Plainsboro Committee 2011
PLAINSBORO TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE CANDIDATES QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES
NON-PARTISAN ELECTION INFORMATION
Vote Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Polls are open from 6 AM to 8 PM
Plainsboro Township Committee Candidates Answer League Questions
EDITOR'S NOTE: These are the verbatim responses of the candidates for Plainsboro Township Committee to questions presented by The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area in cooperation with The Princeton Packet. The candidates were allowed to vary the length of their answers to the three questions but were given a word limit for the total.
Candidates – Vote for one (three-year term)
Peter Cantu (incumbent) – Democrat, Retired, Procurement Manager, IBM Corp. and Executive Director of KMM, Corp.
Krishna Jagannathan – Republican, Emergency Medical Services Educator serving economically disadvantaged youth. Website: http://www.KrishnaForPlainsboro.com
What are your three greatest concerns for Plainsboro over the next three years, and how do you plan to address them?
Mr. Cantu: In a difficult economic environment our highest priority will be to maintain one of the lowest municipal purpose tax rates and best bond ratings in the region. I am committed to accomplishing this by continuing our focus on strong financial management, aggressive pursuit of outside funding and maximizing the benefits of the recent arbitration, pension and health benefit reforms.
A second challenge will be expanding transportation opportunities. I am presently and will continue to work with NJ Transit and others in an effort to expand bus service to both Plainsboro and the region.
Plainsboro is recognized as a successful community and this is due to our emphasis on smart growth and good community planning. I am committed to maintaining that focus on adherence to our community plan.
Mr. Jagannathan: High property taxes are forcing residents to leave once their children graduate from our schools. Some of these high taxes are due to our high-performing school district, but much of the wasteful spending stems from decisions made by Mayor Cantu. I would weigh the cost-benefits of every spending decision that comes before the township.
Businesses are fleeing Plainsboro for a variety of reasons ranging from the lack of advertising capabilities to inflexibility with regard to tax code. Some aren’t even invited to be part of our township – just because one man doesn’t want a gas station in Plainsboro doesn’t mean the community shouldn’t consider its addition. We should consider new, innovative business ventures in the township.
The hospital’s relocation represents an important milestone in Plainsboro’s development and the resulting growth will represent an increase in ratables for our town. It is important that growth is managed with input from township residents.
How will a 2% cap on property tax hikes and reduced state aid affect Plainsboro's future spending? How do you hope to remedy whatever problems you see arising from these constraints?
Mr. Cantu: Responding to reductions in state aid and general economic conditions, Plainsboro initiated a program of strong cost and staffing controls. This has resulted in reductions in overall staffing and other efficiencies, and allowed us to meet the cap requirements this past year. These cost controls and the recent reforms in arbitration rules, state pensions and health benefit programs have the potential of providing significant budgetary benefits to Plainsboro. We are currently working with all our unions to fairly implement these changes.
Mr. Jagannathan: Plainsboro has a spending problem. Consistently, the township committee approves every expenditure without challenging it with debate, discussion, or dissention. Even with Plainsboro’s growing bond debt, Mayor Cantu seems eager to spend another $3 million to build a new community center after spending considerable township money just two years ago on a new library.
Plainsboro can avoid even this unnecessary increase by seeking alternatives that include consolidation of services with neighboring towns, management and promotion of smart growth alternatives surrounding the new hospital, and elimination of wasteful spending of our tax dollars.
What public project or policy initiative have you fostered or would you hope to foster, and how might being on Township Committee help in that process?
Mr. Cantu: Over the years, I have provided leadership in a number of public projects and policy initiatives. These have included our open space program, our Town Center and Library Project and most recently our redevelopment project. The redevelopment project is off to a great start, with a skilled nursing facility built and open, and $600 million hospital, a medical office building, a fitness center and a 32 acre park under construction. At full buildout, the project is projected to produce some 4,800 jobs and over a billion dollars in economic benefit annually. Having been involved in the project from the very beginning it is my intention to closely monitor it to ensure that the full economic and other benefits to both Plainsboro and the region are achieved.
Mr. Jagannathan: Plainsboro needs to do a better job supporting our small businesses by facilitating landlord/tenant matters, encouraging participation in township events like Founder’s Day and the Fall Festival, and being responsive to concerns from our business community. Plainsboro also needs to seek input from members of the community outside of formal meetings.
I will host casual “meet and greet” sessions throughout the township allowing residents and businesses to interact with their elected officials. I will also embrace new media as a way of communicating with residents, including improving and expanding Plainsboro’s website to include more direct interaction between the community, residents, and businesses.
MISSION STATEMENT: The League of Women Voters®, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The Princeton Area League seeks new members (men and women) from the Princetons, West Windsor, Plainsboro, Montgomery, and South Brunswick. To become a member or learn more, click here.