Fair Haven’s GOP Council Candidates: A Chat with Incumbent Betsy Koch

Elizabeth “Betsy” Koch
Photo/courtesy of Betsy Koch

In the race for the three seats that are up for grabs on Fair Haven Borough Council, six candidates are vying for the wins. Three are newcomer Democrats. Three are Republicans.

Of the Republicans, one is an incumbent, one a newcomer, and one a former councilman. The incumbent in the governing body race, Betsy Koch, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term of former Councilman Rowland Wilhelm, is on the ballot to fill a full three-year term.

Incumbent Betsy Koch, Elizabeth on the ballot, gave Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect a glimpse into her background and political vision for Fair Haven in a Q&A chat … 

Name, address, age

Elizabeth Koch, 27 Sycamore Lane

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Crestwood, NY (Westchester County).

How long have you been a Fair Haven resident? If you left and returned, explain when and why.

I have been a Fair Haven resident for 43 years.

 Any past experience on a local board or commission, organization or governing body? If not in Fair Haven, where, in what capacity and for how long? 

I was appointed to the Zoning Board in 2015, served as a Founding Board member for the Foundation of Fair Haven since 2012 and appointed to the Fair Haven Borough Council November 2017.

I have also been a member of the Fair Haven Parks and Recreation Committee for 30, serving this last year in a council liaison capacity.

 Volunteer work? Community organizations? 

I have been a PTA volunteer, Scout leader, a tutor for the single mothers at Spring House, and currently co-chairman of the Wall of Honor at Knollwood School,founding board member of the Foundation of Fair Haven, and a member of the Competent Community (Mental Health Association).

I was also a founding board member of the Fair Haven Technology Foundation, which has since become the Fair Haven Education Foundation.

If you are running to fill an unexpired term, why did you opt to run to fill in for a short time rather than full term? Local politics can prove to be more overwhelming than anticipated. If you are running for a full term, elected and find the job isn’t what you expected, is it your intention to complete your term, regardless? 

I am fully committed to serving out a full term on the Council if elected.

What do you do for a living, for how long and how do you think your professional career/skills will make you an asset as a public servant?

I have been an 8thGrade Science Teacher at Knollwood School for 23 years.

My interactions with students, parents and families as well as staff and administration has provided me with the unique opportunity to really know our town and it’s citizens. I believe my experiences as a teacher has given me the perspective to understand our culture and small town values.

If this is your first go at public office, what prompted you to run?

Which U.S. president is your political role model? Why, specifically? 

I would have to say FDR.  He was elected president during a very difficult time in US history. He created major, comprehensive government-sponsored programs to lead our country out of the Depression and then had to lead our country before and during WW2 — an incredible undertaking.

What is your favorite charitable organization? Why?

Habcore.  This is a wonderful organization which provides housing, counseling and educational services for the homeless.

Which local or regional official/representative (municipal governing body member, senator, assemblyman, congressman) do you admire most? Why?

I admire Susan Sorensen. She is the heart of the Foundation of Fair Haven and has done an incredible job organizing Fair Haven Day as well as other events such as Octoberfest, Luau and Town Dinner Gala. She is the consummate volunteer and always ready to help any person or organization in search of volunteers.

Fair Haven Borough Council members are completely uncompensated volunteers. There is no pay involved. It is also a very time-consuming job that requires transparency and accessibility to the public. What benefit is there for you, specifically, besides the obvious, serving the town in which you live?

Having lived in Fair Haven for more than 40 years I have had the opportunity to be involved at many levels and at different times in the activities that define our wonderful town.

Now that my children are grown and I am established in my career teaching at Knollwood School I find myself with the time and desire to become more involved.  Having served on the Council this past year has only strengthened my committment to be an active member of the governing body.

What are your key platform issues? Why did you choose these issues as focal points?

Key platform issues for me include Affordable Senior Housing, simplify the Brush/Leaf and Yard Waste collection process,  upgrading our aging Borough facilities, road/curb maintenance and repair as well as meeting our obligations to Fair Share Housing.

Knocking on doors the past few months has given me the opportunity to converse with many of the citizens of Fair Haven.  These are all issues that Fair Havenites have expressed concerns over and are looking for solutions that are both fiscally responsible and creative.

How do you plan to address these issues? Please be specific.

Through my work as liason to various committees as well as working with the council, mayor and borough administrator, I hope to affect positive change. I am also a strong proponent of regularly scheduled town hall meetings.