut down. Launching a Technical review Committee to help starting a business in Berkeley Heights easier. Passing the creation of an entrainment zone that make Berkeley Heights a destination. Pushing for improvements like green space and biking/walking paths in downtown to grow the restaurant and other industries that will service the new residents moving into that area.
Keeping a mindful eye on the finances. Hiring a Financial Planner to track debt, pay down debt and maintain our financial health. Dedicating reserves for snow, sewer, debt services and more. Pushing to ensure redevelopment projects stay on track so that our affordable housing agreement would not be jeopardized but we can pay down the debt on the municipal complex plus permanent finance our debt.
Creating a welcoming community where everyone feels a part of Berkeley Heights. Passing a permanent committee, the Truth Community Healing Committee. Celebrating everyone’s culture through community flag raisings events. Planning a multicultural street fair in the fall. Assessing our diversity and inclusion in Town hall and our commissions and boards.
Admittedly, there were a few groans on Cornell Avenue when I discussed the importance to me of continuing my work in the Township. But I know I have the love and support of my family to ensure I keep Berkeley Heights on the forefront.
So, it is with great pride I launch my campaign for re-election. We have much more to do, Berkeley Heights. I’m looking forward to us all doing it together. After all, we are better together!