Meet this year’s candidates for the Voorhees Township Committee Election — Week 2

vote

Every week, The Sun will ask candidates in the Nov. 8 election for a committee seat to respond to questions pertinent to local issues. This week’s questions:

1.) If elected/re-elected, what new ideas and initiatives would you work toward during your term?

2.) How would you work to attract new businesses to Voorhees while also maintaining a healthy environment for current businesses?

friedmanrep

1.) If elected/re-elected, what new ideas and initiatives would you work toward during your term?

With my re-election to committee, I will ensure that Voorhees will continue to progress on the new positive path we have set for one reason, and one reason only, “checks and balances.” Without the presence of a minority component to local government, it becomes stagnant, stale and fails to progress, while becoming vulnerable to corruption, which is what has unfortunately happened here in Voorhees.

That said, among other initiatives I have introduced this year (such as our Solicitation Ordinance and Resolution supporting the Fairness Formula, which would bring $13.8 million in state aid back into our school district), I will continue to promote the idea of truly “partnering” with businesses in town in the forms of commercial sponsorships and naming rights arrangements. These reciprocal relationships would not only be beneficial to businesses that would be more widely promoted in Voorhees, but it would also create an infusion of revenue for the township not previously seen before. Businesses would truly feel like they are a part of the fabric of Voorhees Township while at the same time residents would see property tax relief. A true win win! This past year, I introduced our town’s Commercial Naming Rights/Sponsorship Ordinance to Township Committee, which passed with full bi-partisan support, allowing these potentially lucrative naming rights agreements to take place.

Additionally, as part of the fight against cronyism and corruption, I will propose an Anti-Cronyism Ordinance that no former township committee members can receive township jobs where they are eligible for pension and benefits and/or earn $80,000 or more. Voorhees residents deserve better and should not have to pay surcharges so political friends of the majority can be rewarded with cushy government jobs.

Finally, I will focus an increased emphasis on transparent government with an ever-improved website and avenues to ensure any and all government information is available to residents at the drop of a hat.

2.) How would you work to attract new businesses to Voorhees while also maintaining a healthy environment for current businesses?

As a township, it is essential that we continue to partner with and market our valued businesses while making Voorhees a desirable place for new businesses. As noted above, I will steadfastly promote our commercial sponsorship/naming rights vehicle to partner with both potential new businesses as well as current businesses in town, which will benefit them in the form of new, widespread promotion. Continuing to include all of these businesses as sponsors at township events such as Halloween in the Park and the Summer Series is also essential to ensuring these businesses continue to feel part of the fabric of the town.

Second, we must refocus efforts on our “Shop Voorhees” Property Tax Reward Program, which I have championed from its inception. Under this program, residents shopping at local participating merchants have received rebates on sales and services in the form of property tax credits (and renters have received checks at the end of the year) and participating businesses have received more exposure and traffic. This has helped our local economy, but we have more work to do to ensure more local businesses come online to this program. With significantly more businesses in the program, we will have lower vacancies, higher ratables, new jobs and lower property taxes.

Third, we must ensure the zoning, planning and permitting process is made as easy as possible for new and current businesses alike to navigate. Accordingly, I will propose that committee undertake a review of the entire process to discern whether we can make the process more efficient. I will also push to ensure our EDC director serves as a liaison to such businesses.

Lastly, I will continue to support the great work of our Voorhees Business Association where I have been a member for the last seven years. The VBA’s efforts to bolster local businesses and the community as a whole has been unparalleled since its inception 20-plus years ago.

fanellidem

1.) If elected/re-elected, what new ideas and initiatives would you work toward during your term?

If elected, my first initiative would be to further enhance our public safety by creating a Citizens Public Safety Advisory Committee with township officials and local leaders.

The purpose of this committee would be to have an exchange of issues and information between Township Committee, the school board, our first responders and residents. This year, Mayor Mignogna, Deputy Mayor Ravitz, Committeewoman Nocito and Committeeman Platt were proactive by voting to put more police in the schools and more police on our streets in these difficult times.

Unfortunately, my opponent voted against these safety measures and did not put the safety of Voorhees children and families first.

Public safety and security are paramount and the highest obligation for members of Township Committee. The Citizens Public Safety Advisory Committee would include a member of Township Committee, a member of the local and regional school boards, our chief of police, a fire and EMS official and interested members of the public who can share ideas and help form an even safer and secure Voorhees.

Nothing is more important than protecting the safety and security of Voorhees residents and their families.

My next initiative would be to consider retaining a professional grant writer. Unlike my opponent, I do not believe that raising taxes is the only way to generate revenue for the township.

By hiring a professional grant writer, Voorhees Township can apply for and receive even more grants from all levels of government and outside sources. As federal and state grant opportunities become harder to obtain, Voorhees will have a competitive advantage over other towns.

This will help take the property tax burden off of Voorhees taxpayers, which is one of my top priorities.

2.) How would you work to attract new businesses to Voorhees while also maintaining a healthy environment for current businesses?

I have been a volunteer member of the Voorhees Planning Board for 20 years and have served as its chairman for the last eight years.

I am proud of my record of attracting new businesses to Voorhees while at the same time making sure current businesses thrive.

Along with Mayor Mignogna, former Mayor Platt and other Planning Board members, we approved the $500 million state-of-the-art Voorhees Virtua Medical Campus.

This project created more than 1,000 new jobs, resulted in millions of dollars in new ratables and provided a $10 million sewer project that was not paid for with taxpayer dollars. The project also led to the successful “Medical Mile.”

I was also fortunate enough to work on and approve the redevelopment plan, which turned the once failing Echelon Mall into the Voorhees Town Center with its thriving “Restaurant Row.”

Through my service on the Planning Board, I have a proven record of bringing dozens and dozens of new businesses and thousands of new jobs to Voorhees.

During my term on the Planning Board, Voorhees has experienced

the greatest economic growth in its history.

At the same time, we have constantly reviewed our Master Plan to promote smart growth development so as to not over develop our town or compete with existing businesses. Unlike my opponent, who has not produced one new job for Voorhees, except for his own position on Township Committee, I have been a job creator for Voorhees and will continue that effort.