Letter to the Editor: Jon Simonson

Jon Simonson provides his take on the upcoming Haddonfield election.

The incumbent group of Haddonfield commissioners are running for re-election, however, unopposed. So the question becomes: why should I vote or for that matter, why is there a need to conduct an election at all?

First and foremost State law requires that an election be held regardless if the candidate(s) are unopposed. However, the second and perhaps most important reason for residents to vote is because traditionally the candidate who receives the most votes is appointed Mayor. Unlike prior years when you are asked to select three from a field of five or more candidates, this year, residents have the opportunity to cast one vote for the individual they feel is best qualified to serve Haddonfield as mayor. In this sense, your vote has more direct impact than a normal election.

Fortunately, Haddonfield residents get to choose from a group of commissioners that have accomplished much over the last four years, and a team that will continue to preserve, protect and improve all that makes Haddonfield a special community.

So a vote for mayor means what? Some believe that serving as mayor is simply the title awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes, but the role of mayor is much more. The mayor leads negotiations, appoints representatives to certain boards and represents the Borough’s interests with the county and state.

With this understanding, I believe John Moscatelli represents the candidate most qualified to serve Haddonfield as Mayor. Over the last four years as a commissioner, John Moscatelli has demonstrated an ability to identify prudent and effective solutions to tough challenges. Perhaps most difficult was the decision to sell the Water and Sewer Utility. John’s education and 20 year career as a Chemical Engineer made him uniquely qualified to assess to the state of the existing infrastructure and identify the multi-million dollar investment that would be required over many years to rehabilitate an outdated and deteriorated utility that was not operating within State standards. Unfortunately, the condition of the borough water utility had been evident for many years and the sustained neglect created a hole so deep that a decision had to be made to protect the long term interest of Haddonfield. As evidence of the magnitude of investment required, NJAW is currently investing 16 million in new mains and pump stations and this is just the start of an ongoing investment to renovate the system.

Another significant endeavor was Commissioner Moscatelli’s commitment to improve the borough’s roads. Not only did he double the budget but he did so with a reduction in borrowing. Much repair remains and John will sustain the improvement program over the next four years.

Although the water utility and road improvement programs represent the most significant accomplishments, Mr. Moscatelli also completed the library renovation, replaced aging borough equipment, installed low-glare lighting on Stadium and Anniversary fields and initiated a special committee of the Planning Board to investigate the concern of citizens regarding new home development and neighborhood compatibility.

Going forward John will sustain his work to improve our infrastructure, reduce flooding, and re-placing shade trees. As a commissioner John will continue to demonstrate his restraint on tax increases through accountable and transparent fiscal leadership. With the final recommendations of the special Land Use Committee forthcoming, John will play an important role in approving and implementing new ordinances and standards to ensure that new development is compatible with our neighborhoods.

However, the most important issue facing Haddonfield residents currently is the re-development of the Bancroft property to insure that whatever transpires is tax neutral, compatible with surroundings and has a minimal impact on school enrollment. The mayor serves as the lead on this project so as we enter the period of negotiation with prospective developers of the Bancroft property, it is crucial that Haddonfield has the most experienced, toughest negotiator at the table. I believe John Moscatelli is best suited for this role. In his career with Shell Oil and Sunoco, John managed multi-million dollar budgets and contracts and negotiated with unions. We can be assured that John will negotiate an outcome that is fair but one that protects the best interest of Haddonfield residents.

I urge every Haddonfield citizen to place one vote on May 9 for the one commissioner you wish to be mayor. My vote will be for John Moscatelli.

Jon Simonson