Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mayor Battles Both Parties in Tenafly Race

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mayor Battles Both Parties in Tenafly Race

Article excerpt

TENAFLY -- The bright orange signs seem to be ubiquitous in the borough: "Three terms are enough," they blare, a reference to Mayor Peter Rustin's 12 years in office.

But Rustin, the first independent mayor elected in Tenafly, whose white "Vote Rustin" signs also dot lawns throughout the community, says those three terms only prove he deserves a fourth.

"The fact that I've been reelected twice with substantial margins means that people must like the job I'm doing," he said, noting that Tenafly has no mandatory term limits.

But his opponents in the Nov. 3 election for the four-year mayoral seat -- Nadia LaMastra, a three-term councilwoman on the Democratic ticket, and Ronald Cutro, a newcomer on the Republican ticket who generated the orange signs -- claim to offer better visions and an approach more inclusive of the council.

When listing her goals, LaMastra sounds strikingly similar to Rustin. She hopes to fund municipal infrastructure to keep up with wear and tear, spend more on maintaining the roads and parks and dedicate more resources for senior services, such as a senior center and a senior van -- all items also on Rustin's to do list.

LaMastra, who works for an attorney and does estate tax returns, concedes she may be similar to the mayor philosophically, but says her approach will be different. She vows to bring more transparency to the job and says she will be a team player. Government is about the vision of a whole group, she said, claiming that Rustin "works on his own."

She also said she hopes to make it a top priority to preserve historic properties before it's too late. "We need to have more meetings with the Historic Preservation Committee ... and see if we can designate more properties historic."

LaMastra's five council colleagues, all Democrats, back her bid for mayor, citing her community-oriented perspective and arguing that Rustin focuses on his own ideas to the exclusion of the council.

But LaMastra's opponents argue that there won't be much transparency or open discussion if seven Democrats are running the town.

Republican Cutro, the founder of an advertising agency and a longtime resident of Tenafly, says his success in the business sphere and people skills will be a boon to the borough. Among his goals are increasing parking in town, lowering taxes and improving services to senior citizens. "I won't waste money on projects that residents don't want, such as a new police station," he said, noting the mayor and council touted a plan for an expensive new police station residents didn't want.

Like LaMastra, he vows to bring more "openness and transparency into running the town."

"I hope to accomplish a better relationship with the people of Tenafly, bringing it back to the small, bucolic town I grew up in," Cutro said, adding, "I work very, very well with almost all people. …

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