Meet the Livingston Township Council Candidates
Monday, August 11, 2014 • 6:55am
LIVINGSTON, NJ – This fall, Livingston voters will begin following the campaigns of seven individuals running for three town council seats for January 2015. Three council members are seeking reelection: Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro (I), Councilman Rudy Fernandez (D) and current Mayor Michael Rieber (R); while four new candidates join the race: Shawn Klein (D), Edward Meinhardt, (D) Peter Boockvar (R) and Kenneth Merber (R).
Independent: Deborah Shapiro
Deborah Shapiro is the president and chief executive officer of WFS Services, Inc., a hospital and physician business office outsourcing company. She has her B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University, and her MBA from Ohio State University. Deborah is active with her alma mater, having served as a member of the Fellowship Committee, Nominating Committee, Class Correspondent, Class President and College Reunion Chair. In addition, Shapiro has served as a member of the board of directors of the New Jersey chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association – a 1,400-member chapter of a 30,000-member national organization.
Shapiro was elected to the Town Council in 2011 and, as part of the Council, has served as the liaison with the Livingston Environmental Commission, Arts Council, Transportation Committee, Technology Committee, Diversity Committee, HCHY, and Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee.
She married her college sweetheart, Oliver Shapiro, and will soon celebrate her 35th wedding anniversary. She, Oliver, and her three sons, Zack, 27, Ozzie, 26, and Max, 24, moved to Livingston in 1998 and are members of Congregation Etz Chaim. Shapiro is currently running as an Independent candidate for Town Council on the Dollars and Sense platform – which is based on bringing sense to the tax dollars being spent in Livingston.
“Getting the message out that Livingston is good for business is important,” said Shapiro. Bringing business to Livingston improves our town’s bottom line – which improves life for all members of the community. And, keeping a lid on spending when revenues are down is key to keeping property taxes down – which brings new residents to our town. Fiscal responsibility and prudence – those are my watchwords. And, as the only woman currently running for Council, I also hope to serve as an inspiration for other rising young women looking to give back to the community.”
Rudy Fernandez has lived and owned a law practice in Livingston for almost 20 years. He is currently a member of the Livingston Town Council and served as mayor in 2011 and 2013.
In addition to his service on the council, Fernandez has served on the Planning Board, Library Board of Trustees, Business Improvement District committee, the Budget Advisory committee and the Economic Development Committee.
Fernandez is also an active Kiwanis Club member and has served on its board of directors and is currently serving his third term as New Jersey State Treasurer, managing the finances and budget of the New Jersey District of Kiwanis International. He has also been a member of the West Essex YMCA board since 1998, chair of the board, secretary of the board and has been chair of many of its committees.
In addition he has served on the Board of Directors of the Metro YMCA of the Oranges and on the board of directors of the Partnering Community Centers, Inc., a not-for-profit agency providing education, literacy training and recreational activities for disadvantaged children and their families in Newark.
Fernandez has lived in town with his wife, Pat, (also a very active member of the community) and his children, Rudy, 20, and Samantha, 15, and they are members of St. Philomena’s Church in Livingston.
Fernandez expressed that he will work to "ensure that Livingston is affordable for its residents while maintaining its unique character and high level of services, to be responsive to the needs and priorities of all of the township’s constituencies and to work collaboratively with local business and property owners to identify local solutions so that they can be successful.”
Shawn Klein was born at Saint Barnabas hospital and went to Livingston public schools and graduated from Livingston High School. Shawn has been involved with the town in many capacities, including the Vision 20/20 Committee, the Recycling and Reclamation Committee and the Livingston Zoning board of Adjustment. Recently Klein was elected to serve as vice-chairman of the Zoning board.
Klein is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist and Partner in Klein & Scannapiego MD PA, specializing in complex cataract surgeries and corneal disease, with offices in Roseland and Elizabeth. He teaches as a clinical assistant professor at Rutgers Medical School and graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.
He was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (now Rutgers) in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where he received his M.D. degree and then went on to complete his medical internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, which was followed by a residency in ophthalmology at the New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
Klein further specialized as a Fellow of Cornea and Refractive Surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois and is a member in good standing at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Now Klein and his wife, Cindy, are raising two young sons, Jack and Leo, in town. Shawn’s parents live in Livingston, as does his twin sister and her family. He and his family are members of Temple B’Nai Abraham.
"Growing up in Livingston has made me who I am. I owe a debt of gratitude to this town and I want to work hard to give Livingston the smart, efficient and creative government it deserves," said Klein.
Edward Meinhardt is a resident of Livingston that has been active in many facets of the community over time.
From 1999 through 2012, Meinhardt coached soccer for “Kinderkick-ers” and kids up to eighth grade for travel soccer. He also coached in the Livingston National Little League from 2001 to 2011, and the Livingston Recreational Basketball program (girls & boys) from 2003 to the present.
Meinhardt has also been a board member of the Livingston Soccer Club since 2005 and served as a Travel Committee member from 2008 to present, Field Scheduler from 2009 to present, and the club’s Registrar from 2007 to 2010. He held the post of Livingston Travel Soccer Manager from 2005 to 2010.
In addition, Meinhardt has served on the Livingston Zoning board of Adjustment and is a current member of the Livingston Sports Council Committee. He was raised in Short Hills and is a 1986 Boston University School of Management graduate, where he received a BS/BA degree in finance.
Meinhardt moved to Livingston in 1999 where he resides with his wife of 22 years, Elena, daughter Jillian, 19, (Livingston High School Class of 2013 and currently at the University of Maryland), and son Garrett, 16, (a junior at Livingston High School and a Livingston Lancer soccer goalie).
The Meinhardt families have been active members of Temple B’nai Abraham for four generations. Meinhardt himself was elected to serve two terms as President of the Congregation from 2009 to 2013 and served on the Temple Board of Trustees since 2001, was membership co-chair from 2001 to 2003, assistant secretary from 2005 to 2007, vice president from 2007 to 2009, and currently Ritual committee co-chair since 2013.
Meinhardt has been in sales throughout his adult life, starting with his family’s business, B. Meinhardt, Inc., until it was sold. He currently is National Director of Sales for Book Sox/Kimco Products in Paramus, NJ.
“I am running to ensure the future of our town and all the services provided to the entire community,” said Meinhardt. “I want to make sure my kids want to move back to Livingston to raise their family and have the wonderful experience they had growing up here.”
Mike Rieber is currently serving Livingston as Mayor and has been a member of the Livingston Council for three and a half years. He has also served as a member of the local library board, planning board, open space committee and green team.
Rieber lives in town with his wife Sarah of 10 years and his three young children. He is an award-winning orthopedic surgeon, local small business owner and adjunct professor at Seton Hall University.
“As Mayor, I have brought both parties together to make local government more open, accountable, friendly and affordable,” said Rieber. “We have slowed the growth of property taxes while enhancing many of the local services we offer our residents. I am running with Peter and Ken to ensure that tax dollars are spent efficiently and establish private-public partnerships with community stakeholders and small businesses to provide an even better quality of life for Livingston families and seniors with no cost to taxpayers.”
Peter Boockvar has over 20 years of experience in finance and currently serves as the chief market analyst and managing director at a leading economic research firm. He was tapped by CNBC to be a regular on-air contributor because of his expert knowledge of financial management and economic trends. He also has years of experience helping to manage retirements and college funds for others and said that he understands the tough decisions that families have been forced to make in uncertain economic times.
Boockvar graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.B.A. in Finance from George Washington University and currently volunteers as a board member for the university’s real estate and finance alliance which provides students with career guidance and job placement after they graduate.
Boockvar and his wife Shari live in Livingston and are the proud parents of their son Austin.
“I want to utilize my years of experience in finance to provide our community with cost-saving solutions that will provide tax relief to our residents and pay down our debt,” said Boockvar. “Our families save and plan for long-term priorities and they deserve a local government that lives by the same principles. Working with Mike and Ken, we are running to work with residents, small businesses and community leaders to develop a long-range plan for a brighter future for Livingston.”
Kenneth Merber is a longtime coach of Livingston youth sports who has dedicated teaching his athletes the importance of team work and dedication on and off the field. He has been an attorney for 25 years and has a background in contract bidding, negotiations, construction and labor law.
Merber is a partner in an international insurance law firm based out of New York City. In addition to his years of coaching baseball, basketball and soccer, he volunteers his time raising money to fight against Breast Cancer, Children’s Cancers and Parkinson’s disease through the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Cycle of Survival and the Valerie Fund.
Merber and his wife Sherry are the proud parents of a recent Livingston High School graduate and a current public high school student.
“As a longtime coach, I dedicated years to teaching our kids the importance of teamwork on and off the field,” said Merber. “Mike, Peter and I understand that solving the problems Livingston faces requires us to put partisanship aside and work together to fix them.”
“I am running to provide long-term, bi-partisan solutions to the problems we face and give our residents more ownership in planning our future. Regardless of party affiliation, we are all one team in Livingston and residents deserve a seat at the table in developing a fiscally responsible plan to make our town an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”