South Brunswick Township Council 2000
2000 VOTERS GUIDE
NON-PARTISAN ELECTION INFORMATION
Vote Tuesday, November 7, 2000
CANDIDATES FOR SOUTH BRUNSWICK
The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area is a nonpartisan, non-profit volunteer organization which works to promote active, informed participation of all citizens in their government. The League provide nonpartisan information on public issues, and takes action on issues after member study and consensus. In publishing this material, the League neither endorses nor rejects the views of any candidate quoted.
All candidate information in this guide was compiled from candidates' responses to questionnaires. Replies are printed in the candidates' own words, without editing or verification. Due to space limitation, the candidates were given a word limit for replies. Incumbents are indicated by and asterisk (*).
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Copyright 2000 by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area
The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area submitted the following four questions to all candidates for South Brunswick Mayor and Township Committee:
1. South Brunswick Township has acquired 276 acres in the last three years, yet neighboring communities like Monroe have acquired 1082 acres, Plainsboro 530, and West Windsor 588. What are your recommendations for our township to increase the acquisition rate and how would you propose to utilize more money from the county and Green Acres funding?
2. How would you respond to senior citizens on a fixed incomes who vote down every school budget not because they don't want better schools or education for township children, but fear the possibility of being forced to move from their longtime home because they cannot afford any additional property taxes?
3. South Brunswick is currently revising its Master Plan. What specific recommendations would you propose for smart growth planning and reducing sprawl?
4. What are your ideas for traffic relief and/or mass transportation?
CANDIDATES FOR SOUTH BRUNSWICK
Vote for Three
Term: 4 Years
Address:1513 Mahogany Court, Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852
Education:New Brunswick H.S., 1959
Occupation:Middlesex County, Records and Archives Department
Significant Community Activities:Councilwoman; President- AFSCME Local #3440; Middlesex County Workforce Investment Board; American Cancer Society Jail & Bail Committee
1. South Brunswick has 349 open space acres (Beech Woods, Friendship Park, the Old Road piece, Harvest Woods, the Heathcote extension, the Ireland Brook Park, and the Broadway/Friendship Road piece) and we're continuing. We're engaged in negotiations for 336 additional area:for more land along Broadway and for the Davidson Mill Park, and for the Bashaw piece. Meanwhile, this administration's put 2,750 acres of our town's southern tier into a designated farmland preservation area. I'm proud to be part of the team that's working hard to preserve open space.
2. I've worked a lot with seniors and I recognize that property taxes are a concern. Like everywhere in New Jersey, most property taxes go to the schools. Our school district does a good job educating our kids, with the average per-student cost well below the regional average. But there's the risk of taxes becoming so cumbersome that seniors are forced to move. To fight this, we've put the brakes on high-density residential development. This will slow the growth rate in our school district. We've been successful and you see that with the total tax rate having been stabilized these past couple of years.
3. The Master Plan should incorporate the work of our citizen groups and should provide for the preservation and beautification of the village and hamlet areas throughout town. We must consider future growth in the town and determine the facilities that the schools, the library, our emergency services, and recreation groups will require to provide top-notch services.
4. South Brunswick must weigh the pros and cons of a train station. Because of the impact of that decision, it mustn't be politicized. It's clear that mass-transit should be upgraded. We've worked with Middlesex County to provide bus service from the Route 130 Park-and-Ride along Georges Rd. to the New Brunswick train stations. We've also worked successfully to get traffic signalization at problem intersections throughout town.
Address:1301 Juniper Court, Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852
Education:Middlesex County College - A.A.S.; Rutgers University - B.A.; New Jersey Institute of Technology - B.S.
Significant Community Activities:Planning & Zoning Boards - Member; South Brunswick Family YMCA - Board of Managers; Stony Brook Regional Sewerage Authority - Commissioner
1. With the town's fund and county government, we'll have about 700 acres in the open space inventory by year's end. Also, 2,700 acres have been designated for agricultural preservation. That's a good record, but we can't rest on it. We've got to preserve as much open space as we can so our children inherit South Brunswick's natural and agricultural heritage.
2. Our team's done a great job at stabilizing property taxes. Any long-term tax stabilization plan must include putting the brakes on high-density residential development. These past two years I've been on the Planning and Zoning Boards and, in that time, only a few new houses have been approved. Compare that to the previous decade, when Republican-led boards approved an average of 600+ new houses each and every year. Consequently, our school board has been wrestling with an explosive growth rate. By slowing such development, school population growth will level. That'll provide long-term stability to property taxes.
3. The Master Plan should eliminate high-density residential zones. By fighting sprawl, we provide stability for our schools, we can manage traffic more effectively, and we'll preserve the natural environment in our town.
4. I think mass transit services in South Brunswick have got to be upgraded. New jitney routes are already being established, and we've got to upgrade park-and-ride facilities, too. We need to keep pursuing intersection improvements like the just-completed signalization of Beekman Road and Route 27. We also need to look at providing a train station on the Northeast Corridor line, but we can't politicize it. The Republicans, by issuing an ill-conceived press release designed to create an election-time issue, led NJ Transit to believe that our town would swallow the M-O-M line through Dayton and Monmouth Junction because NJ Transit might not build a train station if we don't. We just can't have these antics with such an important issue.
JOE DEL GUERCIO
Address:1 Lackawanna Ct. Dayton, NJ 08810
Education:BS in Finance 1990 Seton Hall University; CLU 1996 The American College; ChFC 1998 The American College
Community Activities:Vice President South Brunswick Chamber of Commerce; Treasurer Dayton Village Citizens' Coalition, Board of Managers South Brunswick Y.M.C.A.; Co-chair South Brunswick Police Quality Assessment 2000 Team; Coach and Sponsor South Brunswick Athletic Association and South Brunswick Soccer Club.
1. South Brunswick can increase acquisition of open space by better utilizing our Open Space Trust. $5 million recently spent for property on Route 1 would purchase many more acres in a more suitable location. Passing a local historical preservation act would encourage private organizations to preserve property in partnership with the state. In 1999 Governor Whitman signed the Garden State Preservation Trust Act preserving 1 million acres over the next 10 years. We should take advantage of this along with grants and low interest loans from the Green Acres Program to preserve farms, forests and watersheds from development. Such land should be linked together providing a corridor for recreation and wildlife.
2. I care deeply about all taxpayers, especially seniors. While recently doing financial planning for a senior citizen, I discovered she applied for the NJ S.A.V.E.R. and Homestead Rebates, but never heard of the NJ Property Tax Reimbursement Program that freezes property taxes at 1997 rates for eligible Seniors. Seniors should call the hotline at 800-882-6597 to verify eligibility. It may help you keep your house.
3. I'd downzone the 126-acre tract on Northumberland between Major and 522. That property received bonus density permitting construction of 6 homes per acre because 15% are low/moderate income. Remedies exist to rezone it for only 1-2 homes per acre. Doing this will prevent construction of 5-600 homes and related sprawl.
4. South Brunswick needs a commuter train station off Route 1 on the Northeast Corridor line to serve our growing population. Many of our citizens work in cities along that line such as NY and Philadelphia. Past studies show that the station will reduce traffic in South Brunswick, improve quality of life and enhance property values. Fighting against the M.O.M. line and Rt. 92 is crucial to prevent congestion.
No response received.
Address:1 Ellis Court, Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852
Education: B.A., Douglass College (Rutgers University), 1977
Occupation:Assistant Director of Housing, Rutgers University, where I have worked in various capacities for 23 years
Significant Community Activities:Member, Friends of the South Brunswick Library; Vice-President, South Brunswick Republican Club, 1998-present; Corresponding Secretary, SB Upper Elementary School, 1999-2000; Chair of the SBUES Yearbook Committee, 1998-99, 1999-2000; PTA member, Monmouth Junction School, 1994-1998; Designed and staffed the Monmouth Junction School float for the Bicentennial Parade; New Brunswick Republican Organization, member, 1990; Chair of the New Brunswick Republican Organization, 1991-92;
Secretary of the New Brunswick Republican Organization, 1990-91; City Council Candidate, New Brunswick, 1992; Member, Republicans for Environmental Protection;
Active in youth sports, have a coaching certificate
1. Quality is more important than quantity. Property purchased on Route 1 is overpriced and unsuitable for use. Let's create recreational space around residential areas as a legacy to our children. Let's aggressively look for money to purchase space now, before it's gone. Funds could come from the budget as a line item, and through actively seeking grant and other monies.
2. I sympathize with seniors affected by increased property taxes, especially those on fixed incomes. This is also true of families who can't afford to live in the very community they grew up in! I implore seniors to take the same educational care of this generation's children as they did with the last to make sure these children have the best education possible. I challenge them to make their voices heard by taking an active role creating school budgets that are comprehensive, but realistic.
3. Cities are eroding as quickly as open space in rural and suburban areas. Cities fill a vital role-we must preserve them. We should offer as much of our Affordable Housing allocation as possible to such urban areas. New Brunswick has done a remarkable job in utilizing these funds for new housing stock. We should help their efforts. This will help stop approvals for high-density housing proposals here in South Brunswick, allowing opportunities for down-zoning.
4. Clean, efficient convenient mass transportation is critical to South Brunswick. People moved here understanding a train station on the Northeast Corridor was coming. The M.O.M. line is not the answer to these needs. However, a South Brunswick train station for our commuters will reduce the amount of cars on our roads at critical times. We need to widen Route 1 and complete Rt. 522 with clearer signage directing truck and other traffic to the roads designed for it.
TED VAN HESSEN*
Address:207 Fresh Ponds Road, South Brunswick, NJ
Education: University of Maryland, 1978-1981
Significant Community Activities:Elected to three consecutive terms as member of local governing body, served as mayor in 1996, deputy mayor in 1995; Appointed to Board of Trustees, South Brunswick YMCA (1996- present); Co-chair, Anne Frank in the World:1929-1945 (1995-1996), the first municipal sponsorship of this exhibit in the United States; Chair, Mayor's Ball (1993-1994); Appointed to Board of Trustees and elected president, South Brunswick Education Foundation (1992-1993); Middlesex County Republican Committeeman, 1992-1994, 1998-present); Member of numerous boards and committees (1992 - present) including, Board of Health, Planning Board, Environmental Commission, CATV Commission, Transportation Advisory Committee, Recreation Advisory Committee, Shade Tree Commission, Affordable Housing Authority, Human Relations Commission, Open Space Advisory Committee, Citizens Budget Advisory Task Force, Rail Line Task Force and Municipal Alliance Task Force; Member, Friends of the South Brunswick Library and various ad hoc local groups
1. The first step is to make more efficient use of the resources we already have. The purchase of property on Route 1 at nearly $58,000/acre wasted $5,000,000, or 15 years of our open space funding, on a single, over-priced and ill-advised transaction. Second, I will seek to increase our funding for open space by including direct township funding of an additional $1,000,000 annually to supplement the two-cent open space tax. Finally, when we acquire passive-use land, Green Acres funding is ideal and must be sought aggressively.
2. State law dictates education funding through property taxes. Our community is a desirable place to live and for our children to be educated. This desirability, however, creates market demand. Fortunately, it is that very demand for outstanding education and programming which enhances and protects our property values. Individual communities place varying value on public education - in South Brunswick, quality education and outstanding extracurricular programming should remain a priority.
3. Smart growth planning and sprawl reduction begins with decreasing densities - reducing forever the number of homes anyone can build. I will do all I can to reverse the recent rezoning of lands which increased densities, and will continue to reject any future attempts. Finally, commercially zoned property must never be rezoned for residential construction.
4. Traffic relief and mass transportation are both critical to our community. Together with reducing residential densities, we must fight for a much needed Route 1 widening, critical improvements to Route 27, and completion of all sections of Route 522. While we must continue to vigorously oppose the M-O-M rail line, a fiasco, which provides no relief to South Brunswick, we must ensure a train station is built for local commuters on the main line.