Town council candidates Matt Shildneck and Farhad Ghatan answer five questions from the Journal. Winner of the Nov. 4 election will replace Felix Menjivar on the council.
Council members receive $400 per month plus $50 for each council meeting attended. The five-person council, elected at-large to four-year terms, approves the town’s annual budget, are ex-officio members of town advisory committees, represent the town at official functions and meetings and enact ordinances, which become part of the municipal code.
Town council candidate: Matt Shildneck
Journal: Why do you want to serve on the town council?
Shildneck: I decided to run for this seat because I didn’t want to see the incumbent run unopposed, and I felt that I could do a better job. I am a current member of the Historic Preservation Review Board and Planning Commission. I love this town and island, this place has been my home for 30-plus years, my daughters are sixth-generation islanders, and I want to do my part to help keep this place special for them and their children. As an electrician I have worked with town employees on and at all of the town’s utility systems. I feel that my time and experience here gives me a unique perspective of this Town that I think is lacking on the Council now.
J: What issues will you emphasize if elected?
Shildneck: I think that one of the biggest issues is the relationship between the town and the county. We are all one community here on San Juan but we don’t work together as well as I feel we should. The best example of this is our solid waste system. The town and the county could save a lot of money if they could make the Sutton Road property work for both the town and county.
J: Can anything be done to lower the high costs of water and sewer services for town residents?
Shildneck: The mayor and council are doing their best to keep the rates as low as they can. It’s just tough on the 2,185 residents of town to have to support water and sewer systems that have to handle 25,000 people at its peak. I would continue to work with the mayor and other council members to keep our rates low and look for new solutions to this problem.
J: Are there improvements or projects the town would be wise to invest in?
Shildneck: Traffic is something I think the town really needs to look at for the future. Not only at the ferry landing, but with the flow of cars through town. Marguerite Place is becoming a truck bypass for all traffic moving north and south on the island. This is another area that I think the town and county need to work together on.