ARTICLE: POSTED December 23, 2011
SCALERA TO RUN FOR NUTLEY COMMISSION
First Announcement of Fred Scalera's Commissioner Bid
NUTLEY, NJ – Former State Assemblyman and sitting Nutley Board of Education trustee Fred Scalera announced on Thursday, Dec. 15, he's running for the Nutley Board of Commissioners.
He joins the incumbents, sans Mayor Joanne Cocchiola, and challengers John Cafone and Ken Reilly.
"This town really is my life, ever since I attended that first Board of Commissioners meeting when I was 14-years-old," a member of the Nutley junior firefighters, Scalera told the Sun about his decision. "I grew up with it as part of my life. I always thought someday I'll do this."
The running joke is he's held almost every position in the fire department over the years, volunteering at 18 as a firefighter, becoming the township's first fire marshall, eventually becoming deputy chief, then returning as volunteer chief.
"I'm excited to [run for the commission], I love my roots; I've always said Nutley is an oasis." While the township has modernized, its goals and shared beliefs, like a focus on volunteerism, haven't changed, he said.
Scalera was elected to the Nutley Board of Education last April 2011. If elected as commissioner, he said he would resign from the Board of Education. He said he would not want to hold a seat that otherwise might be filled by another passionate resident, eager to contribute to the community.
His experience with the school district, and various branches of public safety and the State Legislature, has given him valuable experience and perspective he intends to bring to the office, especially for "big decisions" on the horizon, he said. One of those decisions could re-zoning Roche property along Kingsland Street, he said.
A top priority will be continuing dialogue between the education and municipal boards to find shared services, "to work closer and foster the relationship that's begun." While the budgets are separate, they "come from the same taxpayer pot," he said.
"I enjoy helping people; that's what it's always been about," he said, adding he doesn't have one department in mind to serve, especially since "all five [commissioners] have the same voice."
Scalera served on the New Jersey Assembly from 2003 to November 2010, when he resigned to take a position with Alcatel-Lucent as director of Public Safety Strategies. Around the time he joined the private sector, people started asking him if he intended to run for the commission, but he didn't want to run against what he felt were capable members, Scalera said.
"I'm all for good government, and these five commissioners all grew up here," he said. While he doesn't approve of their decisions 100 percent of the time, he has supported their leadership and re-election efforts, he said.
However, in early November, a friend advised him to "put his name out there" to run amid rumors that the mayor intended to step down. He decided not to make his announcement until the mayor made hers, and said he will continue to support the four incumbents.
CONTACT: Erin Rice (973-202-5444)