It is with great enthusiasm that I write this letter in support of my friend Greg Vartan’s quest for re- election to Summit’s Common Council in Ward 2. The fact that Greg has proven to be a capable and tireless performer in a demanding, unpaid position is no surprise to me, as I’ve seen it from another perspective.
I first met Greg in the summer of 2014 when I joined the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad. Greg, just 21, had been on the Squad for several years. He was a certified EMT, and while back home from college had resumed taking regular shifts. On some of my earliest emergency calls, when I was a 54-year-old trainee, Greg was the lead EMT on the crew. He was friendly, optimistic, energetic, compassionate, and a natural leader. He had an obvious gift for connecting with people of all ages, and genuine ability as a first responder.
In the years since, I’ve gotten to know Greg on a much deeper level. I appreciate his commitment to civility; it’s a breath of fresh air in today’s climate. While Greg has plenty of stomach for taking on difficult issues, he shuns the toxicity that often mars our civil discourse. During his first Council campaign, Greg did not retaliate when personally attacked. When he lost that election by a mere nine votes, he faced pressure to seek a recount. He declined, believing that Summit would be best served by moving on from that election.
This past weekend, all the sixth graders at Summit Middle School journeyed to Stillwater New Jersey for their annual Stokes weekend. The Squad sends an ambulance and two EMTs to this event, which was modified slightly this year due to Covid. As he has done for the past nine years, Greg drove the ambulance up to Stillwater and spent the weekend providing general oversight and first aid if needed. It’s a large, long-term commitment and a lot of responsibility, two things Greg seems to crave.
Greg is now 28, a member of the Council, progressing in his career, and very happily married. Yet he still spends nearly every Sunday night at our Squad, working and leading the 12-hour overnight shift. Some busy people might like to secure a full night’s sleep before confronting another long week of work and attending to other commitments. Greg willingly puts himself in a position to be awakened at any time, and occasionally to confront circumstances that can be physically grueling and emotionally draining. He has done this throughout the pandemic as well, leading the Sunday crew through perilous times while helping to lead Summit through them as a Councilman.
Greg already has given so much to this City he loves. In doing so, he has gained valuable experience, developed an impressive command of the issues, and displayed even more enthusiasm for making Summit a better place to live and work. I urge the voters of Ward 2 to send this remarkable and selfless public servant to a second term.
Council President Marjorie Fox
I am pleased to write in support of three outstanding Common Council candidates—Councilmember-At-Large Beth Little, Ward 2 Councilmember Greg Vartan, and Ward 1 candidate Andy Minegar. All three are well-equipped to serve Summit: each has deep community knowledge, creative ideas, and a strong work ethic. I can tell you from experience that while it is easy to stand on the sidelines and “ask questions”—governing is more complicated. This team of candidates has the perfect combination: the ideas to improve our community, and the skills to develop and implement them.
When Beth and I ran for Council for the first time in 2017, we found that while various City committees addressed some of the issues affecting our downtown and neighborhood business districts, other issues languished because they didn’t fall neatly within the purview of any particular committee. Beth got right to work addressing that and proposed the consolidation of this function with the creation of the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), which works to identify policies that will create a business-friendly climate in Summit. As chair of the Finance Committee, Beth worked to make the EDAC a reality, not only developing the Committee’s framework but serving on it since its inception three years ago. Her vision will tangibly improve our neighborhood business districts. Beth’s attention to detail and penchant for research make her invaluable in the implementation of ideas throughout her roles on Council. For example, as current chair of the Capital Projects and Community Services Committee, Beth has been instrumental both in investigating what is needed for a successful dog park, and then turning this kernel of an idea—first conceived of by our late colleague Matt Gould—into a happy reality for our community.
A 4th generation Hilltopper, Greg’s deep roots in our community and his many ideas on how to improve it come directly from lived experience. For example, during the pandemic, Greg and Councilmember Susan Hairston, as members of the Council’s Safety and Health Committee, identified the need to strengthen mental health and social services within our community. Greg tapped his eleven years of experience as an EMT on the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad to drill down on ways to address this need. After he observed that the Squad was consistently responding to multiple calls made by a very small number of residents, his research confirmed that in a 26-month period, just 14 residents made up more than 10% of the 4,000 calls handled by the First Aid Squad. Each of those 405 calls also included a police response. Based on this important data, the Safety Committee worked to put in place a no-cost contract with Bridgeway Behavioral Health Services, which will provide mental health and social services to the residents who are repeat users of emergency care. This should lead to improved outcomes for these individuals, while lessening the burden on the First Aid Squad and Police resources.
Andy’s broad experience—he has a background in strategic planning and information technology and will soon complete a Masters Degree in Public Administration—will be a critical addition to Council. Andy often points out that his work as an administrator at Seton Hall University is relevant to a Council position because a university is very much like a small city. His unique skill set will be extremely useful both in finding efficiencies and making our government services more user-friendly. One of Andy’s many ideas—creating a single online platform for all City services (rather than requiring residents to create several different accounts on different platforms) will both simplify the process for our residents while potentially delivering long-term cost savings to the City. Andy’s ability to use technology to improve delivery of City services and communication with residents would be a wonderful outcome for our community.
Given the unique and pressing challenges posed to our community—and therefore to Common Council—in these last few years, it’s vitally important to our continued success that we elect leaders who possess the wide-ranging skill sets and broad experience to nimbly navigate the complexities of the job. I have no doubt that if you cast your votes for Beth Little, Greg Vartan and Andy Minegar, our community will be well-positioned to continue our successful path forward well into the future.
Councilman David Naidu
In many ways, running for office is like applying for a job. Just as an employer looks at prospective employees’ experience and skills, voters look at those qualities in candidates for office. But, evaluating candidates for elected office also raises other questions -- such as, do they have specific ideas for how to improve the community and do they have the initiative and perseverance to implement them?
I have worked with six of the seven Council candidates to greater and lesser degrees over the years. There’s no question in my mind that, based on the above criteria, the right candidates for Council are Beth Little, Andy Minegar, and Greg Vartan. My Council colleague, Lisa Allen, is running unopposed, and I wish her the best.
Beth Little’s impact can be observed every time someone walks through our downtown. In 2020, she was intimately involved in numerous conversations with restaurateurs and retailers to make sure they survived even before the Governor allowed reopening. Beth took the initiative to get State officials to facilitate the expansion of restaurants’ liquor license onto the street and sidewalk. This, in part, is the reason that Summit was the first municipality in New Jersey (to my knowledge) to close a street—Maple Street—for outdoor seating.
Greg Vartan also showed initiative during the pandemic. As the Council liaison to the Summit Housing Authority and as a volunteer EMT, he understood the vulnerability of senior residents, and took on a key role in making sure that senior housing building residents were taken to get their vaccinations. This was only part of the overall initiative and partnership with Atlantic Health System that resulted in more than 40,000 vaccinations being administered at the Community Center. No other neighboring community did what Summit did.
Andy Minegar, unlike Beth and Greg, has not served on Council for the past few years. However, I think he brings a skill set that is needed in City government. With experience in strategic planning at Seton Hall University, he has been involved with departments that confront issues similar to those faced by municipalities—including parking, security, buildings and grounds maintenance, capital expenditures, and technology. He is also completing his Masters in Public Administration, and the knowledge he has gained through that program can be directly applied to city services.
Andy steps up to help. As an example, just prior to the pandemic, he converted a hike with his brother into an opportunity to fundraise for underprivileged kids. He took the initiative and asked a non-profit if he could raise money for them. He hiked over 100 miles on the Arizona Scenic Trail and raised thousands of dollars.
In seeing Andy talk to residents, he is soft-spoken, he has a sense of modesty, he is thoughtful, and he is hardworking. In Andy, what you see is what you get.
When done right, local leadership is not simply listening to the loudest voices, but also to the softest voices, those with access and those without, those who know you and those you meet for the first time. No one is going to agree with every decision. Solutions require compromise. Advocates see their own position as the correct one. Being on Council requires a broader perspective and determining what is good for a city of 22,000 people. In Andy, Beth and Greg, Summit will be well-served by people who are trying to do good.
Gloria M Ron-Fornes
I enthusiastically support Summit’s incumbent Ward 2 Councilman, Greg Vartan.
While we all know that life is ever changing, sometimes we lull ourselves into believing that we can keep things the same and exactly how we want them to be. Over the last several years mother-nature, politics and probably even our own personal lives, have proven that theory to be false. What has proven to be true is that we are all in constant change and that change brings about the need for specific skills of problem solving, critical thinking, listening to understand vs. just respond, planning for the worst and hoping for something less than the worst, responsibility, integrity and leadership. Our current common council has demonstrated their ability, willingness and commitment to utilizing these skills for the betterment of our community – keeping us stable during massive change.
In Greg’s public service to the Summit community over the many years, he has continually strived to leverage these skills. Greg has demonstrated his determination in solving Summit’s challenges (e.g., most recently the pandemic and the hardship to our residents and businesses) and anticipating future needs (e.g., the need for a new firehouse, supporting Full Day Kindergarten for all Summit children, protecting our property values and expanding our commercial tax base in order to lessen the burden on homeowners) while keeping his eye on the financial impact. He and his colleagues have given us sound budgets and even a tax decrease for the coming year – all while maintaining the services we all cherish in Summit and continually looking towards the future. As a fourth generation resident and a product of the Summit Public Schools, Greg understands Summit and while adapting to change and helping Summit grow, he ensures our unique character is maintained. Greg has broad well-informed and practical views and is always looking for ways to improve our city. He is easy to approach, does his research to understand different perspectives, and is always willing to take feedback and advice.
I know Greg has been knocking on Ward 2 doors and has probably been to all homes already, but if you have not had an opportunity to meet and speak with him I encourage you to attend one of the many events which fellow Summit residents are hosting for him. Give Greg a call or email him – he is always responsive and I know will be willing to sit and listen to your priorities, concerns and questions – even if you are not in Ward 2! Greg is direct - you always know where he stands on issues as he communicates regularly his “Vartan Views” and responds with facts and truths to our neighbors concerns and comments on social media.
Greg is fully committed to Summit and to public service and has proven it throughout his over 10 years on the Summit First Aid Squad as a volunteer EMT and his participation on the planning board and the environmental commission prior to joining the Council. As he puts it, “if I have an opportunity to help others, I should”. I hope you will join me in endorsing and voting for Greg Vartan as our Ward 2 representative to the Summit Common Council.
My “To Do” list for Summit’s Council Members is short: invest the time to learn from others; seek solutions; be accountable; and be compassionate. Greg Vartan checks every box.
I first met Greg several years ago when he asked to talk with me about full day kindergarten (FDK). For those who have forgotten or are new to Summit, universal, free FDK was the subject of debate in Summit for over a decade before being approved in 2019. I sat on the Board of Education during many years of the debate and had a number of conversations with community members who wanted to know more about the topic. I assumed Greg was hoping for a quick primer from me on FDK as he conducted his first campaign for a Council seat. I was wrong.
Greg did his homework before calling me. He took the time to learn about the kindergarten options under consideration and the cost, space and access implications of each. He was prepared, which allowed us to have a fact and data-based exchange of ideas on what might be best for Summit. Ours was not the only such conversation Greg would have. He sought out people on both sides of the issue and he didn’t limit his outreach to those who could potentially vote for him. (I, for example, live in Ward 1.) In short, Greg invested the time to learn.
Fortunately, Greg’s commitment to preparation is accompanied by an equally strong commitment to finding solutions. Serving on Council is not an academic exercise. The issues that Council grapples with have real consequences for the people who live and work in Summit. It is not enough to “issue spot.” A good Council Member must also “issue solve.” One example of Greg’s solution orientation can be found in his consideration of the Summit Park Line proposal. The potential impact of the Park Line on the Summit communities adjacent to it has been under discussion since the project was first proposed. Born and raised in Summit – notably, in Ward 2 where the Park Line is located – Greg fully appreciates these concerns. However, rather than serving as a roadblock or constant critic, Greg has used his knowledge to ask insightful questions and make helpful suggestions, all to ensure that the full range of views on the project are voiced, understood and addressed. By taking this constructive approach, Greg has served both his constituents and the project.
Greg’s leadership abilities were evident early on. He was President of his class at Summit High School as well as the youngest and longest-serving President of the Student Body at Lycoming College. Greg used these platforms to refine his skill at one of the hardest aspects of leadership: accountability. Want to know what Greg thinks about an issue or why he voted as he did at Council? Reach out to him directly or go to “Vartan’s Views” on his website. He will tell you exactly where he stands.
That brings me to compassion. Summit residents are exceptionally generous with their time and money. Greg is a product of this environment. In addition to his civic responsibilities, he has spent over a decade as an EMT with Summit’s First Aid Squad. EMT work can be physically demanding, emotionally draining and thoroughly satisfying – sometimes all with the same patient. Some carrying school, job and Council responsibilities would find it overwhelming and step back. Not Greg. As he puts it, “I was raised in Summit to believe that if you have the opportunity to help others, you probably should.”
Greg Vartan models excellence on Council. If you live in Ward 2, I hope you will support him with your vote.
I write to offer the strongest support for an accomplished incumbent, Summit Councilman Greg Vartan, running for re-election in Ward 2.
As Greg’s remarks last week on ongoing power outages attest, Greg is an indefatigable fighter for all of our concerns, his advocacy tethered to full engagement in our community dialog. On the literal hot topic this summer: When Summit has fallen dark, Greg is often the first to respond on the Facebook page dedicated to neighborhood blackout reports, among the most visible elected officials since the page’s Superstorm Sandy launch. Greg investigates while remaining focused on the bigger picture: He seeks to educate, knowing informed citizens are best armed with facts -- a reality check -- not facile promises. His published compendium of questions and answers is the single best précis of problems and avenues to solution that I've read on this debate; Greg cuts through oft-repeated mythology about culpability and scapegoating. His explanation of property ownership issues reminded us that sweeping and often cost prohibitive grid corrections can come down to property rights vs civic responsibility. We desperately needed forthright analysis of where we stand and got it. Greg’s bluntly stated truths are now an invaluable starting point for neighbors' discussions with one another. But he’s not merely summarizing; Greg also offers concrete specifics: short-, mid-, and long-term proposals.
Yet this is only a recent example of Greg’s genuinely immersive participation in Summit’s challenges and their resolution. The best metaphor for his literal hands-on investment is his ten years as a volunteer EMT on Summit’s First Aid Squad. Let that sink in: a young man with a full decade of life-saving experience, accomplished while simultaneously finishing his education, starting a career, serving on Common Council. In the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greg was in the front lines, working tirelessly to respond to unprecedented medical crises, and, in real time guiding fellow citizens – again, by educating us. When we needed updates on protocols and eventually vaccines, Greg was a go-to. As an EMT, Greg was among the first in Summit to be vaccinated, modeling behavior for his generation and community, behavior that we now know plays a crucial role in ensuring a return to normalcy.
Don’t take anyone’s word for his clarity, both civil and moral. Read his 30-month update on his time in office; and his condemnation of the politicization of public health. Greg Vartan develops responsible policy by relying on consultation with experts, not personal opinion.
Those who run for public office are the sum total of their qualifying experiences and life choices. I’ve known Greg Vartan since he was at Lawton C. Johnson Middle School, witnessed his professional development and acquisition of civic prowess and accountability. His tenure as councilman has been marked by compassion, communication, and discipline. I invite everyone in Ward 2 to vote for this fiercely devoted rep. He deserves the chance to continue his highly responsive public service, and we deserve an advocate as steadfast and impassioned as Greg.
I’ve heard that in local politics, you vote for a person rather than a party. If that’s true, then Greg Vartan should win everyone’s vote for Ward 2 Council. His active engagement in making Summit the best it can be is carried out with thoughtfulness, energy and a genuine concern for addressing multiple points of view.
Greg first knocked on my door two years ago, and I was genuinely impressed by this young guy working hard to reach voters and hear what was on our minds, while making sure we knew both his name and his commitment to Summit. When Greg lost that election—by 9 votes—he didn’t put the town through any rancorous recount, and he didn’t withdraw from Summit life to recover. Instead, he volunteered for the town’s Planning Board; he became a Trustee of the Volunteer First Aid Squad where he’s been an active volunteer for 8 years (he’s still responding to medical emergencies between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. every Sunday night); and he currently serves as the Planning Board’s liaison to our Environmental Commission.
Now, he’s running again—with as much energy and commitment as ever, if not more. When I talk to Greg, he listens. When he talks, his views are broad, well-informed, and practical. I’ve lived in Summit for 23 years, and I’m happy to trust Greg with the next 23 years of our town’s progress. I urge you to check out his Facebook page, Vartan’s Views, and get to know Greg for yourself. I think you’ll be as excited about electing him to our Common Council as I am.
Matthew Gould, Summit Common Council Member - Ward 1
I encourage you to vote for Greg Vartan for Summit Council, Ward 2 this November.
As a first-year Council Member in Summit, I have had a deep look into how our city runs in 2018. We need someone like Greg to join us on Council to continue the progress we’ve made. Greg embodies all of the qualities I seek out in a candidate - he’s hard working, selfless, and thoughtful. His grasp of the issues that are important to Summit are strong. He inspires people. And he listens to our residents - he’s been knocking on doors and hearing people’s concerns for months.
I firmly believe Greg is the right person for the job and I hope I get the chance to serve with him.
I strongly believe that Greg Vartan will be a healthy addition to the Summit Council. I have know Greg for a number of years and I am very impressed with his positive, can do attitude. When he shakes your hand he exudes healthy energy. This is the approach he brings to everything he does. People respond well to Greg and this triggers inclusive dialogue, which is essential to leading Summit to continue to grow and improve.
I am also impressed with how Greg is deeply involved in our community, from his active involvement as a Summit Volunteer EMS, his role as the Environmental Commision liaison, and his role as a member of the Planning Board. These experiences demonstrate his commitment to our community and they prepare him to join the Council with valuable knowledge he can bring to governing our City.
Finally, I think Greg brings good ideas that will be beneficial to Summit. I am impressed with his views on expanding our commercial tax base, listening to our residents' input to the master plan so we focus on what's important to us, while retaining fiscal responsibility.
This is why I am voting for Greg Vartan for Summit Council and hope you will too.
This November 6th, Summit has the opportunity to elect two great candidates for Summit’s Common Council: Council President David Naidu (Ward 1) and life-long resident Greg Vartan Ward 2.
Greg is a 4th generation resident who has given back to Summit at every stage of his life. During his years at Summit High school, Greg was a lifeguard at our YMCA; and a member of the first class of the Summit Police Youth Academy which I had the pleasure of graduating while serving as Mayor. Currently, Greg, appointed by Mayor Nora Radest, serves on the Summit Planning Board. Beginning as an auxiliary member of the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad, Greg’s service continues today as a full squad member.
Greg has demonstrated his passion and caring for our town, and I believe he will continue to be a tremendous advocate for our residents and our community and with the county and state. Greg is well-qualified to take on this important leadership role as Ward 2 Councilman.
When it comes to current Council President and Ward 1 candidate David Naidu, I am filled with admiration for what he has accomplished in his first term on Council. David has been one of the most effective Council members to ever sit up on the Council dais, working smart and creatively to keep the municipal tax rate flat while lowering the capital budget by 22%. David has also demonstrated a commitment to reach out to the community by engaging in some innovative programs, such as Council on the Road, which brings Council members to residents in their own neighborhoods to better listen to their concerns and ideas. David also publishes and widely disseminates the Council agenda before each meeting, using the City’s website and social media. He makes sure the agenda is clear, understandable and transparent so that our residents know what is going on when it comes to the business of the city. David wants and respects citizen input.
I can think of no more effective team then David Naidu and Greg Vartan to lead and serve on the Summit Common Council.
Please remember to VOTE NOVEMBER 6TH.
Gloria M Ron-Fornes
“Para atras ni para coger impulso!” (Loosely translated to “don’t go backwards not even to gain momentum”). These are words I heard over and over again in my home. Life is about moving forward, about learning and making decisions based on new information while rooted in values and integrity.
As I look at my life in our beloved city of Summit, I have seen progress. I also understand the discomfort that some have with change and so it’s important for any candidate to listen to all the citizens he/she will serve.
Greg Vartan is a listener. He listens to understand not merely to respond. He listens and learns. Greg has served the city in many ways already – Summit’s First Aid Squad (EMT), Planning Board, liaison to Environmental Commission – and he understands the needs of the citizens of Ward 2 as he has lived here all his life. But what continues to impress me the most is his willingness to sit and listen and to shape his decisions based the changing needs of the current and future population.
Greg is also inclusive and wants to leverage the energy, passion, talent, diversity and commitment of the people of Summit to help him govern. He believes in a proactive governing body that includes the voices and volunteer power of those being served.
As an “almost empty nester”, I also think about how life will change for my husband and I in Summit. I know Greg thinks about that too as he has parents and grandparents still living in Summit. Greg’s commitment to the downtown, to opportunities for creativity and entertainment, and to the economic development of our city is important to me as it should be to all of us.
Greg, recently engaged, is looking to Summit for his future family too. So I know that he will keep a good watch on our schools, which impacts all of us.
Because voting is personal and because Greg delivers on the values that I hold deeply - active listening and transparency, progress, and integrity– I am casting my vote in November for Greg Vartan as our next Ward 2 Councilman.
Planning for Summit’s long-term development requires a vision for downtown Summit – Greg Vartan is the candidate whose age and stage in life gives him the proverbial “skin in the game” for a better Summit, not just for today, but for tomorrow as well.
Recently engaged, Greg and his fiancé, Megan, have made a commitment to Summit and its future. A fourth-generation Hilltopper and lifelong Summit resident, Greg has shared with me his desire in raising a family in Summit and the challenges involved given the high cost of living and property taxes. The biggest lever to reducing residential property taxes in Summit is to increase non-residential rateables – namely commercial property in downtown Summit – expanding the rateable pie so that that homeowners pay a relatively smaller fraction of the overall tax levy. Greg shares this vision and is committed to prudent stewardship of Summit’s fiscal resources, not because he is a homeowner today, but because he will be one in the near future.
Indeed, Greg embodies a unique opportunity to represent the interests of three generations of Summit residents in the same ward – his parents and grandparents continue to live in Ward 2. Retaining Senior Citizens and empty nesters who have contributed greatly to Summit’s character and experiences is vital for both social and fiscal reasons. Seniors support our community without a commensurate use of the school system. Greg can speak directly to their experiences in a way that supports Summit’s overall social and fiscal cohesiveness.
Greg’s service on the planning board has given him an understanding of the function and form of government. He has shown his commitment to service to Summit, serving for more than 10 years on the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad. Greg’s innovative approach to campaigning, including his “Vartan views” which utilizes Facebook’s video platform to share his take on Council events and agenda items has personalized the process of government. His voice and perspective is one that is needed on Council.
Please vote for Greg Vartan on November 6, 2018 for Summit Council Ward 2.
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