HomeMedford NewsMeet the Candidates: week four

Meet the Candidates: week four

Here at The Sun, we want to keep you informed about the local election coming up on Nov. 5.

We asked the candidates this final question. Make your final pitch. Why should you be elected to Medford Council?

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Below are their answers.

Jeff Beenstock:

Make your final pitch. Why should you be elected to Medford Council?

A complete change in government took place at the beginning of 2012. This current Council inherited unprecedented financial problems. We are on our way to resolving those problems and Medford is becoming a strong, vibrant community again. We must though maintain the stability and cohesiveness of this current Council in order to do so.

Many of the issues facing the Township involve areas of my real estate law practice I deal with every day, such as redevelopment, tax appeals, solar projects, and land use. I regularly draft and review contracts, negotiate deals, and interact with municipal officials. In my time on Council, I have used my skills and experience as a lawyer to prepare ordinances and resolutions and negotiate contracts.

My personality is well suited to bringing people together. I did not know my fellow Council members prior to becoming a member of the governing body. While we had some well-documented differences in the beginning of last year, I recognized that we shared a common interest in wanting to restore Medford. In order to accomplish that goal, we needed to put aside these differences and work together. We overcame our personal differences in short order and were able to listen to each when we disagreed and act respectfully in discussing our thoughts, opinions, and ideas. The result has been that this governing body has effected dramatic positive change in the last twenty-two months.

As I have noted previously, the financial well being of our town must remain the focus. We have had to make hard decisions in our time in office that are not always popular. These decisions were necessary, in my opinion, to restore financial stability to the Township.

It is my job as an elected official to make sure that the Township provides core services while still ensuring that municipal taxes are as low as possible. Police, fire, EMS, snow removal, real estate planning, and, as a result of the referendum, trash disposal and other public works services are core services that a municipality should provide to its residents. There is a direct correlation though between the costs of these services and the tax rate. Medford can provide these services in a manner that fits within our budget. We’ve done this for the last two years. If we continue to do it, we will have more breathing room in our budget as our debt service payments decline substantially over the next few years.

We are still in a transition and there is more work to be done. If re-elected, I will ensure the municipal government continues to provide core services and see to it that Medford is business friendly, while still maintaining the character of our town. With a thoughtful approach to growth, new businesses will reduce the tax burden on homeowners. We must also invest in our infrastructure wisely. Our computer technology, public buildings, vehicles, equipment and roads are all in need of upgrades and repairs. With our budget under control, we will be able to turn to these tasks. Every decision I make has been and will be based on one consideration — what is best for Medford.

We’ve come a long way. The current Council has been working successfully to restore Medford since the beginning of 2012. We know and understand the issues, and have a proven record of dealing with them. The knowledge and experience in running Medford that we have gained over the past two years will be lost if we are not re-elected. I want to finish the job we have started and ask for your support and vote on Nov. 5.

Brett Maria Blyshak

Make your final pitch. Why should you be elected to Medford Council?

Voters should elect me to Medford Council because I will provide the bi-partisan leadership necessary to build a community in Medford which can meet the challenges of the next decade. The decisions that Council will make over the next four years will have far reaching impact.

Our town is truly at a crossroads. Medford can choose to become a leading community by utilizing innovative approaches to solve complex issues facing small towns in a time of dwindling resources, or Medford can continue on its current path of limited growth, high taxes, and minimal services.

I believe that the only way to revitalize Medford is through bipartisan representation because the inherently nonpartisan issues we are facing include:
• the look and feel of Medford;
• the future of the Pinelands library;
• the provision of public services;
• the market value of Medford homes; and
• the management of Medford’s debt.

These issues cannot be resolved by quick fixes or simple solutions. Medford must have leaders who look at the long-range implications of their decisions. These decisions should not be made behind closed doors by a few who are like-minded and only hear the voices of those who agree. I want to be part of Medford’s bipartisan leadership who listen to the dissenters, seek input from experts and consider all of the options before reaching a decision.

Medford is a community not simply a grouping of homes. After meeting many residents, I know how strongly we value belonging to a community. With bi-partisan leadership, Medford has the potential to be a model for utilizing shared services, building private and public partnerships and encouraging volunteer participation to meet the needs and wants of its residents. This is the type of community building of which I want to be a part.

I do not believe that there was no alternative but to raise taxes and cut services to pay down the debt incurred by previous Republican administrations as our opponents would have you believe. I’m not certain that the financial situation was as dire as current Council would have us believe. I do believe; however, that current Council failed to explore all the ways that valued services could be provided to our community without raising taxes. There are alternatives. These alternatives require building consensus and not separating our community along ideological lines.

I know I do not have all the answers. People who know me realize that I never take no for an answer and that I will work tirelessly for all the residents of Medford, not only for those who agree with me. My experiences have value and applicability to the issues facing Medford. My work experience in the private and nonprofit sectors; the hard skills cultivated from practicing law and assisting non-profits in finding ways to meet their budgets; and my willingness to listen and learn from those who have differing opinions make me uniquely qualified to help create the consensus that is necessary for our community to thrive.

I strongly believe that a bipartisan approach is the key to ensuring a secure and prosperous future for Medford. You should elect me to Medford Council because I want to bring my skills and experience to the table and help craft bipartisan solutions to the complex issues facing Medford in the next decade.

Becca Gutwirth

Make your final pitch. Why should you be elected to Medford Council?

When planning their votes for this November, I ask that residents remember that it was Republicans who put us in our current fiscal state. Yes, the current slate of Republicans is doing a good job paying down the debt, but they are doing it rashly and simplistically.

We all know that they chose to increase taxes and decrease services. They’ll tell you they haven’t cut any services, but in the next sentence they’ll say that we are doing fine with fewer police, that they haven’t spent any money on roads in the last year, and that our recreation programs weren’t eliminated, they are just being offered by another entity. They will tell you that government doesn’t have to provide everything that residents were previously getting and that it is council’s job to make certain our taxes are paying only for the needs, not the wants of residents.

Here is the issue: people choose the town they live in based on location, the schools, the house, and yes, the town itself. With the empty storefronts, the degraded roads, the brush piles that sit for months, the locked bathrooms in the parks, and more, Medford is not what it was 10 years ago. Top that off with the fact that we are all paying considerably more in taxes (34 percent more since 2011), and residents should be disappointed with not just previous councils, but the current one as well.

It is time for bipartisan politics and more varied opinions and ideas on our council. It is time for Council to listen to and represent ALL of our residents. I will bring fresh ideas to the table. As a teacher and an employee of a non-profit, I learned to do more with less, not less with more as the current council is doing. I am committed to finding alternative and creative solutions not only to the fiscal problems in the town, but also to improving the overall look and feel of Medford, and restoring its vibrancy. I’ll look to other towns not just next door, but across the country for examples of what has worked and what hasn’t. I’ll follow the best practices identified by the state and open up all records and dealings that can be legally opened to residents. Council relies on executive sessions too often and then forces residents to OPRA documents rather than just making access to public records easy and convenient.

I am not afraid to ask questions, and I’m not afraid to ask others for input and help. It is time we work with all of the members in our community, formally and informally. We have great community organizations like the MAC, the Sunrise and Medford-Vincentown Rotaries, Medford Celebrates, Friends of the Library, and more. It is time we started working together with these groups instead of laying down more obstacles in front of them.

Those who know me personally, know that I am a dedicated hard-worker, and that I put 110 percent into my work and my volunteerism. I have been working or volunteering within Medford since we moved here nine years ago. I have affected small pockets of the population in Medford, and now I ask you to give me the opportunity to work for all of the residents of Medford.

James “Randy” Pace

Make your final pitch. Why should you be elected to Medford Council?

I believe that our democracy is predicated on an informed electorate. The more you know about who, what, when, where and why your government is or is not doing something, the better equipped you will be in addressing it. Rarely do you hear or see elected officials encouraging the public to engage in daily or routine business. It’s just not exciting enough to hold most people’s attention, even if they had the spare time. This apathy allows political opportunists to serve their interests first and put the public trust second.

I am committed to providing as much information to the public as they choose to seek. We have established a Local Government Institute class designed to educate and inform residents. The results have been encouraging. The basic level of understanding of Medford’s municipal government is growing. Civic organization membership is increasing and community involvement is having a positive effect on the township overall. Our form of government begins to fail when the majority of people believe that they can vote for candidates that will provide all the things they want without addressing need and have someone else pay for it.

Chuck Watson

Make your final pitch. Why should you be elected to Medford Council?

I was born and raised here in Medford and have raised my family here living through some very good times and, several years ago, some very tough times in our town. I attended almost every council meetings for three years before deciding that my business experience and my longevity in calling Medford home would make a difference in restoring financial stability and civic pride to our town while maintaining the character of Medford that we all value so much.

Since taking office in January of 2012 I have worked very hard, along with my fellow councilmen, to make the decisions, the hard decisions, that were necessary. The good news is that we have been successful. Starting my term in office with a $6 million deficit, one year later we balanced the 2013 budget with no increase to the municipal tax. We are now living within our means. This was accomplished with the help of volunteers, the support of the community, outsourcing services and programs, and implementing shared service agreements. The programs and services are still provided but now with less of a burden on the taxpayer. Parades, fireworks, festivals, and other events are growing, are better then ever, and are now provided through volunteers and organizations at little cost to the township. Agreements with organizations like the MYAA and YMCA are providing recreation programs and maintaining our fields and facilities.

Five generations of my family have loved living in Medford and the four living here now are depending on me to govern Medford responsibly. I will do my best for them and I will do my best for you. I, along with my running mates, Jeff Beenstock and Randy Pace, ask you to give us your vote on Nov. 5 to keep Medford heading in a positive direction. We won’t let you down.

George Youngkin

Make your final pitch. Why should you be elected to Medford Council?

For 20 years I have served as an appointed volunteer on several Medford boards and committees including 10 years as the zoning board chairman. During those 10 years, I asked both popular and relatively unknown applicants the hard questions that needed to be asked, but I always treated people fairly and respectfully. I never avoided or dismissed a question about a decision I had made, because I knew I had made every decision with every resident in mind.

As a Council member, I would take the very same approach. I would be accessible, listen to and consider diverse opinions, and keep residents informed about what the Council was doing. My approach would be totally different from the all too frequent unprofessional behavior of current Council members and their township manager who attack or dismiss residents whose opinions differ from theirs. Their behavior reveals not only an unprofessional lack of respect but also an amateurish inability to come up with reasoned responses.

Medford has long been a great place to live and raise a family. It is a place many have been proud to call home. Will that continue to be the case? We still have a wealth of natural beauty, strong community organizations, and a rich history, but we need to maintain and constantly improve our community.

I have attended Council meetings since they were held in Cranberry Hall, and I understand the inner workings of Medford’s government. I believe that Medford residents want leaders who can balance the wants, needs, and financial resources of our community, leaders who will make sure that:

• Residences and business are safe
• Roads are maintained
• Recreation programs are open and affordable
• Property values grow
• New and existing businesses want to be in our town
• Taxes remain stable
• Medford establishes and follows a consensus long-range plan.
If you want
• A government that respects and cares about every person and business
• A leader who will not push an ideological agenda
• Valued services in return for their taxes and
• The checks and balances ensured by bipartisan government

Then I respectfully ask for your vote on Nov. 5.

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