Author Archive

Letter of Endorsement for Lara Schlachter

October 14, 2022

TAPinto West Essex

By Jenifer Rainone

It is with conviction and pleasure that I write on behalf of Lara Janine Schlachter, candidate for North Caldwell Town Council. Lara, her husband, Ivan, and her two children, Addison and Weston, are pillars of our community in every way imaginable. My daughter, Carly, is the same age as Addison and has shared classes and activities with her for years, my son shares a grade level and classes with Weston, and, most importantly, Lara is Carly’s piano instructor. I have gotten to know the Schlachters, and Lara, specifically, on so many levels: as a fellow community member, a fellow mother, a beloved piano teacher, a class mom, a gifted artist, a fierce child advocate, and a dear friend.  In all areas, she has unfailingly impressed me with her characteristic nurturing demeanor, intelligent discourse, and, most of all, consistent willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty for our children and our beautiful town.

If you have ever been to one of the piano recitals hosted at her home, or one of the many at our beloved Notre Dame Church, you know that Lara doesn’t do anything halfway. From perfect programs, well-organized and themed song choices, and impassioned performances, I have witnessed Lara take the rough-around-the-edges piano student and turn them into a polished pianist. She can pull together an event that could rival Carnegie Hall with little time and even less resources. She even kept her communal piano school performing during COVID, conducting distanced outdoor lessons and recitals, stringently wiping down each key of the piano between students. This care and attention to detail is at Lara’s truest core, and it is attention our town so desperately deserves. Even more impressive is her patient, kind, angelic demeanor. As a public educator of 22 years, I can say Lara is as gifted an instructor as any I have ever seen; her giving nature, clarity of expression, and endless patience render her born for public service, where she can communicate, reach out, educate, and channel all of her amazing passions into an endeavor that will so greatly benefit each and every citizen of North Caldwell.

I could have lived anywhere, but I chose North Caldwell, as my father was raised here, on Maple Drive, and his mother was a secretary at the town hall. Although I, myself did not grow up here, the North Caldwell legacy was in me. Since divorcing recently, I could have moved anywhere else for a “fresh start,” but after living here, I already knew that there simply is nowhere else to go that could rival our special little gem of a town. Lara Schlachter as council member is the absolute best choice to ensure our community the care, time, dedication, attention to detail, and diligence we all deserve. I would back her endlessly, and am available if you so desire any further information on this amazing candidate. Thank you for your time and consideration in reading this impassioned and sincere endorsement.


Jenifer P. Hecht Rainone

Ken Tilton – Candidate for North Caldwell Town Council

October 14, 2022

TAPinto West Essex

By Stephanie Fein

This is a letter endorsing Kenneth Tilton for North Caldwell Borough Council.

Ken and his beautiful family have lived in North Caldwell for many years. His children are educated here, and he has been a very active member of the community, always looking to improve the services to our residents and visitors.

I have known him quite well through our work together with the North Caldwell Police Foundation, and he now serves as my Co-President of that very worthwhile organization.

He is a solid businessman with excellent professional skills, high morals and solid ethics. He brings great vision to the Borough Council toward its future plans, and uses excellent common sense during discussions and even debate. He is a born leader who has a positive and quiet manner whose thoughtfulness adds to constructive conclusions.

We will all be the beneficiaries of Ken once again returning to a seat on the Borough Council. Thank you for your consideration.


Stephanie Fein

Suing Hilltop developer was not ‘doing nothing’

October 3, 2022

TAPinto West Essex

By Marc A. Calello

In Paul Holland’s “Letters to the Editor” published in Thursday’s September 15, 2022’s Progress, Mr. Holland’s core statement: “Our mayor and council took the developer’s side by doing nothing to rein them in when they had the tools to do it” is just not true. Unless of course you consider suing the developer “doing nothing” which any reasonable person would not. I cannot tell if Mr. Holland has a particular agenda, or, he just likes Mr. Raymond and Mr. Rees, but for two former Republican councilpersons (Mr. Raymond and Mr. Rees) who switched to become Democrats at probably the worst time in our history to become a Democrat (think not FDR or Kennedy, but Pelosi and Schumer) running against a man (Mayor Alessi) who brought Josh Raymond into town politics and put both Raymond and Rees on the Republican line for council. Mr. Holland wants his single issue to sway your vote in a healthy, vibrant and well-educated town that has had few tax increases and several beautification and recreational projects blossom under Mayor Alessi.

I would rather the truth be told that Mr. Holland just wants Alessi out instead of falsely calling Raymond and Rees saviors of a town that doesn’t need saving (I read somewhere that North Caldwell is one of the best towns in the entire state in which to live.) NJ Monthly Magazine ranked North Caldwell Lowest property tax impact in Essex County and, #1 Safest place to live in New Jersey (2017) with Joe Alessi as our Mayor. Whether or not you want to give Mayor Alessi credit for it is your business. But he was in fact the mayor. Because Mr. Holland had some flooding as a result of the Pulte Development does not mean it was bad for the town. In fact, the Pulte Development put new homes on county land where the Essex County Jail used to be. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have beautiful housing on that land than a county jail. 

Regardless, please don’t tell me the town lacks leadership and that turncoats Raymond and Rees are a panacea for the town. Mr. Holland’s issueless and misguided cheering on of Raymond and Rees tells us to vote for them because they are “strong” and “willing to stand up for all the residents of this town against special interests.” I like a good fiction once in a while too. The truth is that Raymond and Rees were on the council when the Pulte development was discussed and voted on. Mr. Holland doesn’t tell us this truth but opines that they will “standup.” That’s the misguided part that frankly saddens me. The broadly based accusations and generalizations made by Mr. Holland sounds much more like complaining than an endorsement for Raymond and Rees. We know for whom Mr. Holland will vote because he told us, I just wish my neighbor would be honest about it instead of leaving out the really important stuff (like what a great town we live in.) He also forgot that the town’s litigation produced an order for Pulte to pay for free mediation and any resident damages as a result of the development. One more thing Mr. Holland, I know Raymond and Rees as well, and like you, I will share my opinion. They are not standing up against anyone except when it comes to their own selfish interests.

They had no problem abandoning Mayor Joe Alessi who brought them onto his ticket for town council. Raymond and Rees also abandoned the Republican Party. They abandoned their party and the mayor because it was best for them. They will also abandon you.

Marc Calello
North Caldwell

LETTER: Alessi, Tilton, Schlachter dedicated to North Caldwell

September 22, 2022

New Jersey Hills

TO THE EDITOR: We write this letter in support of Mayor Joe Alessi, Councilman Ken Tilton and Lara Schlachter. These are three outstanding residents who are dedicated to continuing to make North Caldwell a great place to live and raise a family.

Mayor Joe Alessi has devoted the past 20 years of his life to the residents of North Caldwell, serving our community unselfishly. For those residents who recently moved to North Caldwell, the reasons you found North Caldwell such a desirable place to move to is directly related to the work attributed to Mayor Joe.

For those residents who have lived in North Caldwell for many years, the reasons you chose to stay and enjoy our great community are directly attributed to the hard work of Mayor Joe. His accomplishments over the years are many, such as improved safety traffic measures, the enhancement of our recreational facilities, the improvements in our drainage, and his track record of working with the council to continue North Caldwell’s sound financial rating based on the town’s low debt ratio.

Mayor Joe’s most significant contribution to North Caldwell has been leading the initiative to save Walker’s Pond from development. Walkers Pond’s is a 17-acre tract located in the heart of our community. Mayor Joe led the efforts to preserve Walker’s Pond as open space for a public park that all residents can enjoy well into the future. If the Borough of North Caldwell did not purchase this property, the owner would have sold this parcel to a developer. The development could have included high-density housing, such as condominiums, apartments or single-family houses.

In March 2016, five of six council members voted in favor of acquiring the Walker’s Pond property to save it as open space. In November 2019, North Caldwell residents approved an open-space referendum, which levied an open-space tax to preserve the 17 acres.

In stark contrast, the record shows that one council member, Josh Raymond, voted against North Caldwell acquiring the Walker’s Pond property in March 2016. This lone vote not to purchase the property is concerning because if the other five council members voted in concert with Raymond, we certainly would have further development in North Caldwell.

Thankfully for North Caldwell, this property will be preserved for years to come for all to enjoy and not be subject to development. This is the plan for Walker’s Park and always has been the plan for Walker’s Park.

In his first term on the council, Ken Tilton has showed exemplary leadership working with our police and fire departments in an effort to continue to make North Caldwell one of the safest towns to live in across New Jersey.

Councilman Tilton, through the North Caldwell Police Foundation, has helped fund automated license plate readers and adaptive technologies to curtail and deter motor vehicle thefts and other crimes. In addition, the fundraising activities he has initiated have funded active shooter training for our police department, allowing them to use actual service revolvers in training.

Ken has instituted these changes to reduce crime at no expense to North Caldwell residents. Furthermore, Ken has established a rapport with the Essex County Sheriff’s Department to have them assist with the recent rise of motor vehicle thefts. He also initiated a townwide campaign alerting our residents of the urgency to not leave key fobs in unattended cars and to insure cars are locked while not in use.

Presently, Ken is working with our county leadership to obtain a traffic light at Mountain Avenue and Gould Avenue. Regarding school safety, Ken has been instrumental in forming meetings with both boards of education where they have been able to discuss public safety issues. With the help of Mayor Alessi and through these meetings, we are happy to say the West Essex Board of Education has moved forward with placing a Class III officer in the middle and high schools.

Since moving to North Caldwell in the past few years, Lara has been an active member of our community. She immediately volunteered to be an organizer for Grandview Elementary’s Pre-K program. Lara also became involved in the Books & Beyond program while volunteering as a class parent.

She continues to stay involved and contributing to North Caldwell while teaching piano lessons and directing plays through The Performing Arts Project NJ. Lara’s desire to become involved from the onset of her residency in North Caldwell speaks volumes of her drive to continue to make our community a great place to raise a family.

What greater representation can you ask for than Joe, Ken and Lara! They are three loyal residents, true to their word and to the residents of North Caldwell, who will work in the best interest of our community. They are the people we need leading our community. We ask for your support in voting for Mayor Joe, Councilman Ken Tilton and Lara Schlachter in this coming election.

Thank you for your consideration.

Colony Drive

Maywood Court

Grandview Place

Grandview Place

Acorn Place

Brookside Terrace

Editor’s note: All of these residents live in North Caldwell. The statements expressed in this letter are Wojtowicz’s personal opinion as a private citizen and not as a member or on behalf of the West Essex Board of Education.

North Caldwell Republicans Launch Campaign for Mayor, Council

May 17, 2022

Will run under North Caldwell United Theme

Mayor Joe Alessi will seek re-election on a ticket with Councilman Ken Tilton and candidate for Council, Lara Schlachter under the North Caldwell United Theme.

Experience. Integrity. Vision. These are the ideals and values that unite this team and will be their guiding principles as Mayor and Council Members. This team plans to continue and build on the successes of North Caldwell under the leadership of Mayor Joe Alessi. It’s no coincidence that New Jersey Family Magazine named North Caldwell the 7th best town to raise a family in New Jersey in 2019 out of over 500 towns., another national town ranking service, rated North Caldwell the #1 best town to live in New Jersey for 2019. Its finances are managed responsibly, and its streets are safe. Taxes have remained stable (there have been no tax increases in 5 of the last 11 years). We have an exceptional bond rating which allows North Caldwell to borrow capital at a lower rate. Moody states: “North Caldwell’s borough management has a history of conservative budgeting as seen in its recent strong financial performance”. (Credit Opinion 9-25-19)

Additionally, Mayor Joe, Councilman Tilton, and candidate Lara Schlachter promise to remain accessible to its residents and to keep its government transparent – providing personal cell phone numbers and being responsive to constituent concerns. Mayor Alessi has held “Mayor’s Hours” since first becoming mayor to meet with citizens and address their concerns.

North Caldwell United Priorities

  • RESPONSIBLY manage tax dollars
  • KEEP taxes stable
  • PROVIDE open and honest government
  • DELIVER top-quality services to our residents
  • KEEP our streets safe by always supporting our police & first responders

“I am excited to be seeking re-election as Mayor with Councilman Ken Tilton and Lara Schlachter – they are dynamic & dedicated and together we will work every day to keep North Caldwell the great community it is. We will keep taxes stable while continuing to provide outstanding services to our residents. We know that North Caldwell is more than just a town – it an exceptional community that is the best place to live, work, and raise our families,” said Mayor Joe Alessi.

About Joe Alessi

Joe Alessi has held the position of Mayor of North Caldwell since 2010 and was a member of the Council since 2002. He was a practicing attorney for 41 years, worked on Wall Street, was an Essex County Assistant Prosecutor for 5 years, and then opened his own general practice. He retired in 2021 and has just started a part-time job with the Essex County Utility Authority, thereby enabling him to have more time for his mayoral duties.

As a small business owner, Mayor Alessi understands the challenges facing a North Jersey business community experiencing economic uncertainty and rising costs.

Joe has lived in North Caldwell with his loving wife, Diane, since 1988. Together, they have two daughters.

About Ken Tilton

Councilman Ken Tilton is running for re-election because he understands the importance of maintaining a fiscally responsible approach to local governance while protecting the community values that make North Caldwell a great place to call home.

As a successful businessman managing multiple companies, Councilman Tilton recognizes the critical balance of budgetary restraint and finding opportunities to expand economic opportunity to the residents of North Caldwell.

Ken and his wife, Laura, who have two young daughters in our public schools, are committed to giving back to the community by participating in multiple charitable causes.

Ken is a founding member of the North Caldwell Police Foundation and currently serves as its Co-President.

About Lara Schlachter

Lara Schlachter, a candidate for Council, enjoys a successful career as a performer and teacher of music and theater. She currently teaches in her own private piano studio and directs plays through TPAPNJ. Over the years, she has worked with all ages from babies to the elderly in nursing homes. Her top priorities are to protect the community values that drew her and her family to North Caldwell in the first place: the small-town feel, low taxes, and quality public schools.

Lara has worked with other local parents running Grandview’s Saturday Pre-K Program, running the Books and Beyond Program, and as a class parent. Her husband, Ivan, is active in the community through coaching rec sports. She is a true believer in public service and volunteerism. Whenever she sees a need, Lara quickly jumps in to fill it.

As a mother of two young children, Lara brings her passion and creativity and ability to think outside the box to help lead North Caldwell into the future.

North Caldwell mayor says 4th term would be his last

April 8, 2022

The Progress News

By Kathy Shwiff

NORTH CALDWELL – Mayor Joseph Alessi, who faces opposition in his bid for re-election in November, said he is seeking his fourth and final term as mayor “to make sure unfinished projects/issues are accomplished in the way best to serve our citizens and in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Among those projects/issues that he listed are Walker’s Pond Park, remediation of the stormwater and drainage issues, and renovation/construction of a new police headquarters.

Click here to read the full article.