SPONSORED: A Closing Statement from James Cotter for Councilor At-Large

My love for Montclair is boundless. Its rich history, progressive ideals, and most importantly, its people, make our community unique. I’ve lived here for 32 years and in that time, our town has welcomed many new residents. The challenge for our community is to balance the need for growth and change with respect and consideration for the residents who have made Montclair such a diverse and dynamic place to live. I enter into public service with humility in the face of this challenge and I will do my best to bring thoughtful, common sense solutions to the issues that come to the Council.

The Issues

Over the past 10 years, Montclair has experienced significant development, sometimes for the greater good, but more often for the benefit of developers, whose projects have placed undue burdens on our township. We must ensure that developers are held accountable to residents and that any new projects are aligned with the Master Plan. Development must not overwhelm the town’s infrastructure, threaten pedestrian safety or be out of character with our neighborhoods.

Next, we have an affordability crisis. We must not only hold the line on municipal taxation to protect homeowners from dramatic increases, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, but also find creative solutions for renters facing steep hikes, for landlords to maintain their properties and for seniors to age in place. I will continue to explore shared service agreements, find new revenue streams through public/private partnerships and provide empathetic, practical and decisive leadership as we anticipate a loss of revenue and grapple with the changes this pandemic has wrought.

Inclusion and citizen engagement are central to healthy local government. I came to the political process through my neighborhood association and I will encourage others to form similar, hyper local groups to empower Montclarions to voice their concerns directly to the Council. I will collaborate with our next Mayor, Renee Baskerville, to find stable, progressive and transparent leaders for the Board of Education. I will work with our Congressional leaders to finally push for better train service from NJ Transit. We must all work in collaboration to solve problems and I am committed to enlisting new residents to volunteer their time and vast expertise to keep Montclair a thriving, diverse and inclusive place to live.

Contributions to Montclair

I have long history of service and leadership in Montclair as a committee member, community organizer, volunteer, fundraiser and public advocate. I have lived in every ward of Montclair as a renter, a landlord and as a homeowner, so I am intimately familiar with the challenges of Montclarions across the Township. I am a proud parent of two children who attend Watchung Elementary school and for the past 22 years, I’ve been a teacher at Columbia High School, an institution whose demographics, socio-economic and educational challenges mirror those of Montclair.

Through my neighborhood association and though the many organizations and committees that depend on my contributions, I’ve lobbied for pedestrian safety, traffic calming, affordability, strong schools and led the fight for the thoughtful development of Lackawanna Plaza. I’ve worked tirelessly on behalf of my neighbors and community. On the Council, I will champion inclusion and continue to amplify Your Voice Montclair.

I bring progressive values, a spirit of collaboration, and a deep and abiding love for Montclair and all that our community stands for. It would be my privilege to serve my hometown of Montclair and to make my neighbors proud. Thank you for your consideration and for your support.

To learn more, please visit www.YourVoiceMontclair.com or join our Facebook group: Cotter for Montclair.

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