Early last year, Voorhees Township Committee member Michael Friedman announced he would not seek reelection for his seat, up for grabs last November. With Friedman’s departure, all of the township’s committee members are Democrats following Jacklyn Fetbroyt’s election.
Friedman was first elected in November of 2010, when he defeated Democrat incumbent Dean T. Mazurek by approximately 200 votes. Friedman was reelected in 2013; in 2016, he received the most votes for a Republican candidate in Voorhees Township since 1999.
At the township committee meeting last February, Friedman announced he would not seek reelection due to increased responsibility at his law firm and his desire to have more time with his wife and four kids.
Friedman attended his final meeting as a member of the Voorhees Township Committee Dec. 30, ending his nearly decade-long involvement with the group. During that meeting, he thanked residents for voting him onto committee so many years ago.
“I wanted to get involved at that time after moving to Voorhees three years earlier, because quite frankly, I couldn’t stand the taxes — and I still can’t — and felt like we needed a new voice on committee to bring positive change, a new perspective and, of course, some much needed checks and balances,” Friedman said.
“I’ve never been someone who is comfortable sitting on the sidelines and observing, so I was eager to be a part of the solution as opposed to just complaining.”
Looking back, Friedman acknowledged key components of Voorhees Township he had hoped to improve. Among them is his belief that the township overpays a certain number of professionals and that committee members are allowed to receive “unlimited personal expense reimbursements,” on top of the $3,000 tax dollars allotted for each member.
Friedman also would like to have seen corporate naming rights sponsorship agreed upon with an outside business to bring the township additional revenue.
But he said there are far more positives he remembers about his time with the committee. In his nine years there, Friedman never voted for a tax increase and introduced a solicitation ordinance to the township.
Moving forward, Friedman said in an interview with The Sun that there are a few major topics he hopes are addressed and followed up with as he ends his time with committee.
“Undoubtedly, the most important issue is the transformation of the Voorhees Town Center,” he allowed. “Hopefully the redeveloper that’s been assigned will bring positive change to the town center and bring it back to relevancy.
“The second main issue, I think, is making sure that it’s a place that attracts good businesses and creates an environment that allows them to stay. Unfortunately, that’s not something that I’m seeing currently.”
While he leaves the committee after a nine-year stint, Friedman hopes residents will step up and care about what their elected officials are doing for Voorhees.
“I think it’s vitally important that people continue to get involved,” he noted. “If residents don’t get involved, elected officials can think they can do whatever they want.
“Stand up, speak out and make sure to let local government officials know how you feel, because that’s the only way you get change.”