Republican Candidate for Council Stephen Wolsky Says He Sees 'Green' in West Caldwell's Future
Environmentally friendly measures could be taken to help cut town's costs, he says.
Stephen Wolsky, who is running for West Caldwell town council in 2010 as a Republican, feels indebted to a town he has called home for his entire life.
If elected, Wolsky said he would bring valuable managerial experience to a town council that is working to reduce expenditures in a tight economy. For this reason, he hopes that voters will identify him as the right fit and award him with a council seat come November.
Wolsky, 42, has been the general manager for the Mountain Ridge Country Club for the last 13 years, and has worked at the club even longer.
"The place is a city within a city," said Wolsky, attempting to paint a picture of a country club that spans 250 acres.
On a daily basis, Wolsky is responsible for managing and accounting for all services provided to his high-end clients. Commanding such a facility is undeniably a challenge, but one that Wolsky welcomes. He lays out a typical day: "I may be meeting with an architect on a golf course, then overseeing a kitchen renovation, then budgeting for upcoming years."
"Economic conditions have made business at the club a bit harder over the last few years," Wolsky explained.
But Wolsky refuses to spend too much time lamenting on the current situation. He launches into an explanation of how the United States Golf Association will be holding its Senior Amateur event at Mountain Ridge in 2012, coinciding with the celebration of the club's 100th anniversary. Wolsky said he believes that with the recession over, his able management of the club will keep it flourishing in the years to come.
Wolsky, who is single, grew up in West Caldwell and has lived here all of his life. His grandparents, originally from Poland and the Ukraine, moved to West Caldwell in the mid-1920s, where they established their new life in the United States.
Wolsky attended St. Aloysius elementary school (now Trinity Academy), and then moved onto the public school system, attending Grover Cleveland Middle School and James Caldwell High School. After graduating high school, he earned college credits in hotel and restaurant management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, but did not finish his degree.
Wolsky's father, who passed away a few years ago, was a police lieutenant in West Caldwell. "I got to where I am today from my father's hard work," Wolsky said with admiration in his voice. "[West Caldwell] afforded me a great life, since it paid for my education and other great things in my life."
Wolsky's mother still lives in town. Both of his parents' commitment to West Caldwell has built up Wolsky's affinity for the town, which has inspired him to run for town council despite never before holding public office.
Frank Petruzzi, of West Caldwell, has known Wolsky since junior high.
"He was very proud of his father's position and longevity with the West Caldwell Police Department and he has always been involved in the town in one way or another," Petruzzi said.
"As long as I can remember, Steve has been at Mountain Ridge Country Club. His dedication to the betterment of Mountain Ridge has been admirable and it is evident in their recent honor to be the host of the USGA Senior Amateur Tournament in 2012," Petruzzi added.
While still in high school, Wolsky began working at Mountain Ridge.
"I started in '83 as a lifeguard, then moved onto the clubhouse while I was in college, and worked my way up the ladder that way," he recalled. While ascending in the country club, Wolsky learned its operations from the inside. In the restaurant, for example, he learned to be a busboy, waiter and eventually a maitre d'. All of this experience eventually led Wolsky to become the manager of the entire club.
"You need to know how to tactfully downsize in this economy," Wolsky responded when asked how his professional experience will relate to issues that may come up before the council. "And I plan on bringing some things over to the township that work at Mountain Ridge."
In many ways, he said he feels the administration in a council is similar to the running of a business. Therefore, Wolsky believes that the tasks he must perform as club manager—managing employees, accounting for health care benefits, and maintaining the budget—have prepared him for the manifold tasks that he will face as a member of the town council.
One of the major innovations at Mountain Ridge that Wolsky said he hopes to carry over to the town council is the imposition of renewable energy sources in town buildings.
"I am big on going green, and doing whatever we can do to be more efficient and help the environment," he said.
At Mountain Ridge, Wolsky said he hopes to introduce solar-powered golf carts and pool heaters in the near future. He believes this will be an excellent way to reduce energy costs in difficult times.
Wolsky stressed the value renewable energy many times during the interview, emphasizing that since it helped to reduce costs at Mountain Ridge, it could do so for the town's budget as well.
"We can achieve a lot more energy efficiency by installing new light fixtures in the fire house," Wolsky explained, adding that the project is new and could eventually expand to other public structures.
When asked about some of his Democratic opponents' proposals, Wolsky said he was amenable to some ideas, but wary of bringing too much bureaucracy into the local government.
About the opposition's idea of a Citizen's Traffic Advisory Committee, Wolsky countered: "[Creating the committee] is too much bureaucracy. And the police department is perfectly capable of taking care of it."
However, he showed some interest in the concept of a Business Advisory Council, provided that it does not intrude too much on businesses' individual choices.
For inspiration for their platform, Wolsky and his Republican running mates have been spending a lot of time listening to residents describe what they would like the council to do, Wolsky said.
One request Wolsky said he has heard a lot has been for the creation of a community center in town. Wolsky envisions a center with indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a gym, a shared center that could benefit all of West Essex. As his fellow Republican candidates have done, he insists that the center must be affordable before any consideration of its construction.
"We are looking to maintain the community as we know it. This is a great, safe and happy community, and [the Republican candidates for town council] want to enhance that," Wolsky said, spelling out his central reason for running for town council.