Meet the Candidates: Priorities and communication

Learn about the candidates' priorities and methods of communicating with residents.

In this week’s edition of The Washington Township Sun’s Meet the Candidates series, candidates running for election on Township Committee discuss their priorities and methods of communication to residents.

Voters will decide who will be elected to fill the seats up for election in the township on Nov. 3. Ballots can be cast either by mail, hand-delivered to the various drop boxes in Gloucester County or by provisional ballot at your district’s polling place.

All mailed ballots must be postmarked before Nov. 3 to be counted. Candidates are listed in reverse alphabetical order by last name.

Vincent Spinelli 

If elected, what would be your top priorities? 

As your Mayor, we will focus our priorities on three strategic initiatives that support our Vision and Mission: 1) Economic Development; 2) Fiscal Responsibility & Transparency; and 3) Tackling the Opioid Crisis.

Washington Township has a Master Plan, but we have no “Master Plan” for Economic Development.  We will embark on an aggressive and progressive Economic Development plan to revitalize the Black Horse Pike and create an identity for Washington Township through the development of a Town Center (not another strip mall).  We will remove the restrictive environment across departments that prohibit businesses to thrive here.   Washington Township, according to South Jersey Magazine, is rated 11 out of 25 in top places to live in South Jersey.  We will remove the mediocrity. Under a Spinelli administration, Washington Township will be open for business.

We will create a fiscally responsible budget with budget and operational spending transparency.  We will eliminate the ‘politics of jobs’ within the municipality and ensure only qualified people are serving their positions; and those positions held accountable with measurable results. I am committed to operational efficiency.  Budgets will be approved and set prior to the fiscal year.  Reports will be made to our residents quarterly.  Our budgets will be aligned and right-sized to meet our objectives.  Under a Spinelli administration, we will be accountable (to you) for results.

The opioid crisis is a growing crisis in Washington Township.  The number of cases of heroin abuse has risen 18 percent over the past two years.  We will continue to work on and expand the current programs in place by law enforcement to include partnerships with key social groups throughout the community.

How will you keep the lines of communication open with residents?

I believe in creating a better Washington Township together, with you.  Open communication with our residents is foundational to achieve this.  We will remove the ‘No Comments’ social media policy.  We will move to live Council and Commission/Board meetings through live streaming and use of our public television channels.   Under a Spinelli administration, we will have open and transparent communications with you. 

I will leverage 30 years of executive/corporate leadership and operational experience to bring unprecedented value to you, enhancing our current services. We will transform the culture of our municipal organization and forge new partnerships to achieve our initiatives.

Please visit spinelli2020.com to learn more – and Make Washington Township Premier AgainTM.

 

Joseph Perry

If elected, what would be your top priorities? 

During my first term, I have stayed heavily involved in the pursuit of economic development  in Washington Township. If re-elected, I will continue the economic development work that added over 200 new businesses to Washington Township since 2017. In just the last six months, we have  been fortunate enough to add 25 new businesses. Within the framework of our economic  development, I will continue to emphasize the need for businesses and renovations to continue the  facelift that is occurring on the Black Horse Pike. Another area in need of redevelopment is the  Delsea Drive corridor, where some economic development is already underway in the area of the  five points intersection. This economic development is important as it assists in stabilizing the  taxes for our residents as we grow our ratables. Many people have talked about doing this in the past; however, with the assistance of Mayor Gattinelli’s administration we have shown that it  works. I’m proud that we haven’t had the need to raise taxes during my entire first term, a trend I  hope to continue into my next four years. As we continue to reestablish Washington Township as a  place where businesses want to be, we will also move toward this being a place where more people  want to live. All of these things will continue Washington Township trending upwards and with  your help this election, you can ensure the future for our community. 

How will you keep the lines of communication open with residents? 

Throughout my term, we have strongly encouraged feedback and interaction with our  residents. The lines of communication have been through social media, quarterly newsletters as well as email and phone. We have regularly conducted face-to-face meetings with our residents  and will continue to do so. These processes have proven successful and any residents in need of  assistance or information will have multiple methods to stay in contact with the elected officials  within Washington Township.

Joann Gattinelli 

If elected, what would be your top priorities? 

Being the mayor of a town this size requires a multi-faceted approach in order to be  successful. My vision for the next four years is to continue to revitalize our town, especially our  main corridors, the Black Horse Pike and Delsea Drive. My goal is to continue to work on our  economic health and well-being by bringing in new businesses, continuing communication with our  existing businesses and continuing to encourage our existing businesses to update their properties  and fill their vacancies.  

The second area in which I will focus is to continue the rehabilitation of our township roads,  parks and buildings. It is important for all of our residents to have safe roads and fantastic areas for  recreation. Throughout the next few months, the Cedar Lake rehabilitation will be complete which  will add another local gem back into the mix for our residents to enjoy. This park will connect to  the bike paths throughout the community for everyone in the area to utilize.  

Our police department has undergone significant changes over the last four years. We are  focusing on our community needs and keeping our residents and children safe remains one of my  top priorities. We will continue to implement new community outreach initiatives and provide our  police department the tools it needs to keep our families safe.  

Last, but certainly not least, I plan to continue to maintain our municipal tax level. My  administration prides itself on the ability to hold the line on municipal taxes throughout the last  four years. It is my belief that with our continued fiscal responsibility and employment of  ingenuity, we can continue this trend into the next four years. 

How will you keep the lines of communication open with residents? 

Throughout my first term as mayor, I have sought to keep open communication with  residents. The township has utilized a robust social media platform to communicate what is going  on in our town. Furthermore, we have launched a smart phone application called Washington  Township One. I will continue an open-door policy in which residents can reach me by phone and  email. We will also continue to use traditional methods of communication such as the Mayor’s  message series in the Washington Township Sun, periodic newsletters and other publications to  further communication with our residents and businesses.

Raymond Dinovi

If elected, what would be your top priorities? 

Within our municipal government, there are a number of issues that I see as my top  priorities. Any decision must first be based on what affects our township residents the most and  that is property taxes. If elected, I will seek to maintain our current services and implement new  ways to improve them to make the township more efficient where possible. One way I believe this  can be accomplished is to continue to work with the business community in our area in order to  offset the tax burden facing our community with new ratables. Another way I believe we can lessen the tax burden, while improving our community and offerings to the residents, is to seek additional grants as they become available and work to acquire additional state funding.  

Additionally, as the restrictions of this pandemic lessen, I look forward to getting back to  our parks with additional community events which strengthen the fabric of Washington Township. Over the last few years, there have been a number of additional events in the parks and around the township and I hope to grow this number of events in addition to bringing back events such as movies and concerts in the park, the food truck festival, the wine festival, car shows, trunk or treat and National Night Out. These events are some of the reasons people come to live in Washington  Township. It is my hope that along with Mayor Gattinelli’s administration, we will be able to bring these improvements to our town and I look forward to continuing the work they have started.  

How will you keep the lines of communication open with residents? 

Communication is paramount for any municipal government, at the end of the day  everything that is being done needs to be transparent and available for the residents to review. In  today’s world, a layered approach is the most effective. The township has done a good job of  keeping the community informed of what’s going on in town, and if elected, I will continue to operate under that spirit. Through social media, e-mail, the townships website, in-person meetings and the  mobile phone application I will push forward these endeavors to keep people informed and be  available to residents who need help.

Anthony DellaPia 

If elected, what would be your top priorities? 

With strong focus on team building and cross-functional communication within municipal government, I will be placing a new and renewed focus on key issues, topics and trends aimed at enhancing the quality of life for residents and businesses in Washington Township. As part of many economic development initiatives, I will be spotlighting the revitalization of Washington Township with efforts focused on developing a “True Washington Township Town Center”. This initiative places focus on Washington Township’s aesthetics including the clean-up of the Black Horse Pike.  A key priority will be to create a business-friendly environment within the township and within municipal government.

I will bring laser-sharp focus on fiscal responsibility, ending irresponsible spending and keeping our tax dollars within Washington Township. Quarterly reports will be generated, with this “open budget” communication clearly reporting on percent of budget goals so that at any given time, Washington Township residents will know where their tax dollars stand. 

How will you keep the lines of communication open with residents?

Open communication and transparency are what Washington Township needs. Residents should be able to ask questions, view data and be involved. I will support open Town Hall forums, where residents can openly attend and address Town Council without being under time constraints. As your elected Councilman, I will strive to answer and support any resident or business that requires assistance from Town Council. It is especially important to keep the lines of communication open between residents and businesses, as they are the ones supporting and contributing to Washington Township.  As such, I will utilize today’s digital media channels to maximize communication, including internet, cable television, social media, and open town hall forums with video footage posted.  

As your councilman, I plan on focusing on budgets, eliminating wasteful spending, developing working relationships with the county and state, supporting existing and new businesses and monitoring economic growth. By successfully managing this, I can then focus on the annually increasing property taxes. Every year our property taxes go up. Now we have “estimated” tax bills, which will most likely be followed by yet another increase in your property tax. Gloucester County is ranked 28th in the highest property taxes, out of all the counties in the United States. This should not be.  When elected, I plan on revisiting municipal spending to benefit the resident. There definitely are opportunities to save money, we just need to elect officials that are willing and able to find those opportunities. 

Giancarlo D’Orazio

-If elected, what would be your top priorities?

In Washington Township we are faced with a few challenges; from high property tax to stagnant local business, roads that need minor and major repairs, land erosion, and a much-needed economic growth.

With proper planning and a thought-out strategy, all of these challenges can be conquered if I am your mayor. 

My detailed messages are available on www.TownshipUnited.net. I offer a proposal in reducing municipal tax by utilizing surplus in an unconventional matter. I will expand the Public Works department by adding more laborers in order to repair potholes and every storm drain. I also offer a perpetual capital investment in order to make major road repairs. This can be accomplished without additional cost to the taxpayers; simply by defunding the political corruption and moving the money to the needs of the community. Since I am retired, I will be the first full time mayor, and I am the first candidate that offers a reduction in municipal tax. Residents will keep more of their money and that should help our business community.  As an independent mayor, I will have the luxury in appointing/hiring on merit, not on the traditional corrupt system in hiring by political affiliations. I will hire the best business administrator available that has a vision in taking Washington Township to the next level of economic growth. One that can open a line of communication between land owners, existing businesses, prospective businesses and the Washington Township administration. I will continue to support public safety and safety in public schools by adding at least one full-time police officer in each school building. This can also be accomplished without additional cost to the taxpayers; as one senior officer retires on a six-figure salary, we can hire two rookie police officers with a salary of $40,000. One replacing the senior officer and one to be added in a school building. 

How will you keep the lines of communication open with residents? 

I will keep lines of communication open with the residents by mailing a periodical with details on the services offered through the year and those unique services (snow removal, leaf pick up, documents shredding events, etc.) that are offered as needed. A periodical is more effective because not every resident communicates via computer.

Meetings with the residents will be scheduled and held in much warmer places than an office. We will be using local businesses, mostly restaurants where people can feel more comfortable, and the business owner makes a profit. 

Richard Bennett

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

As Councilman, my top priorities are fiscal responsibility and economic development. It is time to slow down spending and revisit how we can save money to benefit the taxpayers of Washington Township.  I want to maximize our buying power through consolidating purchasing for the many departments that comprise our Township, including the Fire department, Police department, MUA, School system, Township administration, Library and Municipal service. By consolidating purchasing for these departments, we will save money compounded over time. Customer service will be a priority when dealing with residents and businesses. By developing customer service training and follow-up procedures, we will ensure results with services that are completed on time. By fine-tuning internal procedures, we will enhance, define and build economic development plans, initiatives and successful implementation. 

How will you keep the lines of communication open with residents? 

As your Councilman, I want to make sure your voice is heard, and our administration is transparent with regards to communication. To successfully execute this, I will utilize the township TV station to stream live meetings, including Town Council, Zoning Board, MUA Board and Planning board. We need to be more transparent to the taxpayers. Washington Township taxpayers should know what is going on in these departments. We are the largest municipality in Gloucester County and we should not let the size of our Township be the reason why the municipal government is silent.  

As Councilman, I will be your voice, the voice of the resident, the business owner, the senior, the veteran, the American. Far too often our voices are stifled and I want you to be heard, and as elected officials, we need to communicate to you. I will be an active, not passive, part of our community and will give residents the ability to speak their concerns at council meetings, without time limits, while maximizing transparency in our local Government. We will have open town hall meetings, open communication, residents will be able to comment on social media without having their voices stifled and by utilizing smart technology, will be able to receive and communicate responses to residents. As councilman, I will be your liaison to an open and transparent government.