We were dismayed to see our opponents send mailers and texts to North Caldwell residents which contain statements designed to mislead voters.  In rebuttal, we thought it best that you read Cindy’s and John’s actual voting record, so we can set the record straight. 

In case you missed it, view the 10/22/2020 Candidate’s Forum above.

FICTION: Cindy and John wanted to sell five acres (five one-acre lots) at Walker’s Pond to a developer

FACT: Both Cindy and John and the Council wanted residents to decide on two options via a referendum.

  • Option 1: Sell the five lots to individuals (not a developer) to build single-family homes as the lots were zoned; this would have enabled the town to keep 12 of the 17 acres for free, as sale of the lots would have recouped the cost of the Walker’s Pond acquisition; or
  • Option 2: Leave the entire 17 acres green, with the property acquisition to be paid instead by an open space fund.

Since the referendum vote was in favor of not selling the lots, the Council has publicly indicated that it would respect the voters’ wishes.

FICTION: They voted in favor of millions in debt, including $2 million during the pandemic.

FACT: During the pandemic, Cindy and John voted in favor of a ZERO increase budget. The bond they approved (at 1.41 % interest) to restore and improve Walker’s Pond as a public park has not even been spent yet and DID NOT INCREASE TAXES WHATSOVER. Moreover, North Caldwell has a low debt-to-borrowing capacity ratio—the exact definition of fiscal responsibility. The claim that Cindy and John put North Caldwell in debt is misleading, since in truth they retired millions in debt, and the new debt had no appreciable effect on the budget.  Santomauro and Chiaia have voted for balanced budgets WITH NO TAX INCREASE in five of the past eight years.

Additionally, the Walker’s Pond acquisition kept the property out of the hands of a developer of high-density housing and will improve stormwater drainage in that area.

FICTION: Cindy and John only upgraded Liberty Park after the efforts of a group of mobilized residents.

FACT: Cindy was the original founder and incorporator of The North Caldwell Recreation Foundation, which she formed to raise money for Liberty Park’s turf field. She, the Mayor, John and others, including resident Beth Tanelli, raised the first $80,000 for the field. As Council members, Cindy and John voted for the field and welcomed involvement by others into the Recreation Foundation.

FICTION: They voted for over $250,000 in financial benefits for themselves and the Mayor

FACT: The truth can be found recorded in multiple town council meeting minutes and can be found prominently in the budget summary, which is available and open to all residents.

Here are the facts: The entire Council voted unanimously for the town budgets for each year, which included a health benefit to several Council members, for which they each contribute over 50%. The 2020 budget reflects a budgeted benefit of $48,000 divided between those members, and the actual 2020 figure is an aggregate of $37,448 divided among them.

Our opponents misled the public by inflating and adding up FIVE budgeted yearly sums to convince voters that this sum was for one year. When asked by residents as to proof that there are $250,000 in benefits, our opponents came clean and said it was for five years.

FICTION: Cindy and John voted for development at Green Brook Country Club

FACT: They did not vote in favor of development; rather, they voted to limit the zoning and density for Green Brook, if ever developed, and settled the lawsuit, which thereby protected the whole town’s zoning from builder’s remedy lawsuits.

  • Without the settlement of the lawsuit in connection with mandated low and moderate income housing by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), developers could develop anywhere in town without regard for our zoning laws. Their vote made NC immune from such lawsuits.
  • Santomauro and Chiaia worked with the North Caldwell School Board prior to the settlement to ensure consensus. 
  • It must also be noted that the North Caldwell Planning Board, an independent body from the Council, reviewed, commented on, and voted to approve the inclusionary overlay zone for Green Brook Country Club prior to the Council’s vote on that zone.
  • If the club could not succeed as a profitable golf business, the owner would have to apply to our local Planning Board for approvals, like anyone else. 
  • Based on the settlement, voted on by the Council, construction would have little to no impact on the schools because the zoning approved in the court settlement limits development to primarily senior restricted housing. Bonus: The NC school board estimated only 24 new students if this development occurs. Hence, NC will not need new elementary schools.
  • Even candidate Floria Calori acknowledges that what the council negotiated for GBCC was “a good deal” for North Caldwell. Hear it in his own words at the audio link below: Listen Here
  • Santomauro and Chiaia are actively working on multiple options to keep GBCC as open space and to save the Club from development.

FICTION: They allowed spotty cell phone service for years

FACT: Cindy and John have completed a multi-year effort and study (which was not paid for by the town) and are currently in negotiation to have new cell service installed on town property that will eliminate the dead zones. 

Bonus: North Caldwell will be paid rent for the use of the space for the new cell antennas.

FICTION: North Caldwell did not even bother to get an appraisal before buying Walker’s Pond.

FACT: Of course, North Caldwell got an appraisal (in fact, it got two—one in 2013 and one in 2015 by Mark Hendriks, and the Walker family got one as well by Welsh Appraisal)

  • This lie just shows the lack of historical knowledge, the lack of research and the willingness by our opponents to spread lies without doing any homework or maybe they don’t even care because it does not suit their agenda.
  • Council President Santomauro and Councilman John Chiaia are both experienced attorneys and to assert that they would not have gotten an appraisal or that the town administration would guess at an appropriate purchase price is ridiculous. They have now stopped twisting the facts and have gone into full fabrication mode. 

FICTION: The town did no weather studies to see whether purchasing the pond for ice skating made sense.

FACT: The pond was not purchased for the sole purpose of ice skating in town. Ice skating is the nostalgic part of the restoration, especially to residents that have skated there in the past.  We purchased the pond to save it from high density development, to restore the beautiful pond and to make it a park for the town to enjoy. Significantly, the dredging will restore the natural detention basin which serves to improve the town’s storm-water management with valuable added capacity from the pond. Walker’s Park enhances North Caldwell’s Recreation Department because it presents activities that all residents may enjoy.

FACT: Cindy and John have made their campaign about their ideas to make NC a better place. This rebuttal is only necessary because of the repeated misleading claims of the opposition. We regret that polarizing politics have been introduced to North Caldwell.

We ask North Caldwell to focus on our record of success and ideas for the future. Namely, we have had a zero percent tax increase in five of the last eight years and NC has been ranked the #1 place to live and raise a family for the past three consecutive years. If re-elected, Cindy and John will continue this tradition and plan to eliminate cell phone dead zones in town, complete Walker’s Park restoration and keep Green Brook Country Club an open space. For full details, please review our website.

If you love North Caldwell, support our record of accomplishments, and you want to keep your taxes low, vote for the experience and dedicated leadership of Cindy Santomauro and John Chiaia.