Described by The Metuchen Mirror as “a man on a mission,” Jonathan M. Busch was sworn-in as the 36th Mayor of the Borough of Metuchen on December 18, 2017 and was twice re-elected in 2018 and 2019.
During his time in office, Mayor Busch has worked to maintain the character and livability of the Borough. Over this period, Metuchen has consistently ranked as one of the most livable places in New Jersey. Its picturesque downtown was recently recognized for its extraordinary transformation which led to the Metuchen Downtown Alliance’s receipt of the 2023 “Great American Main Street Award,” defining it as one of the best downtowns in the nation.
Since taking office, Mayor Busch has repeatedly emphasized the importance of fiscal responsibility which was recently recognized by Moody’s Investor Service, which expressed extraordinary confidence in the Borough’s financial status by upgrading its bond rating. He has shown what smart, practical and locally-minded leadership can do for a community with big ideas.
Under his leadership, the Borough has made sweeping investments in infrastructure and has secured millions of dollars in Federal, State and County grants for numerous projects. For example, Mayor Busch has led the Borough’s efforts to construct a new emergency services center. He has overseen the Borough’s adoption of a series of shared services agreements with other public entities to significantly upgrade our emergency dispatch service and construct a new sewer pump station, among other things. Additionally, he has initiated and overseen a series of actions designed to address Metuchen’s aging roads, upgrade every street marker sign in the Borough, replace downtown parking meters, remove and replace dangerous trees, and create a new signage and wayfinding system. During Mayor Busch’s time in office, the Borough has paved over 18 miles of Borough roads.
Improving Parks and Recreation
Mayor Busch has advocated for and completed significant upgrades to Metuchen’s parks and recreation spaces. He worked to solicit the input of hundreds of residents as they sought to establish a Borough-wide vision plan for active and passive recreation, which charted the course for improvements over the next few years. Under Mayor Busch, the Borough has made substantial investments in Myrtle Park and Kentnor Park, among others. Additionally, plans are well underway to establish the most expansive recreation space in the Borough, consisting of 30 plus acres for residents to walk, hike, bike, and stroll in the Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preserve. Also, with the help of a $2 million State grant, the Borough is in the process of transforming Edgar Field which will transform it from a crucial, yet underutilized space, into a recreational hub that will significantly enhance its surrounding neighborhood.
Mayor Busch has taken significant steps to prioritize pedestrian, accessibility and bicycle-friendly infrastructure. For example, he helped lower the speed limit to 25 miles per hour on nearly every Borough street, installed new sidewalks on Main Street and he is overseeing the creation of the Borough’s first-ever bike lane on Grove Avenue.
Mayor Busch helped direct the establishment of a new Metuchen Police Department bicycle unit to assist with traffic enforcement while enhancing community interaction. He has ensured the placement of new traffic signs, signals and crosswalks throughout Metuchen and he has worked to create additional downtown parking spots for individuals with disabilities.
Emphasizing the Arts
Mayor Busch continues to emphasize the importance of maintaining a vibrant arts community in the Borough and has enhanced the visibility of arts programming throughout the Borough. Of specific note, he led Borough efforts to acquire the historic Forum Theatre to ensure that it remains a theatre and eventually serves as the cornerstone for the development of a Metuchen Arts District on the southern end of Main Street.
Protecting Our Community
Mayor Busch has been locally responsive to a series of national and regional issues. In 2018, when a resident was detained by immigration officials after driving his children to school, he worked closely with community leaders and public officials to help lead the Metuchen community in support of the detained resident and his family.
Later that year, after a series of national tragedies involving gun violence in schools and houses of worship throughout the country, Mayor Busch again joined with community leaders and public officials to call for an end to gun violence with rallies in the Borough which engaged thousands of residents in collective efforts.
In response to the extended 2018-19 federal government shutdown, Mayor Busch helped initiate “It Takes a Borough,” a program designed to support federal employees from Metuchen who were not being paid by their employers. The program offered federal workers with everything from food for those in need and discounts on local products, to free lunches for children of federal workers through the School District’s food service provider. He explained that the program was designed “to serve as many of our community members as possible and maybe in the process establish a model for other communities across the state and nation.” This program has continued to serve as an outlet for neighbors to support one another during times of crises.
When the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak throughout most of 2020 and 2021 and the Borough faced one of its most difficult periods, Mayor Busch led a series of initiatives designed to help guide residents through the health crisis and ensure the long-term economic viability for both the Borough and its small businesses. On the eve of the shutdown, he explained that, “[t]he scope of this outbreak and the impact that it is having on all aspects of our lives is overwhelming. During an extraordinary time like this, it is especially important that we show one another respect and compassion. Ultimately, this is how we will persevere. We are all in this together; we are #OneMetuchen.”
In response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2021, Mayor Busch established a Borough Equity Commission to help guide the Metuchen Police Department with its policies and use of force procedures. Later that year, when Middlesex Water announced that a chemical in its drinking water exceeded acceptable levels, Mayor Busch led a group of Mayors from nearby towns to file a lawsuit against the utility resulting in Middlesex Water’s elimination of the contaminated water source for all of our respective communities.
Mayor Busch regularly regularly meets with Borough residents as part of his initiative to open Borough government and enhance transparency. He has emphasized greater communication between the Borough and its residents by, among other things, significantly upgrading the Borough’s social media presence and establishing Metuchen Media “to reflect the way residents now receive information.” Metuchen Media now streams all Borough Council meetings and a variety of other informational videos on multiple platforms, including Facebook Live, YouTube, local television channel 15, and on the Borough’s website.
Mayor Busch is a nationally recognized education law attorney who has spent his career serving public entities which has resulted in him being closely familiar with issues facing local governments in New Jersey. He founded The Busch Law Group LLC on Main Street in Metuchen in 2014, which is now one of the largest employers in the Borough, and represents school boards in 18 of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
Mayor Busch is an active volunteer for and is a member of numerous community organizations throughout the Borough, including Metuchen Baseball and Softball, the Metuchen Downtown Alliance, Metuchen Floor Hockey, the Borough Improvement League, the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society, and the Woodwild Park Association.
Mayor Busch received his law degree from Rutgers University, his master’s degree from Columbia University, and his bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland. He and his wife, Kathy, have three boys.