December 27, 2012 at 8:03 AM
MADISON, NJ - After living in Madison for nearly two decades, Ben Wolkowitz decided to take his dedication to the community to the next level and in November, was elected to Borough Council. He will be sworn in on Jan. 1 at the reorganization meeting.
This was Wolkowitz’s first time running for elected office and he admitted he was a bit anxious, but his running mate Astrie Ballie, who had been on council before, calmed his nerves. He and Ballie ran on a platform of transparency between the council and residents. He said local politics shouldn’t be about Republicans or Democrats, but about what’s best for the people.
Over the past two years, he attended several council meetings and felt the public wasn’t being adequately listened to. He also has had a keen interest in environmental issues taking place in Madison.
“I don’t object to people disagreeing with me. In fact, I welcome that,” he said.
However, what finally motivated him to put his hat in the political ring was the treatment Borough Administrator Ray Cody received, who was fired and then rehired.
“Cody was one of the best employees the town ever had,” Wolkowitz said. “I just thought this is not right.”
Wolowitz said his background in business and finance and his involvement in the Borough will help him succeed as a councilman. He was on the Sustainable Madison committee, the Environmental Commission and is a longtime member of the Madison Rotary.
He spent several years in Washington, D .C. working for a research group at the Federal Reserve Board, was a managing director at Morgan Stanley for 16 years in Manhattan, and after retiring in 2000, he opened a consulting business, which he ran for a decade.
A native of Jackson Heights, Queens, Wolkowitz said he really enjoys living in Madison. Its beautiful downtown and close knit community is wonderful, he said. Furthermore, he admires the outreach the community is doing in supporting Union Beach with their recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
“It just speaks a lot for what the town is all about,” he said. “It’s really a very special place.”
Strategic planning is key to Madison's future, he said. He hopes to help change the Borough's current path in a positive way.
“I’d like to see Madison with a plan for the future that people can buy into,” he said. “I don’t see that right now.”