Ralph Flaherty

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:00

Sparta resident for 25 years. Occupation: Retired as Business Director at BASF in 2004. Community Service: United Way board member and member of the Sparta Planning Board. The major issues facing Sparta today are taxes, confidence in government and quality of life. I have specific solutions for each of these issues. • Regarding taxes, I will use my background in business and finance to be a spending watchdog on the council, conducting a line-by-line budget review, but also getting behind the numbers to understand the rationale for spending programs. • Budget review alone will not produce a significant tax reduction. I will institute programs to increase our ratables by attracting the types of business which maintain Sparta’s character and which will not require large additional infrastructure commitments. • The public’s confidence in government has been eroded by the character of the schools debate. I have already reached out to school board members in a spirit of cooperation. I will use my influence to reach a cost-effective and practical solution for both the taxpayers and our children. • Public perception of government’s accessibility and accountability has also eroded. I will use my experience in personnel performance management to ensure Sparta Township becomes more “customer focused”. I will vote to add more Town Hall meetings, and I will be available to any concerned citizen by phone or email. • Maintaining the quality of life that attracted most of us to Sparta is a main concern. I will use my Planning Board experience to ensure that there is a correct balance between positive economic development and acquisition of open space to preserve and enhance Sparta’s character. • Another quality of life issue is public safety and welfare. Violence on our athletic fields, drugs in our schools, and gang activity in our town are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. I will work with our law enforcement professionals, community leaders and non-profit/faith-based organizations to protect our families. Sparta has undergone significant changes since I moved here nearly 25 years ago. We need strong, qualified public servants to ensure that the Town will retain its charm and that it will continue to be an affordable place to live. As with my community service on the Board of United Way and the Sparta Planning Board, I won’t come to the Council with any agenda other than my willingness to serve the town I love. I have the background (MBA in Finance), experience (35 years in business) and character to deliver on my promises, and I ask you for your vote on Tuesday, November 8th. www.ralphflaherty.com