West Caldwell Councilman Rich Otterbein seeks a third, three-year term in November’s election. Otterbein, a Republican, is running unopposed.
Councilman Otterbein currently serves on the West Caldwell Council as Council President and Chairman of the Public Safety and Real Estate Committees. He is council representative to the West Caldwell Board of Health.
Otterbein and his wife, Carol, have lived in West Caldwell for more than 55 years. They have three children, all graduates of James Caldwell High School.
Councilman Otterbein is a licensed professional engineer, an engineering consultant and president of Affiliated Engineering Laboratories, Inc., based in Edison.
In addition to serving on the since 1969, he is a New Jersey State Certified Fire Official, a member of two national product safety/design standards committees, and previously served as a West Caldwell-Caldwell recreation coach. He is a member of Roman Catholic Church in North Caldwell.
The following questions were posed to Otterbein via email:
Q: What achievement are you most proud of from your current term on the council?
A. I believe the successful completion of the Oval Turf Project, negotiation of interlocal agreements in the areas of police joint dispatch and health services, and infrastructure upgrades in our road and water systems are among the proudest achievements completed during this term. In addition, I am also proud of our efforts to maintain fiscal stability in the township given the difficult economic times in which we now operate. We have maintained the services which our residents desire and continue to evaluate ways to consolidate services where appropriate and use tax dollars wisely.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the next three years?
A: The next three years will continue to be filled with fiscal and performance challenges. Our resources will need to be stretched further and new and innovative concept and ideas will be required to best serve the needs of our residents. I expect to continue to support upgrading our infrastructure and recreation facilities, completing the fire headquarters renovation project, enhancing our technology capabilities, and maintaining the services that create a safe environment for both our residents and the business community.
Q: What do you think are the big issues facing residents of West Caldwell and what have you done/what can you do to address them?
A: In my opinion, the big issues facing the residents of West Caldwell will be stretching the tax dollar to do more, infrastructure upgrades, and maintaining/enhancing those municipal programs and services that best serve the community. The challenges will most likely involve consolidation of programs and/or services where practical as well as the implementation of innovative ideas in our governmental structure. I have supported programs that serve the best interest of our residents, including infrastructure upgrades and consolidation of service such as police dispatch, health services and joint recreation programs and worked to streamline our government structure in general. I expect to actively work with my colleagues to continue to promote progressive programs for the common good of our citizens and enhancement of government efficiency.
Q: Do you support the possibility of closing one of the West Caldwell pools in order to create a single state-of-the-art facility?
A: It is premature to answer this question. There is a significant amount of research and evaluation work to be performed before an educated decision can be made on this issue. Only when this issue has been thoroughly vetted will I be in position to make such a decision.
Q: What additional merged services might West Caldwell residents see in the future?
A: We are currently discussing a number of joint service opportunities. These opportunities involve negotiations that will take time to accomplish. Suffice it to say that all municipal operations are being considered as potential interlocal ventures with our surrounding West Essex communities.
Q: What is something most people don't know about you?
A: I have been a volunteer firefighter in West Caldwell for over 38 years and I am the only person in recent history to have chaired both the West Caldwell Planning Board and the West Caldwell Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.