EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another one of our “Sunday Conversations,” a question and answer interview with a prominent Morris County person. This week, we feature Gina Genovese, the former mayor of Long Hill Township, who is the executive director of a non-profit group, Courage to Connect N.J., which is trying to reduce the cost of local government in New Jersey by merging municipalities. Genovese, 51, is a lifelong resident of New Jersey and a former professional tennis player.
Q: You have been a mayor and also a candidate for the state Senate in 2007, how did you move on from those activities to what you are doing now?
A: As a local elected official, after about two years, I realized the burden on 3,100 households in Long Hill. They had to pay for a police department a DPW, etc. and I just started to see that Long Hill Township should perhaps not exist by itself, that it would be a better town if we had more economies of scale to capture and if that happened, it would be a way to address the local property tax issue in New Jersey. That’s not to say our police department and DPW were not great; we had 3,100 people paying for it. I started to ask a lot of questions, a lot of questions about municipal aid. I started to inquire about the size of towns and I started to look into it. I discovered that shared services is perhaps a step, but that really wasn’t going to remedy the situation that New Jersey was facing. I said this is not the way to go; the way to go is to strengthen our local government.