We begin our Meet the Mayor series with Sandra Haimoff, the Mayor of Millburn Short Hills Township. We recently spoke with Sandy, as she informally is known, about Millburn Short Hills Real Estate and many other topics. Her lifelong service to the community is indeed remarkable.
And fortunate for our town, she follows in a long line of unheralded but distinguished Township Committee members, including Ralph Batch, Tommy Thomas, Maureen Ogden and, immodestly, my Dad, John Navin.
But before you read Sandy’s Q & A, listen to this short audio clip of the Mayor speaking about the superb Millburn-Short Hills Township public school system. Her interest, passion and intelligence is on full display.
And here follows our interview with the Mayor:
When did you move to Millburn-Short Hills?
I have lived in Millburn since I was 17 years old. My parents moved here and bought a home on Greenwood Drive in South Mountain. I met my husband who is a practicing dentist in Millburn. After we married we moved to White Oak Ridge Road where we built our own home and where I still live.
What makes Millburn-Short Hills attractive to you?
So much comes to mind. The town and community offers so much. The school system is the best. And as I remember, we were a young married couple just starting out that, like so many others, hoped to have children. We were attracted by the quality of the local schools.
Of course we liked the access to NYC. We had a subscription to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and it is easy to visit NYC without living in the city. I was very impressed with the Recreation Department. Our three daughters learned to swim here and got certification in lifesaving.
And it is beautiful. You have Taylor Park, Gero Park, Cora Hartshorn Arboretum, Old Short Hills Park, and the gem of all gems, the State Theater, the Paper Mill Playhouse. So if you don’t feel like going into New York, you can go to the Paper Mill where most productions are the equivalent to Broadway.
On the Millburn Township School System:
My first community activity involved the schools. We have three daughters, and when my oldest daughter began school, I was tired of talking to the diapers. I looked for something that would provide me with flexibility. And I joined the PTA, now the PTO. Over the years, I have done everything from run the Strawberry Festival to serving as the Township School Board’s President.
So I know the school system well. And Millburn Township has one of the best school systems I dare say in the entire nation. The teachers are outstanding. Look at the number of courses the school offers, including AP courses. The personal attention given to each child is superb, including the support staff available for students.
The cooperation of parents in working with the school remains strong. And of course the students themselves. They are committed to learning and want to do a good job. They recognize this is the first step towards their adult life.
How is the Township governed?
We have five members on the Township Committee. It is considered a “weak” mayor because the populace does not elect the mayor. They elect the five members of the Township Committee. Every January at the reorganization meeting the five members elect the mayor and the deputy mayor.
Our Township Committee makes policy. But we have a business administrator. And it is his job to oversee the day-to-day workings of the Township. He is overall the head. Like the CEO of a Company. He is in charge of all the supervisors of the departments, who in turn are in charge of all of the department workers.
On Millburn Township’s Vibrant Downtown.
Our Downtown has wonderful eclectic, specialty stores. Given the Short Hills Mall, the downtown can not have big box anchor stores. So we have interesting specialty stores. Stores that you will not find at the Short Hills Mall with unique things, such as Shala or Molly Too.
And because of the Paper Mill and the demand for it, we also have superb restaurants in town. I was Downtown Saturday night for dinner and then went to the Paper Mill Playhouse. I thought I was on Broadway at High Noon. The Town was bustling. It was crowded, it was vibrant – and that is what this Town is all about. And yet you can drive up the street or down the street and find peace and quiet and solace in your home surrounded by trees in a very suburban setting
What challenges does Millburn-Short Hills face?
We face the same challenges that every community in New Jersey and in the nation probably faces. But we are in a better position than most.
For example, we have always had a pay as you go policy. Our debt service is extremely low. We also plan ahead. We knew we were going to privatize recycling because we had investigated, checked it, realized it was a big financial savings. We will be saving $800,000 a year. So what we did in the past year or so, when a DPW worker retired, we did not hire another one. And then when we went to privitization on January 1, we did not have to lay off one worker. So the morale among Township workers remains good. This contrasts with many other communities.
I love Millburn. I like working with people and attempting to resolve problems. Millburn was wonderful to my husband, myself and my daughters growing up.
Click below to hear the recorded audio interview with our Mayor.