Carolann Garafola, who is uncontested in seeking another term as a Republican on the Warren Township Committee that would bring her tenure beyond 20 years upon completion, said she sees herself as a person who gets things done.
Whether it's pitching in to pick up trash during Warren's recent Beautification Day, protesting Jersey Central Power & Light's handling of last year's Sandy emergency or, she said, steering residents in the right direction to resolve issues, Garafola described herself as an "advocate" for the township and its residents.
"I get things done," she said, but added, "I don't do it alone."
That included working to bring about the 9/11 memorial at the municipal complex, and taking the more personal approach of reaching out to those whose lives were touched by the terrorism in 2011.
Garafola, who is executive director at Mount Bethel Village, a facility serving disabled adults within the township, said she is an "accessible" elected official.
Garafola also said she doesn't shy away from believing that, "As a female, I bring a different point of view" to the otherwise all-male Township Committee. She describes herself as sometimes having "a softer way...a different touch."
Garafola said she has tried to look at meeting the needs of all of the residents of Warren Township, whether through youth sports programs, or keeping down costs in a way to serve the township's 15 percent of senior citizens and the "quiet millionaires" in Warren. She said those residents don't toot their own horn.
She describes herself as supportive of local businesses, and said the recent establishment of a local chamber of commerce is "significant."
She also said she has been consistent in working to keep municipal taxes down, and also credits Warren's many volunteers with making that possible.
During rough financial years, she said she was very careful to try to as much as possible have a "pay as you go" philosophy of spending municipal funds. She said the municipal budget makes up 11 percent of the local property tax bill in Warren Township.
Garafola is seeking re-election as she finishes up her 18th year on the Warren Township Committee.
Warren Township has a mayor appointed by the Township Committee for an annual basis, and Garafola said she has been appointed as mayor five times.
She said she first ran in 1995, when she was not endorsed by the local GOP party; but she did gain the party endorsement the second time around. She added she has not been opposed for her seat the last three times she ran for Township Committee. She said she also served on the Board of Education, and on the Warren Township Planning Board.
She said she came to Warren Township 37 years ago, moving from Newark to have room for a horse, dogs and cats. "I really was a country girl."
At that time, she said she had a hard time obtaining a mortgage as a single woman seeking to buy her home and its acreage. But she said she had a substantial down payment since she had been raised to invest her money rather than spending it on "frivolous" items.