Read this article as it originally appeared in the Westfield Patch on Sept. 12, 2022.
WESTFIELD, NJ — New Jersey's General Election is coming up on November 8, and two candidates are running for one open seat on Westfield Town Council.
After Councilman of Ward 1 James Boyes stepped down from the council in April, citing a conflict of interest, a vacancy was left on the council. Councilwoman Emily Root was appointed to fill the vacancy and is now running again, as the term expires in 2022.
Resident Amanda Como is running against Root for the Ward 1 seat. (Note: Como did not respond to questions posed by Westfield Patch)
Here are Democratic candidate Emily Root's answers below:
Emily Louise Root
What are you running for?
Westfield Ward 1 Council
I received my master’s in speech-language pathology from New York University and my bachelor’s in language studies from the University of California Santa Cruz.
What is your current occupation?
I am a speech-language pathologist specializing in stuttering. I have been a small business owner for nearly two decades, running my own private practice. Additionally, I am an adjunct professor in the graduate departments at Rutgers University, Kean University and San Francisco State University.
Do you have a family? Tell us about them.
I am happily married to my husband, Bruno Tedeschi, and have two wonderful stepchildren, Zoe, a junior in college at University of Rhode Island, and Dylan, a freshman at Michigan State University.
Have you ever run for office before?
I was appointed to represent Ward 1 on the Town Council in April of this year. Prior to my appointment, I successfully ran in a contested race for a Democratic Committee seat in 2019.
Why did you decide to run for council this year?
I was widowed at 35 not long after moving to Westfield. Through that singular experience I saw the depth of community here. Neighbors and friends rallied around me and helped me get through the toughest of times. I have known since then that, if given the right opportunity to give back, I would take it. How could I say no? Especially when my voice on council means I could make a difference for all families and individuals in our town. Our values make us Westfielders, no matter our party, and I’m excited to continue working hard for the people of Westfield.
If elected, what do you hope to accomplish while serving on the council?
During the four months that I have been in office, I have advocated to increase traffic calming and pedestrian safety in Ward 1, including additional pedestrian crossing beacons at busy intersections. I have worked with the Downtown Westfield Corporation to strengthen our downtown and encourage more businesses to invest in our community. As the vice chair of the public safety committee, I have an opportunity to provide input on the placement of electronic speed boxes that condition drivers to slow down by letting them know if they are speeding. I am happy to say that we’re adding more speed boxes on many of the busy streets in Ward 1. If elected in November, I intend to continue focusing on public safety, including finding ways to slow traffic in our neighborhoods and make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing Westfield residents right now and what do you intend to do about it?
Westfield celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2020. During the past three centuries, Westfield has changed significantly as each new era ushered in new challenges along with new solutions. Our predecessors in government took a clear-eyed look at those challenges and met them with tough, smart and sometimes difficult choices. We are at a crossroads today with our downtown. While we can and should preserve the beloved charm and quaintness of our downtown, we must also embrace innovation that will lead to growth and vitality to ensure our downtown continues to thrive today and for many years to come. However, I understand that our residents might be concerned about the proposed changes. That’s why I’m encouraged that StreetWorks is planning to open a preview center that will give our residents an opportunity to ask questions and provide input about the proposals for our downtown. I strongly believe in engaging the public in this important process.
Many residents are concerned about overdevelopment in Westfield, particularly in regards to The Sophia development planned for Ferris Place and Prospect St. What is your stance on the new development and what do you say to residents who believe it will cause overcrowding/traffic and change the character of the town?
As Councilwoman, I voted “no” on The Sophia after listening to residents and coming to the conclusion that the scale of the project was not appropriate for that particular corner. But like so many of the neighbors of the Sophia with whom I spoke, I support smart development. For a development project to receive my support, it must meet the criteria for smart growth and preserve what we love most about our community.
Westfield has seen an increase in car thefts over the past year or so. Do you think the town is doing enough to combat this issue? If not, what needs to be done to prevent thefts?
As the daughter of a law enforcement officer, I took a keen interest in learning about our police department when I took office. After conversations with Chief Chris Battiloro, I came to understand that Westfield’s men and women in blue are working hard and using best practices and standards to combat car thefts. Chief Battiloro told me that the department has had the full support of the mayor and council needed to address this and other public safety issues. We are fortunate to have a police chief and department strongly focused on community partnerships. As far as car thefts go, in 2021, we had 28 car thefts, the same number we had in 2017. So far this year, we’ve had 13 car thefts. Of those, 11 cars had key fobs in the car. Of course, I feel sympathy for anyone in our community who has had their car stolen. It’s traumatic to be a victim of crime. But as a community, we need to do our part to support our police. Keeping our doors and garages locked, and not leaving key fobs inside our cars, is a simple way we can all support our police and reduce car thefts.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence that you can handle this job?
Within weeks of my appointment, I had to make a decision on whether to support the controversial Sophia project. I had to quickly learn about a complex issue, engage constituents in meaningful dialogue and vote in a way that respected the wishes of the residents I represent. I have no doubt that our council will face more tough decisions going forward, but I will approach each one the same way I did with the Sophia. I will take the time to learn all sides of an issue. I will listen to residents to understand their perspective. I will not shy away from making tough decisions. My votes will be informed, independent and in the best interest of Ward 1 residents.
Is there anything else you would like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
Being sincere and open about the challenges to come are values that I embrace. Having been through hardships in life, owning a successful business and helping clients and families navigate through their own challenging times, demonstrate that I have the fortitude, compassion and experience to continue serving the residents of this wonderful community.
Do you like this page?