Q: What did you do before becoming an elected official?
A: I was, and still am today, a proud owner of a small business. I have owned several restaurants and taverns in the area. I currently own and operate Duffy's Tavern on River Street in Paterson.
Q: What was the first time you became involved in local government?
A: Before I became a Freeholder, I was (and still am) a member of the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association, which is a group of business owners who operate restaurants or bars with a liquor license. Part of the role of the NJLBA is to lobby for our fellow business owners in the state assembly. This is when I learned how much government can really affect our lives, and the importance to communicating with local officials.
Q: What role do you think government plays in people's everyday lives?
A: I think it plays a huge role in our everyday lives. I have seen it with my business more than anything. Being involved opens your eyes to the impact government has on us, so it is very important to pay attention to what goes on.
Q: How important are local officials, such as Freeholders in government?
A: Local government is more important that most people realize. The Freeholders are committed to maintaining services, but do not want to put that burden on our county taxpayers. We work very hard to pursue grants and funding from areas outside of Passaic County to implement all kinds of programs. Recently, we've received funds for park improvements, road construction, senior and veteran services, and energy assistance.
Q: What issues or concerns do constituents raise when they contact your office?
A: I have received all kinds of calls throughout the years, but because of my background as a small business owner, I believe fellow business owners reach out directly to me to see how I can help.
Q: What is an example?
A: A small business in Bloomingdale called, "The River of Beer" needed some guidance in getting a permit to serve food from the town. The owner had to comply with flood regulations, and was spending money on upgrades and modifications that he did not need for the permit. I, along with town officials gave him some guidance on what needed to be done and who to reach out too. Soon after he was able to serve food and fully open his restaurant.