John Cosgrove, Republican Candidate for Borough Council
The Fair Lawn Borough Council election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Get to Know a Candidate -- Fast Facts
Family: Single; Three children -- John, 27; Kevin, 24; Kerry, 21.
Job: President of Atlantic Handling Systems, which designs conveyor and storage systems.
Ties to Fair Lawn: Has lived in Fair Lawn all of his life; Family has lived in Fair Lawn for over 100 years; All three of his children live in Fair Lawn.
Favorite TV Show: The Honeymooners
Favorite Movie: It's a Wonderful Life
Favorite Book: Good to Great by Jim Collins
Activities & Organizations (past and present): Fair Lawn Fire Department, Former Chief; Fair Lawn Football Association, Board Member and Coach; Fair Lawn All-Sports Association, Board Member. Material Handling Equipment Dealers Association (MHEDA), President; New Jersey Business Network (NJBN), President; Fair Lawn Athletic Hall of Fame Committee, Vice President; The Foundation at Bergen Regional Medical Center, Chairman; Fair Lawn Athletic Club; Fair Lawn Community Center 501(c)(3), Chairman; Fair Lawn Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors; Fair Lawn 75th Anniversary Committee, Chairman; Fair Lawn High School Touchdown Club, Founder; Fair Lawn High School Parents' Committee for Athletics, President.
Honors: Fair Lawn Person of the Year, 2007; Valor Award Citation Star for Bravery, 1991; Bergen County Volunteer of the Year (3 times); Namesake of Fair Lawn Community Center gymnasium.
Most Surprised to Know: That there's a part of him that's shy.
Message: “I will fight for you, the residents. Like I always have throughout my whole career, even though I’ve done everything volunteer in Fair Lawn, I’ve always put 110 percent in whatever I’ve done for the community. It's like our slogan of putting Fair Lawn First. I’m going to fight for the residents of Fair Lawn.”
Council Candidate Forum Responses:
I've spent most of my adult life volunteering and serving the community. Was inspired to run because of my deep commitment to Fair Lawn and its residents. These are turbulent times that require council members experience to govern Fair Lawn. Believe I am well-suited to accept this challenge. Running to serve you as a public servant, not a politician.
If elected, what physical improvement and service improvement would you make in FL?
A study was done in the past on pedestrian safety in Fair Lawn, I suggest we revisit that. As a Fair Lawn fire fighter I have experience with terrible results of traffic safety in Fair Lawn. When you walk in Ridgewood, people stop at crosswalks, but in Fair Lawn that doesnt happen because of excessive traffic. We need to enforce safety regulations for pedestrians.
How would you seek to improve relations between police dept and governing body?
It's obvious that what we're doing isn't working. Costly lawsuits, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars being mismanaged. All comes down to leadership. Number one responsibility of government is public safety. It was reckless and irresponsible to fire police officers. I believe we have to come together. Manager must meet with Chief and form a committee of officers. We have to get this solved because it's costing us a fortune.
Overbuilding. Concern of new apartment units and lack of open space. Would you seek to change zoning processes and regulations? If so, how?
Very concerned about over development. We have 2 percent open space, and we all agree to stop the madness and save that, but I'm concerned about re-development. The building on River Road with 17 apartments, it doesn't have a loading dock, it's going to back up traffic. Peter Seiden taught us to stand in people's back yards and think, 'Would we want this?' If we continue this we'll have massive traffic jams on River Road.
What should we do with Memorial Pool?
We really need to put effort and planning of a master plan for the pool. Unfortunately, this is not the last flood we'll see. Floods continue to get worse. We need to put together a plan. There are pros and cons to sand bottom. We must put together a committee and look at this. I would hate to see us put the money to repair the pool and find out we won't be able to use the pool due to the state. It all comes down to leadership and management.
How do party politics affect Fair Lawn council and should they matter?
Party politics I don't think should be involved at all in Fair Lawn issues. I don't think politics should enter into any of this. I wish we could run as Independents totally, but that'll never happen because of politics.
How would you be accessible to residents as a council member?
I have always made myself available to Fair Lawn residents in all of my endeavors. I will continue to do that.
What can the council do to maintain quality of school and keep town affordable for residents?
We must maintain quality of schools. I am a graduate, as are my children. Cooperation between Board of Ed and the government here is definitely essential.
Several towns including Lodi, Saddle Brook, Maywood and Rochelle Park formed a group to work on flooding of Saddle River. Why isnt there a Fair Lawn rep on this coalition? (Ed. Note: Fair Lawn actually does have a rep on the coalition, Albee Palmieri)
I can't answer that, only Mayor Swain up here can. But my heart goes out to people who have been flooded by the rivers. But we also have other flooding issues, on Arcadia Road, with a pike the goes nowhere. If you drive down Arcadia Road today, the water when it backs up into the pipes it backs up into the people's basements. Also have other areas of town that need to be addressed. Flooding isn't going to go away. It's a direct product of overdevelopment.
What type of recreational and social programs woud you like to see for people with disabilities and how can we better include people with disabilities in our community?
Folks from the Opportunity Center play basketball at the Community Center on Wednesday and it's great to see. We should focus on whatever we can do for people with special needs in town.
Define your vision for progress for Fair Lawn in the 21st century?
I look forward to the future in Fair Lawn. I spent my whole life here and I hope to continue to be able to live here. We talked about overdevelopment -- our team is all for business. I can see two story buildings on River Road, I just can't see 45 ft buildings with 17 apartments on it. On zoning side, the 10,000 square foot building going up across the street from here on Fair Lawn Avenue. It's incredible that the zoning board would let that happen.
Specific proposals to keep taxes under control to make FL affordable for young families and seniors?
I've had to make a lot of tough decisions with my business, what we're going to do. We can't raise prices so we have to increase productivity. Must give employees the tools and empower them. You can't do that with the low level of morale of the employees here in Fair Lawn. If you know a town employee or police officer, ask them and hear what they think of their job in Fair Lawn today. We need to turn that around and make people feel good about what they're doing here in their jobs.
Name one shared service you'd like to introduce or investigate
Engage Elmwood Park because they outsource their recycling. See if we have the capability to take their recycling.
Since only one council meeting a month is taped, how many work sessions have you attended in the last six months?
I haven't attended any work sessions because you have me a little busy. I really stayed out of that arena, I let the elected people handle the work sessions. I do watch all the council meetings every chance I get. I think we should look at giving people from Fair Lawn TV the equipment they need to better deliver government to people.
There are clear cut difference between our team and the others -- we can reverse failed policies of the last four years that have led to costly lawsuits and overdevelopment. If you believe 10,000 square foot homes, retail stores with 17 apartments on top, aren't right for Fair Lawn, vote for us. We will face toughest problems in history over the next four years. Our leaders will need the skills to navigate through these tough times. Many of you know me through my community involvement here over 40 years. I think my team and I will be a great asset to Fair Lawn.