Third Ward Candidate Holds Event To Assure Neighbors
Sue Ann Penna, a Republican running for council in the Third Ward, held a "Meet The Candidate" event on Friday evening.
Before Friday, Sheila McGhee never spent a muggy summer night – or any other night – alongside her neighbors in the Third Ward bemoaning the state of Bloomfield.
“This is the first meeting like this I've ever attended like this and I've been in Bloomfield in 15 years,” McGhee said. “The way things are changing here so much is enough to drive me out of my house to see what's going on.”
Along with McGhee, 15 other Third Ward residents gathered at a Meet the Candidate session for Sue Ann Penna, a Republican running for Third Ward council for the first time, because, like everyone listening to her, she want to see changes in her hometown.
“I want to be the voice and the eyes and the ears to let all of you know what's going on,” said Penna, 46, who is running opposite Democrat Carlos Bernard on November's ballot.
Many of the grievances aired by residents Friday night rang familiar: ever-increasing taxes, fewer services offered by the township, and heightened concerns over crime.
To this end, Penna is hoping to succeed where current Third Ward Councilman Robert Ruane, a Democrat who attended Friday's function, could not. Ruane, who was defeated by Bernard in the June 7 primary, tried to preach “fiscal sanity” versus what both he and Penna termed the “tax-and-spend” philosophy of four-term major Raymond McCarthy and the council, expressed concern a new voice could change an old way of doing business.
And while Penna said Friday night that she is “not disillusioned to think I'll have an easy go at this”, she said she shares the concerns of her fellow residents over being taxed out of their homes, pointing out there are four foreclosed homes on her street. Just like them, she wants more transparency in spending regarding township issues including lack of funding for the fire and police departments in addition to the ongoing Bloomfield Center redevelopment project.
“The solution is we have to change how this administration is running things,” Penna said. “It's not efficient. (McCarthy's) been there for 10 years – do you feel like things have gotten better or worse in 10 years? Do you feel like your quality of life in Bloomfield was better or worse in 10 years?”
From there, nearly everyone shared a story of concern – from lack of police patrolling the area to McGhee calling to have branches cut from her tree and never hearing back from the town.
“Yet my taxes go up and I can't get a branch cut off,” McGhee said.
“I don't mind paying taxes. As long as the service goes along with it,” she continued. “Everybody likes to see the value of their dollar.”
More than anything, this prompted Democrats such as Nate Bailey, an eight-year resident of Bloomfield, to consider switching party lines; one of Penna's central themes was fiscal responsibility transcending political affiliation.
“There is a need for a change, a new face, integrity,” Bailey said.
However, Jefferson Ramos, who has lived in town the past four years, urged Penna to follow through on her campaign promises if she is elected.
“The people who reach out to you need to have a response,” Ramos said.
In response, Penna looked around at everyone listening and assured them she would be not just their voice, but that she would also hear their concerns.
“I hope you are all ready for a change,” Penna said.