MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Small business owner, community volunteer and lifetime Democrat Deborah Engel filed Monday, April 4, to run for a seat on the Maplewood Township Committee.
According to a press release from Engel, who has lived in Maplewood for 13 years, when she saw the need for a coworking space that also provided flexible, part-time childcare for working parents, she opened in 2015 Work and Play, which offered office space on one level with a fully licensed daycare center in the same South Orange building.
When Engel saw the community’s desire to shop locally and the breadth of artists and makers that lived here, she co-founded the SOMA General Store website, a one-stop ecommerce site that brought makers, artists and local storefronts together in one online shopping destination. The site led to several “pop up” shops in 2018 and 2019, with the last one, on Springfield Avenue, being so successful that they opened the flagship store, General Store Cooperative, a co-retail storefront in the Springfield Avenue corridor.
According to the release, this was all just the beginning. Since then, Engel has had many more business and volunteer ventures in the South Orange–Maplewood community.
“I love our community, I believe in our community and I want all people to feel included in our community,” Engel said in the release. “As we emerge from two difficult years during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s imperative that we work together to bolster and protect our small businesses, which are the beating heart of our downtowns. At the same time, we need to make sure everyone who calls Maplewood their home is supported and has a voice in township decisions.”
Engel has listed some of her priorities as being health and wellness, public safety, updating the township’s Master Plan, and communication.
She lives with her husband, Matt, and their three daughters, who are in third, fourth and sixth grades.