In Teaneck, Mixed Results For Orthodox Incumbents

TEANECK, N.J. -

Elie Katz, a longtime Teaneck town council member and a former mayor, easily won reelection on Tuesday,  while two other Orthodox members lost their relection bids in the seven-member lawmaking body.

Roughly 40 percent of the 39,000-plus residents of this leafy suburb located seven miles northwest of the George Washington Bridge are Jewish, half of whom are Orthodox. Another 40 percent are African-American, with the remaining 20 percent white or Asian. Many members of Teaneck’s Orthodox community technically live in the next town of Bergenfield.

Katz  won reelection, while Yitz Stern and Adam Gussen lost. Councilman Mendy Schwartz, who is also Orthodox, will be   up for reelection in 2016.

City council members earn  an annual slary of  $7,000 a year.

There are two other African-American council members and a Muslim mayor, Mohammed Hameeduddin, who has a close relationship with the Jewish community.

The newly elected members are Alan Sohn (who is Orthodox) and Jason Castle (who is African-American). Sohn and Castle ran on a joint slate emphasizing the need to stop property taxes from increasing.

It remains to be seen whether the new town council can rein in property taxes, with 80 percent of Teaneck’s budget going for education and many expensive mandates imposed by the state.

During the campaign, candidate posters were on poles and trees throughout the town. The main issue was high property taxes. Or, as Councilman Katz put it in an interview with Hamodia on Wednesday, “Controlling government spending and generating greater revenue.”

Expressing the sentiments of many voters was Elliott Rothschild, a 20-year Teaneck resident.

“My parents’ property in Monsey is twice the size as mine, yet they only pay 1/3 of what I do in taxes and have free garbage pickup,” Rothschild said.

Katz was easily re-elected, garnering the largest number of votes. Elected to the town council at age 22, he became mayor at 32, the youngest in township history. His day job is doing business development for IDT, and is also a partner in the popular kosher Chinese restaurant Chopstix.

Katz said that he is in politics because, “I care about the town and we [Orthodox Jews] need a seat at the table. I am committed to Teaneck residents having the highest quality of life.”