This Observer.com article describes you as a Republican and as a fiscal conservative. Are you a member of the Republican Party? What specifically makes you unique as a fiscal conservative? What does it mean to you, why do you identify as that?
I have rooted my ideology in liberty principles and believe that the Republican party will only survive if we embrace liberty. Individuals such as Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie embody this notion. With that being said, I would say I have followed in their footsteps and am a member of the Republican Party. I am truly a fiscal conservative and I have vowed I will never vote for a budget increase unless we make significant cuts elsewhere. I believe republicans in the area moderate conservatives at best, hence the high taxes and large government programs we see throughout the tri-state area. There are millions upon millions of dollars within the county budget that should be cut and many programs and initiatives that should have been abolished a long time ago. The county government has always been run by “conservatives” yet we still see this massive bloat.
I identify as a fiscal conservative for the following reason: We cannot make New Jersey an attractive place for our future generation to live when the cost of living is so high that you can’t buy a decent home or afford the massive taxes. New Jersey is the most moved out of state in the USA and the county I reside in (Morris) is experiencing a drastic spike in the median age of our population. This is a ticking time bomb and not sustainable for any economy. Innovation is becoming stagnated by the overreach of government and people in large numbers are simply saying, “I don’t want to be a part of it” and are moving elsewhere. I want to be one of many voices to help change this trend. The only way we will change it is through true fiscal conservatism.
Tell us about yourself. What is your occupation? Where did you go to college and what did you study? What are your hobbies, do you play any sports or express yourself artistically? Are you single, married, a parent?
I’m 24 years old and work as an employee benefits consultant. In my job, I work with many different companies and help them navigate through the complexities of health insurance and develop the best plan for their employees. Everyday, since starting in this profession, I have seen what big-government policy does to the average middle class worker in the USA. The Affordable Care Act has wreaked havoc on some of these small/medium size businesses and their employee’s personal finances. From the ACA reporting requirements to the mandates, I’ve been up close and personal with real people who have really struggled through these times. It’s part of the reason why I got involved with politics to begin with and feel so strongly about limited government.
I attended Elon University where I was fortunate enough to earn a football scholarship and went on to achieve the record for most consecutive games started in program history at 46. I was the long snapper and luckily never had a bad snap despite some high-pressure situations. I think playing football in college made me grow up quick and learn some serious self-accountability.
Currently, I’m single with no kids at this stage of the game. My life is truly devoted to helping others in the community!
What are the biggest challenges facing Morris County residents? How would you solve them?
I touched on this a little earlier, but the biggest problem Morris County is facing is the inability to attract young families and new businesses. Morris County is a beautiful place, has a great culture, and there are already many established companies that operate here. It boggles my mind though that I see vacant office buildings that cannot be filled and homes for sale that sit on the market because they cost half a million and come with 75k in essential necessary repairs before you can even move in. As taxes inch higher and the local government justifies it by saying “it’s only a little” we continue to squeeze the pocketbooks of the Morris County citizens. They can hardly afford it and they see their children/ their grandchildren growing up and moving out of the state for good. We can fix this through a reform of how we look at spending. We can offer tax breaks for homeowners to conduct the necessary renovations they cannot afford right now and discontinue the irresponsible spending practices within our $340 million budget. There are various projects, expenses and programs I would look to cut (a nursing home we own that should be privatized, $50 million on the renovation of a courthouse, excessive consulting fees, and much, much more).
Describe the duties and authority of a New Jersey freeholder. Why did you decide to run for this position as opposed to a seat on a town council, or school board.
A freeholder is a member of a board that oversees the county government and sits above the municipal government and below the state legislature. Uniquely, New Jersey is the only state that calls this level of government “The Board of Chosen Freeholders.” Freeholders main responsibilities are to set policy for the operation of all county administrative departments, supervise the administration of the county government, enact the budget each year, and authorize bonds and expenditures.
I chose to run for this position because I believe it is the “right place at the right time.” We have an individual who just vacated his seat to run for Assembly, his name is Hank Lyon and he was elected to the freeholder board at 24 as well. He has been a big success and I look at his seat as needing to go to someone with the same mindset and perspective as him. I believe this is a crucial time for the county where we need the diverse voice of a young professional more than ever. Everyone else on the board is the same, and everyone running against me is more of the same. I believe my election is necessary to help fix the soon to be big issues we have with our demographic swing.
The other current members of the Morris County Freeholder board are Douglas Cabana, its director, John Cesaro, deputy director, Kathryn DeFillippo, William Lyon (whose seat you are running for), Thomas Mastrangelo, Christine Myers, and Deborah Smith. How much have you researched your potential fellow members on the board should you win election? Which may be your allies, and which may oppose your policy proposals?
I currently am a member of the executive board for the Morris County Young Republicans so I have met all of the current freeholders at events/ functions throughout the county over the past year or so. I believe as the outsider candidate and not the “establishment’s pick” none of the members of the board are going to actively “root” for my victory. With this being said, if elected, I will be working with them and I think they will appreciate my perspective. I’m sure they all care about Morris County as much as I do and if that’s the case, they’ll welcome my ideas because they don’t want to see the voters who elected me be ignored.
If elected, I would be the most fiscally conservative member of the board and bring a unique set of skills and knowledge base to the table I have learned in my business career. I will not “go with the flow” or fall into the trap of being systematically created in to a career politician. I want to institute term limits on myself and can clearly state for the record now, I will not serve any more than two terms—that’s a promise. If all politicians thought the way we do within the liberty movement we would get a lot more done because people would be more concerned with results than getting re-elected.
Has the current board of Freeholders been derelict in their responsibilities to the residents of Morris County?
I don’t believe they have been outright derelict in their responsibilities on purpose or have tried to stagnate innovative change, I just think the majority of the board has become so antiquated in the process of government that they could not fathom cutting a program because that’s bound to “piss someone off.” They recently touted a “small increase” in the budget and taxes as a big accomplishment. A small increase applied to an already breaking point is not doing any good for anyone! I just think it’s very moderate, safe, recycled way of thinking in a time when we need bold, bright and daring new thoughts. In life, you have to be able to choose the difficult right over the easy wrong. I think the “easy wrong” being made in New Jersey is continuing the status quo while data shows people hate it so much they pack up and leave.
The Observer.com article quotes you as saying, “I will work tirelessly, if elected, to enact tax breaks for home renovations, and cut the size of government overall to lower taxes. We have many wasteful programs who serve few– yet are paid for by all.” Can you expound on this? What tax breaks are you proposing that would make home renovations more affordable? What are these wasteful programs? How much power does a Freeholder have to effect these changes?
The Freeholder Board has the power to effect all of these things directly and as a member of the board I can certainly make my case and fight tirelessly for the changes I am advocating for.
As far as the home renovation program, which I have called the “reshaping how we live initiative,” I want to be able to give as much tax money back (from property taxes) as possible to individuals who wish to do a renovation on their home. There’s a big issue with the housing market here right now. Most of the homes are very old, and have gotten very expensive to up-keep. With this being said, the high cost of living factored in, the homeowners cannot afford to update crucial elements of their home to bring it into the 21st century. The kitchens haven’t been updated since the 80’s, piping, electrical, bathrooms you name it, all suffering neglect. This makes a home harder to sell and turns off young new buyers. With my proposed plan, we will give as much money back in taxes as possible (in several ways, working on them now) to allow people to spend this saved money on upgrading their house. They get a new and improved home, it cost them nothing and now they will be able to sell it quicker. It won’t be easy and wouldn’t be someone for the faint of heart to get done, but I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen. I’ve heard about this problem from so many friends and young families who want to move here, and this I believe is the way we get on the road to fixing it.
In regards to the wasteful spending I will give you three very quick examples. First, the board recently wasted a boatload of money on a solar panel, solar energy initiative that blew up in their face. The panels quickly became obsolete very soon after we wasted the money on them and the whole project was a black hole for the tax dollars. Secondly, the board is paying $350,000 to a “consultant” to tell us what we need to do on our County Courthouse renovation that will look to run us around $50 million dollars. And third, the county currently owns and operates a nursing home that should have been privatized a long time ago. Everyone knows this simple phrase, a private company will do a better job than the government 100 times out of 100 in running a business—It’s a fact backed up by countless examples. We should sell it to someone who will do a better job for the patients of the facility and alleviate the massive expenditures (recently last week, a half a million dollar fire alarm system) that are placed on the taxpayers while we are owning it.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Freshman year of college…probably the entire year, lets just cross it off and say it didn’t happen!!
But more recently, when I actually was considering announcing for this position, one of my very best friends became publicly enraged with me for wanting to challenge the establishment hack he fell in line for. My former friend, a product of the establishment (poor guy) couldn’t stick up to his elders in the county party for patronizing my decision to run, so he took his anger out publicly on me in a meeting. I was stunned, embarrassed, but it certainly made me stronger as a person and even more determined to win this race!
In the Michael Mann film “Heat” starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, what is the point of the diner scene? What are we, as the audience, supposed to take away from this scene?
Well, first…two of the best actors of all time in the same scene, I think it was the first and only time.
Whatever you do in life, you can say all you want that it won’t consume you, but it always will. You simply have to embrace that. You must respect your opposition but never soften on them… funny how these things remind me of politics.
Who are your major influences, political and otherwise?
Politically speaking, my biggest influence is Rand Paul. He is what I aspire to be politically to a tee. My biggest personal influence is my father, Paul Crispi. He served our country in fighting terrorism as a special agent and most recently with the Department of Homeland Security before retiring a few years ago. The man has integrity, a good value system and a great sense of humor. And got to give a shout out to my mother, a wonderful woman who always kept me on the straight and narrow in my wild, youthful days! Don’t know how she did it but certainly deserves a lot of credit!
Why go into politics to effect change? Why not try to effect culture, or be a youth leader of some kind, or help drive related political reforms you advocate through the private sector, rather than the public sector?
In life, I personally believe the best way to effect change is to stand up to those who are causing the problems. Many politicians are bullies and frankly not nice people. They are in it for themselves and master manipulators of their constituents (the ones that donate to them—the ones that don’t they could care less about). I have personally seen many of these people at all levels of government over my life involved with politics: municipal, county, state, and federal. Standing up to a bully and knocking them out is probably the best feeling in the world and one of the best things you can do for the masses. I’ve always felt a desire to stand up for what is right and for those who cannot on their own. Not that I’m better than anyone else because I’m not, but because most people are either too busy to do it, too shy to say it, or not able to do it for a number of other reasons. But I can, I have the time and the resources, so I look at it as my responsibility. I’ve seen the few good politicians out there make great change for people and that’s why I am involved in the public sector—I want to be able to save people money, get the government off their backs and let them live a life of liberty, justice, and freedom without being a pawn in someone else’s scheme.
That’s why I’m doing this; I hope you will keep up with me on the quest!
Photo: Ben Chelnitsky
This post was written by Dillon Eliassen.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.
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