CHESTER, N.J. – It’s all about relationship building for Aura Dunn. Since being in the state Assembly in 2019, it’s been her goal to bring together municipal leaders to discuss issues and concerns affecting constituents in Legislative District 25.
And then Covid happened.
But with the pandemic social distancing waning, Dunn was finally able to make that meeting a reality. Wanting to learn more about the towns she is entrusted to serve, on Friday, she met with both Republican and Democrat mayors who she currently represents, and who she will represent when the new district map takes effect next year, to discuss the issues facing their towns.
“The things that are going well will be the same, whether it’s Morristown or West Milford. But the challenges these mayors encounter will likely be unique, and that’s what I wanted to hear,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “I would rather be proactive than reactive. Meeting in this friendly, relaxed environment where we were free to talk helped me gain a deeper appreciation of the people and places I have the honor of representing.”
The purpose of Dunn’s meeting was not only to meet the mayors of the Morris and Passaic counties municipalities in her current and future districts, but to connect those mayors with officials from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Department of Community Affairs, the state Economic Development Authority and state Department of Environmental Protection. Each agency provided informational material about resources available to municipalities, and fielded any questions the mayors had.
Mayors posed questions about the 2004 Highlands Protection and Planning Act, legislation that aims to preserve open space and protect drinking water and affects all of LD25. Concerns were also raised about the infamous S2 – the school funding formula – as well as how the new pension and benefits rate hikes for state public employees will impact municipalities’ bottom lines.
Dunn said the mayors and agency representatives praised the meeting, calling it an example for other elected state officials to follow.
“This to me is an example of putting aside any political differences and talking together to do what we’re all here to do, which is serve the residents we represent,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “Democrat or Republican, these mayors shared with me what their towns need, and now I can better serve them in Trenton. This is just the first of many such meetings I plan on hosting.”
Dunn currently represents Bernardsville, Boonton, Boonton Township, Chester Borough, Chester Township, Denville, Dover, Mendham Borough, Mendham Township, Mine Hill, Morris Township, Morrisville, Mount Arlington, Mountain Lakes, Netcong, Randolph, Rockaway Borough, Roxbury, Victory Gardens, Washington Township, and Wharton.