Hopefuls lay out their plans

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Cherry Hill Sun

Candidates were able to summarize their platforms and get in some final thoughts on the upcoming election, as about 150 people attended a “Meet the Candidates” forum last week hosted by the Barclay Farms Civic Association.

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Democrat candidates Susan Shin Angulo, David Fleisher, Jim Bannar, and Jacquelene Silver squared off against Republican candidates Phil Guerrieri, Nancy O’Dowd, Dan Loveland, and Susan Badaracco for an hour and a half, answering a number of questions from the audience.

Both parties agreed that holding the line on taxes, limiting costs, and finding more shared services in the township were a top priority, but did differ on some key issues.

The one-party rule in the township for the past several decades has led to a decline in government leadership and communication between Cherry Hill residents, Guerrieri said.

“I’m very dissatisfied with the leadership in the township. This has to do with one-party rule. I’ve been here for 26 years and one party has been in charge of the government since that time,” he said. “It’s time for a change. We can look at what’s going on and I know we’ll be able to reduce taxes.”

O’Dowd agreed with her fellow Republican candidate and said the township council needs new ideas and “fresh noses to look under the tent,” to find out where the money is going within the township budget.

“It’s become increasingly difficult for people to live here because of the cost. I think the big reason for that is the pay-to-play that goes on in this township,” she said.

Fleisher disagreed and defended his Democrat candidates. All of the candidates would bring fresh ideas and new perspective if elected to council, he said.

He also cited his past record on the township council, voting several times for budgets with no tax increase.

“There is a difference between the two groups. We believe you don’t have to tear things down in order to build them up. We have the proven track record of independence … I’m proud of my record. I’m proud to have voted for four budgets with zero tax increase, supported a budget this year with a tax decrease,” he said. “No one’s perfect, and we never claimed to be.

“But, you will not have four people with greater integrity working harder for you.”

Bannar agreed with Fleisher, vowing to do his homework and educate himself on the issues facing Cherry Hill if elected.

“You need to educate yourself on the subject matter enough to make the tough decisions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, reaching out to others provides a greater perspective and a greater understanding of differing opinions,” he said.

Loveland cited his business experience and his accomplishment of saving his company $17 million a year through altered business practices as his main strength for his run at council.

Using the same techniques, he said he was confident he would be able to hold the line on taxes.

“I’ve had the same conversation with people that are in similar situations. Talking about moving out of the town because of the tax rate, and that’s not right,” he said. “I can sit and complain about it, or I can apply what I’ve been able to do.”

Her experience on the board of education would translate well over to the township council, Badaracco said.

In 2005, the high schools in Cherry Hill were plummeting in the state rankings and the budgets were out of control, she said.

After her completed term in 2008, Badaracco said the high schools were back up in the rankings and the budgets were back down.

“I’m deeply concerned over the state of Cherry Hill taxes. Municipal taxes have skyrocketed 32 percent last year alone,” she said. “People in the township have told me they will have to move. I know we can do better.”

Democrat candidate Silver also cited her experience in the school district as a special education teacher.

She said she would bring a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective to council and strengthen communication with residents.

“Community doesn’t happen in town hall, it happens in our neighborhoods. It happens when neighbors pull together with a common purpose, keeping Cherry Hill vibrant and strong, leading us into a brighter future,” she said. “We must preserve our quality of life and protect the services we rely on while being fiscally responsible and holding the line on taxes.”

Angulo said soliciting the advice and ideas from residents on issues facing Cherry Hill is key for future success in Cherry Hill.

“We’re going to ensure that we communicate effectively and efficiently. I’m a resident too. I want to know what my issues and concerns are in my neighborhood as well,” she said. “We will continue to knock on doors.

“Please, if there is an issue or concern, we want to hear from you.”

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