2023 Candidate Information
Municipality: Chatham Borough
My family and I moved to Chatham Borough nearly 22 years ago after falling in love with the town during a visit on the 4th of July. When our children were young I actively volunteered in our public schools in various roles, and in our church, serving as Assistant Minister, and being elected to serve two terms on the church council.
During and after the 2016 Presidential Election I felt the need to step up and get more involved in our borough government, believing that positive change in our country has to start at the local level. I first served on our Historic Preservation Commission, then ran for Borough Council in 2018. In that year, my running mate and I ran against two male Republican incumbents for seats on a Council that was entirely Republican and male, save for one female Council member. When we were elected, we became the first two female Democratic Council members in the history of Chatham. We were then re-elected in 2021 and I am currently serving in my second term.
When I first ran for office I had several goals: focusing on town-wide activities to bring a sense of community as well as invigorate our downtown, improvement of our parks and recreation amenities, and to make our town a more welcoming community, all while maintaining the fiscal health of the borough. Some accomplishments in my first five years in office include:
-Creating the first ever summer concert series which brings hundreds of residents and visitors into our downtown for each performance throughout the season.
-Overseeing the refurbishment of Garden Park, including resurfacing the town’s tennis courts, creation of two modern basketball courts, a new walking path around the park and canopied resting area. I also helped with the completion of the first phase of our Passaic riverside trail and accompanying historic kiosks.
-Co-creator of the Chatham Community Food Distribution. In order to address local food insecurity, we created the food distribution in the early days of the pandemic. Once a week, through donations and volunteers, we distribute fresh produce, milk, eggs, bread and personal care items to any families who are in need. We are still in operation and serve 50-60 families weekly.
-Overseeing the donation of the former Stanley Congregational Church to the Borough, and heading it’s transition to the Stanley Center, a community center, and event and performance venue.
-Reintroducing the “Flag Award” on our Historic Preservation Commission which recognizes the restoration efforts of a business or home. Assisting with the updating and digitizing of design guidelines for architects, contractors and property owners in the historic district.
-Establishing the first ever Borough Hall open house for residents, and Local Government Day for our elementary students, now both annual events. Helped establish regular office hours for the mayor and council, which had never been done.
-Assisting with the first ever Diversity Celebration in 2021. Musicians, dancers, poets, speakers and local leaders and clergy come together for an evening to celebrate the wide ranging cultures and traditions of the Chathams and Madison.
These are just some of what I’ve been able to bring to Chatham while in office, the town where we have raised our children and that I have grown to love. While we have a wonderful community, I believe that we always need to look for ways to improve life for our residents and to be prepared for the future.
Want to support Democrats in Chatham Borough? Consider donating to Carolyn Dempsey’s Campaign.