MONTVALE, N.J. — As the first Christian-born Syrian to become mayor in the Eastern United States, Michael Ghassali says he intends to make Montvale more business-friendly.
The Independent candidate on Tuesday unseated incumbent Mayor Roger Fyfe by a count of 1,064 votes to 717.
Daily Voice caught up with Ghassali for a preview of what's to come.
DV: Is your faith important to you? How will that play into your role?
MG: It has been verified by the United States Eastern Syriac Archdiocies that I am the first Christian-born Syrian to be a mayor in the Eastern United States. Not confirmed yet with the Western United States Archdiocese. My faith is always important with my judgment. My job is to do what's best for the borough of Montvale and its residents.
DV: What are your plans for the corporate sector of Montvale?
MG: My policy will be a business-friendly administration. I already began contact to form an Economic Growth Commission to market Montvale globally to fill existing office space. I also plan on visiting our corporate residents regularly and get them involved in our activities to make them part of our plan.
DV: What would you like to see change?
MG: A more open government. In speaking with residents throughout the campaign, people are anxious to help their town and become involved if they are asked. I would like to see us operate a hybrid business and government model, challenge the status quo by asking questions. Why would anyone need 4 signatures to buy a $10 stapler? These things always frustrated me and I was always told that this is how it needs to be done.
DV: What would you like to stay the same?
MG: Our small-town feel may change with the new development coming in, but I would like to see us maintain as much as possible a small town feel. We offer great services that can always improve.
DV: Anything else?
MG: This is an opportunity not for one person but for the entire community to get engaged. My mission is to energize the young and the old to help us build a better Montvale. I don't have all the answers and don't claim to know everything. My strength will be to have qualified passionate people help me with one intention -- and that is to have a great town for all of us.
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