Dear Morris Township Residents,
My name is Cathy Wilson. I’m running for Township Committee. I want to let you know why I’m running and what I stand for.
I have always followed politics but have never – until now – run for elected office. Why am I doing this? What’s changed? The answer is found in three words: Honeywell, Sandy, and Columbia.
I recently completed a master’s degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University. In one of my classes (Advanced Conflict Resolution) I used the Honeywell situation in Morris Township as a case study. Important findings included: 1) Distrust was a major source of conflict in this situation. 2) The process used to work with this situation fueled this distrust.
I believe the resolution process used in the Honeywell case was flawed, in part, because key decisions were made behind closed doors by officials who many in the community suspected of favoring Honeywell’s interests over the neighbors’. While the process did include plenty of opportunities for public comment, many residents who were not part of the “in-group” of decision makers did not trust the integrity of this forum. The opportunities for public input were viewed by many as a formality for rubberstamping an outcome that had basically been predetermined by the powers that be.
This conflict remains unresolved. Litigation continues – a high cost outcome in dollars, trust, aggravation, and damaged relationship potential. Honeywell has now decided to leave Morris Township. It’s hard to imagine a more “lose-lose” outcome for everyone.
The Honeywell situation calls me to action: When it comes to working with contentious land use and zoning issues, our current resolution process is NOT OK. It breeds distrust. It has significant flaws. It needs to be changed. I know how to work with conflicts like this. It’s time for me to step up, lean in, and share what I have to offer. It’s time for me to serve our community in new ways.
The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy had a similar effect on me. After the trauma of being without power for 12 days, my response was: this is NOT OK. I don’t ever want this to happen again – to me or to anyone else. I’ve studied this issue in depth. It’s become a passion for me! The circumstances are complex (no simple fix solutions). I am a founding member of CREMT (Citizens for Reliable Electricity in Morris Township). Our mission is improved RESULTS (fewer outages, better communication). I’m cooking with ideas! Serving as an elected official will help turn these ideas into action. My goal is to be the “point person” between the Township, JCP&L, and the residents.
One other reason I’ve decided to run: Like many people in our community, I’ve been concerned for years that our local government is dominated by an “in-group” of conservative, Republican males. This reality is not healthy: it breeds distrust (aka Honeywell). I’m also concerned that women are half of our population but none of our elected representatives – another reality that needs to change. Governance by a small, high-power, in-group is NOT OK. Our residents deserve better.
I’m not about opposing our Republican colleagues. I’m about joining them - at the table, as equals - to work together in smart, collaborative ways to solve problems, build trust, and create beneficial outcomes for our community. I’m not interested in partisanship, divisiveness, or blame. I’m interested in results.
I’m an ideas person, a people person, and a pragmatist. I offer a new perspective, an informed skill set, a dedication to preserving what’s working well in our community, and an innovative vision for targeted change. I’m about solving problems and building trust. I ask for your support in the November 5 election.
All the best,