After 15 years of community service, Robert "Bob" Landrigan is running for a seat on the Borough of Madison's Town Council.
A Republican, Landrigan is currently the Madison Office of Emergency Management coordinator. In this role, Landrigan has been working with FEMA over the past two years, most recently to secure reimbursement for costs incurred by Hurricane Irene.
Landrigan is also an EMT and serves as the president of the , a role he would have to abdicate should he be elected, as it would be a conflict of interest because the town makes a donation to the squad.
Additionally, Landrigan, who has given 25,000 hours to Madison in the form of public service, also serves on the and as an Auxiliary Police officer.
The candidate said he came to the decision to run after being asked to by friends who told him, "You know how the town works. Between the emergency services, now even with this FEMA business getting money for the town, you have the background. You've shown your commitment to the town, but you also have the business end," he said.
His commitment to public service dates back to his upbringing in Brooklyn, NY, he said.
"It goes back to the old school mentality, 'This is my house, my neighborhood,' so you do what's right. If you have the time and the desire to give back, you give back," Landrigan said. "You do it because it's where you live, that's the bottom line."
His public service keeps him in touch not only with the town's government, but also with the concerns of voters, Landrigan said.
"I get to talk to the residents and hear what they like, don't like, and what they value. They have good ideas about issues facing Madison," he said.
Currently, Landrigan said, the biggest issue on the minds of residents is the economy.
"The overriding issue for everybody, not just Madison, is the economy," he said. "What you want to do is keep the town affordable so people can stay here. What sets these towns apart is what they have to offer.
"They're very safe, so you give credit to the police officers. You want to keep taxes low and there's no question that they're up there, but look what you're getting for your money. You get a lot here for your money."
Though he's lived in Madison for 18 years, Landrigan and his wife previously resided in Newark for several years.
"You see what people don't have and you see what you have here and you want to keep it and that's the challenge, because the minute you start giving that up then the towns like Madison and the Chathams start becoming like other towns. Plain vanilla, nothing special. And then why would anybody really want to come here?" he said.
The father of three grown children, Landrigan pointed to Madison's public schools and their athletic programs as another great value in Madison.
"When they (his three children) all got into college they were actually ahead of the other students. It's a public high school and they did better than kids in private schools and that's one of the things that attracted us here," Landrigan said.
Passing on his passion for public service, Landrigan said his daughter was recently hired as a full-time police officer in Morris Township.
In addition to his commitment to serving the community, Landrigan, who has had a 30-year career at JPMorgan Chase, said he would also bring numerous professional strengths to the position.
"We're coming up for a revaluation, and that's what I do. They talk about transparency in government, well, I was an auditor at JPMorgan when the bank built its corporate headquarters on Wall Street, which was a 700 million dollar building, and I oversaw the bidding process. It's the experience with compliance, the experience with transparency, understanding the rules and how to do it right. Those are my strengths," Landrigan said.
Putting those attributes to work for the town, Landrigan said he has ideas he'd like to focus on right away if elected.
"There are a few things I want to do. One is really look at Giralda Farms Corporate Park and look at the vacant space there and see about attracting more tenants in there," he said. "You can only cut expenses so far before you really start impacting services and the residents. My thought process is, let's see if we can attract more businesses to those big blocks of corporate space, that drives up ratables."
Landrigan said he also wants to focus on shared services.
"I did it with the ambulance corps already. Even though we're volunteer, we still needed to provide 24/7 service to the town and when daytime shifts got light, we worked with surrounding squads and we had members go back and forth.
"With the Board of Health, Madison has a health department. Not all towns have them. One of the ways we pay for it, or it justifies its existence let's say, is there are overhead costs and what they do is they contract out their services to towns that don't have them for a fee. They (the other towns) get the service, they don't carry the overhead but they pay us a fee and the beauty of it is that service is right here. That's a shared service. That's a good way of reducing costs without really impacting the residents.
"I want to focus more on getting the revenue in as opposed to cutting expenses and they way you do it is keep it desirable, maintain the services, get rid of that vacant space. That's the focus right now. You have to manage your ongoing expenses.
"With FEMA, there's a program and this is another way I'm trying to get money in and not just offset costs, the federal government had what they call a 'hazard mitigation program' where you identify projects that could protect your town or ward off future problems. If you qualify, they'll subsidize part of the cost. Well, I got that passed and I've got a bunch of projects in."
The candidate said he feels he and his running mates complement one another.
"We work as a team. (Mayor) Mary-Anna (Holden) has a wealth of experience and a love of the town. Martin (Barbato, council candidate), he's a lawyer, he's a financial guy, you know you put the three together, it's a good team."
As for his opponents, Landrigan said, "They're all good people. They have the best interests of the town at heart. Everybody wants to do what's right. It's just a different approach or philosophy. I'm not going to go at anybody. They have to walk out their front door win or lose, just like I do, and look their neighbor in the face. You have to have a conscience."