Why I am Running for Teaneck Council
By Keith Kaplan

Teaneck has been the only home my children have ever known. Eleven years ago when my wife and I moved here we saw and continue to see Teaneck as a community where our children would have a chance to grow up in a diverse neighborhood that shared our values.

My approach to public service was shaped by my parents, a public school teacher and, a nurse.  I saw how my parents always put the needs of their children and others first. While we may not have had the nicest clothes, the most toys, or the newest cars as compared to our neighbors, what my parents ensured was that we had was opportunity. My life experiences taught me what opportunity could enable, when a society puts the needs of others first. I’ve always felt the need to give back. As a teen, I joined the local volunteer First Aid and Rescue Squad to give back to my community, and  the sense of service to the community that started early in my life has continued to today

Currently, I’m serving my sixth year on the Teaneck Planning Board, the last three of which I have had the honor of serving Teaneck as secretary and then vice-chairman of the board.

My time on the Planning Board has taught me a lot about the value of cooperation in local government and working with others towards shared goals. I’ve had to articulate what I felt was an important issue for the community and to gain support to proceed. The abilities to reason and respectively discuss issues are among the most important skills I’ll bring to the town council.

I want to work towards forming a consensus and create workable solutions for our residents. One of the chief responsibilities of the Planning Board is to craft and update a Master Plan – a map for the future of the Township of Teaneck. I want to bring that vision to fruition.

Over the years, I’ve identified areas where the Township’s rules and regulations may be outdated. When I came across such rules and regulatory requirements, I successfully lobbied for changes. Still, there is more work to be done.

I have also been a commissioner on the Township’s Environmental Commission, a director of our local synagogue, and am currently a member of the Parks, Playgrounds and Recreation Advisory board. In addition, I serve as a Director on the board of the Teaneck Swim Club.

Standing up for what’s right:

Standing up for core beliefs is the foundation of good citizenship. From last July to present, I organized and spoke out at town council meetings against the animus-infused actions in Mahwah and surrounding towns directed against Jews from neighboring Rockland County. I enlisted and stood with the President of the Bergen County NAACP and our efforts received recognition from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Council on Islamic Relations and State / Local elected leaders. Bringing the community together in support of our shared values is one of the most important goals I would work towards as your representative.

In my professional life, I have been a law clerk for almost two decades at a leading international law firm. I’m responsible for reviewing and advising attorneys on rules and regulations, as well as keeping track of every aspect of complex cases throughout various courts.

I’m a resident of Teaneck and it’s my experiences as a resident that inform my positions on many issues. But I’m also acutely aware that others may have a different perspective. It’s important to listen before we act.

What I want to accomplish on council:

  1. Revise our code

I want to take a new and proactive approach to solving problems before us. As an example, when I submitted an application to the building department to merely replace the walkway in front of our home, I quickly found out about an onerous and unnecessary set of requirements for a survey of the property. I researched the issue, spoke with the building code enforcement officers, the township manager and councilmembers. After fully understanding the reasons the rule was implemented and why it was not necessary, I brought the issue to our council and succeeded in having the requirement eliminated from the Town code. I want to do this over and over again. I want to look at the parts of our code that once were necessary and are no longer applicable.

After sharing this story, I heard similar stories from residents like the elderly mother who couldn’t get an AC unit installed because the survey was beyond her budget to replace the slab of concrete it stood on. We all have our stories. I want to act on them.

  1. Help businesses succeed

Our business districts need help. We need a new vision for a new tomorrow — one that has a flourishing Cedar Lane and Teaneck Road. We cannot take the any section of our Township for granted.

The interpretation of our code, does not resemble the principles addressed when it was drafted many decades ago.  As a consequence, business owners are stymied, frustrated and regularly appeal denials for de-minimis issues, such as a sign having different color lettering or saying “Teaneck”. We need to revisit those provisions and bring them in line with their original purpose.

I fully support our Council’s zero increase municipal budget.  Local businesses drive our tax revenues.

We need voices that are able to work together and collaborate in a positive way to reach productive outcomes that benefit all of Teaneck.

  1. Transparency and communication

The Township has made great strides in opening up communication with the community, most recently with the Report It app. However, I feel we can build upon that initiative to open up government to the modern age. We should continue to explore opportunities to enable building department applications, license renewals and other requirements to be completed online through the Township’s web portal. I want to allow every resident to interact with government in an honest, open and civilized dialog.

In short, the skill sets from my professional life, coupled with my knowledge from Township organizations and boards makes me well suited for the tasks and requirements of a member of the Township Council.

I’m ready to serve!
Keith Kaplan