Kieliszek also points to the growth and development of the Glenpointe Complex as an example of Teaneck’s smart-growth planning. “It was a bold, complicated action that cleared a blighted area in the community.” When the land was acquired in the late 1960s–1970s and was sold to a developer, the area was redeveloped with housing, hotels, office space, townhouses and planned-unit development. “It was a radical change with far-reaching accomplishments,” Kieliszek explains. “The positive tax consequences (for the town) as a result of redevelopment have been significant. Mayor Frank Burr got the ball rolling and I followed it up with Mayor Frank Hall, seeing it through with the groundbreaking.”
Kieliszek believes that local government offers “the most opportunities for women to become politically active.” A founding active member of the New Jersey Association for Elected Women and former president of that organization, Kieliszek is still contributing to Teaneck as a member of its planning board.
The future for women in politics is even brighter, she says. “I believe women have the innate talents required to work out compromises.” Traditionally, Kieliszek believes, women’s roles in the family and roles in society give women the natural ability for the “give-and-take” of politics. To that end, Kieliszek believes her own style of leadership lends itself to the quote from the Bible, “‘a soft answer turneth away wrath.’ I believe most problems can be solved with a great deal of talk and a good deal of work.”
Kieliszek is also a believer in nonpartisan politics, particularly on the local level. “I always fought to keep local issues nonpartisan.” She adds that local government decisions are based more on a personal level. “You see your constituency in the flesh at the supermarket or the PTA meeting.” Which is why, Kieliszek wryly explains, her husband no longer allows her to do the food shopping at the supermarket. “He says by the time I finish chatting with folks, the butter has melted!”
Her husband, Raymond Kieliszek, BS’64 (T), has always been a strong supporter. The couple has been married 55 years. Raymond is a veteran of World War II and attended Fairleigh Dickinson University on the G.I. Bill. “He gave me my first connection with FDU.” It was when she began her political activism and her four children started college that Kieliszek began her college studies. “I didn’t want to be left behind.” Additionally, she explains it was because of her involvement in Teaneck and its politics “that I saw the stellar level of FDU and decided it was the place for me.” She found a great deal of encouragement from the faculty and particularly remembers history professor Jean Willis. “She was a U.S. Constitution scholar and was very interested in women’s role in politics. I learned a great deal from her and found her advice to be very constructive.”
She also says the size of the University lent itself an “air of intimacy that allowed you to get to know everyone.” And because of her roles in the township, “the campus always had familiar faces. Students, faculty and administrators were always encouraging and helpful.”
Though officially retired, Kieliszek remains active with Planning Board meetings, gardening and family. Her four grown children “have given me seven beautiful grandsons,” and her family is her greatest source of strength. Still a steadfast supporter of women in politics she remains “a survivor both personally and politically. Public life involves a great deal of sacrifice, but there is a great sense of personal and professional accomplishment when things go well.”