As Moorestown gets back on our feet, even while some of us continue to be without power including my family, we need to remember that the direction that our country will be moving over the next four years will be decided next week as the election fast approaches on November 6, 2012. Regardless of your party affiliation, it is important to take the time to vote for what you believe in so that our country can move forward in a direction that the majority of us want from our federal government. From my perspective, and with all due respect to my fellow democratic candidates, hopefully that is for all republican nominees in Column 2; because we have to change the direction that our country is heading, reinvest in small business, and stop the ridiculous spending and debt from rising that will ultimately harm our children’s ability to have families of their own, their own homes or build their own businesses.
On a local level, fortunately we have smaller issues to deal with but local property taxes are something that can make an immediate impact to our personal financial situations if controlled and reduced. For that reason, our GNP team has talked to and met with thousands of township voters as part of our door to door networking program, during presentations that we performed at numerous committees and organization events, and during numerous open access events where we wanted to provide an opportunity for people to talk to us in person and candidly about what concerns them and enable them to ask our opinions on issues important to their families without a microphone present. That experience has been tremendous in enabling our team to better understand which issues are most important to our community and which require immediate attention versus being able to be deferred as secondary concerns. Without a doubt, reduction of taxes ranked first. Our team is ready, willing, and capable of acting on each of the issues that have been put before us with the underlying consistent message that our goal is to control and hopefully ultimately reduce our current tax burden. Critics can take stabs at each one of us individually, or attempt to blame us for other’s past decisions, but as a united team that is on the same page as our two incumbent town council members, we believe we complement each other’s abilities and that we can contribute to making this town a better place to live for all of its occupants, whether they be republican, democratic, renters, home owners, or even phony patch bloggers. We know the issues, the budget and even minor components of it like what we pay for open space per hundred without needing to ask others. Our team will be one that uses professionals to support us but not purely rely on their opinions without challenging them hard.
Although I respect each one of our opponents for willing to volunteer which some would characterize as a thankless job, there are philosophic differences between our two teams that clearly separate us from one another. We have all seen and heard various video interviews this week that we, as a GNP team, elected not to participate in. Not because we fear anyone or anything that would be asked of us but because it simply didn’t make sense when we have spent the last 8 months getting our message out and talking to folks face to face. Being party to a circus for a blog service where most of the respondents use alias’s (no offense patch) didn’t seem like a priority versus spending that same time reading thousands of pages of reports on issues that matter, reviewing our municipal budget and holding meetings with each of the current town council members for their thoughts on township issues, meeting with township employees to understand the challenges they face and how we can improve them, meeting with every township professional that we currently employ from auditors to engineers, knocking on an additional
1000 doors and/or holding open public events that were designed to give back to all Moorestown voters from both parties including those portions of town that have felt outside the loop in years past. Believe it or not, our team has already been working 7 days a week developing plans to make our town better. If you really want to know more about GNP’s opinions on some of the patch questions, visit the Moorestown Sun article about meeting the candidates where each one of use responded to basically the same questions or contact us before the election. If you want a short overview, the democratic candidates want to spend on solar, new lights, new parking, more redesign of town hall, and few dozen other things including using up to $250,000 alone of the liquor money for a township manager. Our opponents presented ideas for courts which I would agree need to be decided on but failed to understand one of the key reasons a decision has not been made. The governor has made it clear that townships need to work together and share services, including such things as a court. If we rush to create a redevelopment model downtown before at least investigating whether courts can be shared in adjacent towns, we risk the state pulling yet more funding in the future. The reason isn’t just because current council couldn’t figure out the whole puzzle so let’s give them some credit for thinking through the issue on this one as our township manager has been working on this very issue for months.
So what about liquor? Is it time to tap the keg and start a spend-a-thon? Not at all if you ask us. GNP wants to lock the liquor money up and invest it if possible while we attempt to settle the $500M of tax appeals at the state level that could require being paid back which is roughly 10% of our total annual budget, not just the township portion but the entire budget including school. Remember our township income is based on $4.6 billion is ratables being collected. This is a massive issue that could not only eliminate the entire liquor windfall but create further reductions in ratable income for years to come. Reductions in ratable income mean tax increases for those that remain. Which is more important to you because anything that may raise my taxes goes to the top of my list before I talk about more spending? What we have seen in the videos is a continued willingness to spend and one that our township cannot afford, not to mention opinions that are not based on all the information necessary to make a good decision.
With GNP, the township has the ability to elect a cross section of candidates that vary in age, experience and technical ability but that complement and support one another and that will be on the same page as current council members. Conscientious building and moving forward in a positive direction with positive reinforcement is something long overdue. We don’t need new council members coming in and challenging our current incumbent members on decisions made long ago, which has already been the case with the “lets revisit town hall” message coming from our opponents after $4MM has already been spent. I would be the first to say I did not agree with demolishing the old town hall and believe that we could have renovated it instead but I am not that far removed that I think we should derail the direction that previous councils have laid out and invested millions in at this point that were based on professional expert opinions they received at that time. That is non-productive at this point on that issue. I believe my role as an incoming councilman would be to manage the decisions current council is making, control costs for construction and not allow them to exceed current budgets and if that takes pushing back on a contractor’s unsupported request for a change order, I have spent my entire life doing that and consider myself an expert in that arena that will not require any architect, construction manager or other township professional’s opinion to educate me for me to act. Once the low bidder puts up their performance bond, there is no way that project will blow apart under my watch. That being said, not every council member needs to be an experienced professional engineer and/or contractor who have experience in almost every facet of our municipal capital needs but it may be nice to have one. The same applies to a technology expert that has a youthful opinion of how technology can be applied to bring our township current and more user friendly in addition to having a councilman who has spent countless years working on township committees, the RAC and “gets it” versus one whose priority is to install solar panels. Didn’t our president hand out $525 million to a company in solar that went under?
Beyond educating ourselves on the possibility of serving our town, the GNP team has been working hard to build relationships with our elected officials in the event we need to call on them for support all the way from the governor and lieutenant governor on down to our county officials. The opportunities to spend time with our elected officials including Senator Allen, Congressman Runyan, Freeholders Bruce Garganio, Leah Arter, Joe Donnelly, Joe Howarth and Mary Ann O’brien have been great opportunities for our team to build valuable relationships that will only benefit Moorestown going forward. One of the keys to our town receiving benefits is to maintain strong relationships with county, state and in some cases federal government officials so we can call on them when we need them. Our team has been with our elected officials at dozens of events for a reason. Each one of them knows what we stand for and has offered their support to us and our town going forward however they can. I personally believe that having a great relationship with the folks that decide how much school benefits we receive if we can is a positive; and our town’s people should want their council members to be able to contact county and state officials all the way up to Governor Christie if necessary to be heard on issues important to us and have them take the call.
In summary, and like my co-candidates Phil Garwood and Victoria Napolitano, I am extremely proud to be a Moorestown resident and have my family reside in this community and attend our fabulous school system. I can assure you that I will work hard for our community and make decisions that are both fiscally conservative but at the same time do not strangle our town’s ability to stand out as a great place to live. Thank you for all your support in the past and going forward.