4 running for 3 council seats

BYRAM TWP. Three incumbents are seeking re-election in the Nov. 7 election.

| 26 Oct 2023 | 06:59

Four candidates are competing for three seats on the Byram Township Council in the Nov. 7 election.

Incumbents Raymond Bonker, Lisa “Cris” Franco and John “Jack” Gallagher Jr. are running along with Richard Proctor.

The terms are for four years.


Why are you running for the Township Council?

I am running for re-election to continue the progress Byram has made over the past four years.

I am very proud of the fiscal discipline Byram has achieved. The average municipal tax increase in Byram since my election has been 1.22 percent despite rampant inflation pressures.

We successfully negotiated a five-year labor contract for 2 percent annual salary increases for our police, Department of Public Works and administrative employees.

We have received multiple grants from New Jersey, Sussex County and the Highlands Council in furtherance of our efforts to improve our parks, lakes and trail networks.

We have also introduced natural gas service in Byram for the first time, maintained our AA+ credit rating, saved residents money through a townwide electricity aggregation deal, and entered into shared service agreements with Andover, Hopatcong, Netcong, Sparta and Sussex County.

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

I campaigned on three issues in 2019 that need to be completed:

1) Municipal building: After more than 10 years of analysis, design, engineering and financial planning, Byram finally has bid-ready architectural plans and specifications for construction. The council has put the final decision on the renovation of the municipal building in the hands of the voters.

2) Recreation: I have been directly involved in active recreation in Byram for 25 years, and through my participation on the Open Space Committee for the past 23 years, Byram has increased both the quantity and quality of our recreational fields and trails.

We have also renovated both Riverside Park and Neil Gylling Park, and we have extensive plans for the renovation of C.O. Johnson Park, including a dog park, a renewed basketball court, additional parking, walking paths, trails and the repair of field CO#8 for use by all sports.

3) Route 206: Over the past four years, Byram has seen significant increases in investments along our commercial Route 206 corridor. I have been thrilled to participate in multiple grand opening ceremonies for all of these businesses that proudly call Byram home, and I look forward to additional development along this business district to keep Byram economically vibrant long into the future.

Do you support or oppose the referendum on the ballot regarding a new municipal building? Why?

I strongly support the referendum and encourage all of my fellow residents to vote for this solution to our many long-standing problems with our police and administrative buildings.

This referendum represents the most cost-effective solution and will serve Byram well for many decades into the future.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

As a lifelong Byram resident, I love my hometown. Byram gave me and my family a great start in life, and I want to help provide that opportunity to every generation.

I also bring an extensive record of public service along with private sector experience that demonstrates my leadership and teamwork to bring Byram the best possible results.

Background and qualifications

• Proud graduate of Byram Intermediate School and Lenape Valley Regional High School, where I graduated as the valedictorian.

• Graduate of Harvard University with degree in computer science and economics.

• Worked for 15 years on Wall Street at Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch.

Community Activities:

• 4 years as Byram deputy mayor.

• 4 years as president of the Lenape Valley Board of Education.

• 23 years on the Byram Open Space Committee.

• Three years on the Sussex County Open Space Committee.

• 30 years as treasurer of Christ Church, Budd Lake.

• 23 Years as manager of the Lenape Valley Soccer Club adult teams.

• Eagle Scout.


Why are you running for the Township Council?

I am running for re-election to continue the good work we have been doing.

I have been accessible to anyone wanting to reach out to me.

I take my work at the Town Council very seriously and represent our Town Council on our Planning Board and Board of Health, and I would like to stay active in these areas if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected to my second term.

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

First and foremost, the municipal building project. We need to proceed with this construction project for the good of the town, our Police Department and our administration so they can continue to provide important services to our residents.

Second, the enhancements and re-vitalization of C.O. Johnson Park. We are in the process of redesigning parts of the park to fix Field 8, making it a full-size football/soccer/lacrosse field, together with lighting, new drainage and press box.

We are also looking into revitalization of the fieldhouse so that seniors are able to use the facility for meetings and activities.

Third, bringing more businesses to our commercial corridor in town (Route 206). It is always inspiring to see new construction, re-vitalization and enhancements on Route 206.

Do you support or oppose the referendum on the ballot regarding a new municipal building? Why?

I am 100 percent in favor of the referendum on the ballot regarding the municipal building project. Our municipal complex is composed of one building (tax and council meeting room) and 12 temporary construction trailers that were purchased in approximately 1972 from AT&T for $1 each. These were never intended to be a forever solution.

There is a facade in front of the trailers and a roof was built above the trailers to make the appearance more aesthetically pleasing years ago.

The current structure is very wasteful in heating and A/C, costing the taxpayers more than necessary.

Our Police Department fails inspection every year as the structure is not up to code, resulting in safety issues for our wonderful police. For instance, there is no soundproof room for interrogations, no holding room for those arrested, etc. There is not enough storage for evidence, records or armory.

In addition, the entire complex (including the building) is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is not enough room for anyone in a wheelchair to navigate in the restrooms, for instance.

We have been making temporary improvements to the complex for the past few years because there has been a plan to rebuild the complex and we do not want to waste taxpayer funds on a building that will eventually be demolished.

I encourage everyone to vote yes to the question on the ballot. We need to move forward with this project.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

I have been dedicated to our work as Town Council for the past four years.

I am a very positive person and am very open and honest with our residents. I look forward to conversation and debate about various topics that arise.

Generally, I am open to persuasion during that conversation and debate. I generally weigh all sides and will make a decision on my position based on what I hear from others.

Background and qualifications

I have lived in Byram Township since 1989. I work full-time in Parsippany for a title insurance company and have worked in the industry since 1984. I currently am assistant vice president, accounting manager and agency administrator for Old Republic National Title Insurance Co.

I am married and my husband and I have two daughters who have grown up in Byram Township and have attended the Byram schools and graduated from Lenape Valley High School.

While my daughters were young, I was their Girl Scout leader and was very active with the local Girl Scout Service Unit and our Girl Scout Council, including six years as service unit cookie manager and three years as service unit candy/nuts and magazine sales manager.

When my daughters graduated from college and no longer needed me to drive to activities, etc., I felt that I needed to give back to my community in some way. I started in 2018 by volunteering for the Municipal Building Subcommittee and was chosen to be co-chairwoman of the subcommittee. Together with John Morytko, we wrote and presented our final report to the prior Town Council.


Why are you running for the Township Council?

I am running for re-election to continue to listen to and be a voice for all my fellow constituents.

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

1) Facilities upgrades.

2) Infrastructure upgrades including but not limited to roadways, internet, gas, cable and electric

3) Economic growth for the township.

Do you support or oppose the referendum on the ballot regarding a new municipal building? Why?

I will support the majority vote of our township constituents.

I know many people have strong feelings on both sides of this topic, and I can understand why.

Allowing the people to decide this is what will allow the township administration to know precisely how our citizens feel.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

I consider myself to be very relatable to a majority of our citizens. I’ve raised three daughters in our township, all three graduating from Byram School District and now my grandchildren are attending the schools.

Throughout my 30-plus years as a Byram resident, I have walked many avenues in life. I have experienced being a young father and a first-time homeowner to working multiple jobs to keep a roof over my families’ head and food on the table.

In my current phase of life, I am gazing at my retirement on the horizon. I can understand the needs of our younger generations just starting out all the way through to the fixed incomes of our senior citizens and the many spans in between.

Respecting everyone in all seasons of life is what really helps guide me in decision-making for our township.

Background and qualifications

My career in sales and constant communication with the general public in many other avenues has allowed me the opportunity to really find common ground with all my fellow citizens.

I am a volunteer firefighter for our township for almost 20 years now.

I’m happy to take advantage of any moments where I can help out.


Why are you running for the Township Council?

I’m running to rejuvenate the Byram Township Council by bringing some fresh ideas and renewed motivation for progress to the town.

What are the top three things you plan to accomplish if elected?

I would love to see some of the recreation plans that have been discussed, such as the fieldhouse improvements, be put to action.

I would also push to change some of the zoning ordinances to help foster some economic development along the Route 206 corridor.

Do you support or oppose the ballot question on funding for a new municipal building? Why?

I will be voting for the municipal building referendum to pass.

The amount taken out in the bond ordinance will not necessarily equate to the final cost of the project, and if the referendum fails, it will be another two years before the council can broach the subject again.

This is a necessary endeavor, and continuing to delay the project will not make the process any easier or cheaper.

I’ve done research and spoken with other towns that have done similar projects, and the proposal Byram has on the table is right in line with the recent market.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

I have the governmental experience and administrative perspective that none of the other candidates have, which has led me to my interest in running for Byram Township Council, where I can provide a fresh perspective for a better Byram.

Background and qualifications

I’ve lived in Byram all my life and have been active in many sectors of the town.

I played Hobb Engler and Arrows/Patriots football and I was an active leader and Eagle Scout in BSA Troop 276, based in Byram.

I now serve on the Byram Township Planning Board.

I graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in political science and a double minor in business and public administration.

For two years, I worked for Byram Township in a variety of roles and departments. I currently serve as the assistant borough administrator and deputy zoning officer for the borough of Netcong.