Meet the Candidates: Priorities and communication

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

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

Voters will decide who will be elected to fill the open 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 a 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.

Chelsea Valcourt 

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

My top priorities are taxes and community and political accountability. Sitting down with local business owners to discuss the challenges they faced will help to create a more streamlined process to opening a business; this will attract more business to Monroe Township. When paired with a strict review of the town’s budget, I believe it will be enough to start to lower tax rates in Monroe Township. I aim to not just keep the rates where they are, but to lower them without cutting the quality of services to our very deserving residents. In addition, I would like to work on creating more community events, particularly for our children and teenagers. I think our Parks & Recreation department has done a wonderful job orchestrating our town festivals and I want to extend the sense of community felt at these events to the rest of the calendar year. Not only will this give our students something to do after school or on the weekends but, it will also allow them to socialize and create personal connections with one another.

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

Lastly, I would like to start holding officials accountable. I believe every resident’s concern is one that should be listened to and treated fairly and honestly.  To ensure this, I propose all public concerns addressed in town meetings to be included in the minutes so residents can track these concerns and make sure they are being handled in an efficient and timely manner. I would also love to work on creating an email account or webpage in which residents can submit concerns easily and from the comfort of their own home. The thinking is, if residents are not required to stand in front of a crowd and speak in order to make their voice heard, they will be more likely to express their opinions and concerns and take on a more active role in their community.Edgar Ruiz

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

If elected, my top priority is to do what is right for the people. I will look for the current problems that have been affecting the community and fix them. At this time, due to COVID-19 the senior citizens of our community and the sick are at the top level of my priorities.

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

I will keep the line of communication open, first by being a good listener. I will make sure that everyone in council meetings are heard, no matter of time restrictions. I will be available before and after the council meetings. I will be quick to listen and slow to speak, always finding the right solution. 

James Reed

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

Holding down the tax rate – especially needed for citizens on a fixed income. Continuing to provide our public safety with the tools they need to perform their duties. 

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

Local news submissions & social media platforms. Also local websites would provide information.

Steve McKinney

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

If I am elected to council, my top priority will be to ensure fiscal responsibility and find alternate means to raise revenue without raising taxes. Monroe Township is an exceptional place to raise a family because of the multitude of services that are provided. Maintaining a high level of service while keeping down expenses can be challenging at times. One area of focus would be understanding the challenges for the businesses in Monroe and how to attract more. More businesses equate to more tax revenue while providing more options to dine, shop and obtain services. The additional revenue will be used to sustain or improve the level of services provided now and to bring on additional services for our seniors, schools and children.  

As a representative of Ward 1, the intersection of Glassboro Rd (Rt 322) and Fries Mill must be addressed. Widening of the roadways and turn lanes are needed. This has been in the works for 14 years. To the credit of those before me, the engineering plans have been approved and the funding has been allocated from both the state and the county. This project is currently waiting for a signature from the State DOT and will need to go to Gloucester County for the final approvals. I will make it a priority to help understand the remaining inhibitors and focus on pulling this project across the finish line.

There is also a need to address road conditions in Ward 1. I would work with the mayor, council and engineers to address the roads in need of repair. 

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

I consider myself to be a personable and even-keeled person. I welcome conversation, perspective and input on the issues.  Please talk to me about the issues that are important to you. The more input and outside perspective gained, the better decisions can be made. Please reach me at stevemckinney291@gmail.com

Please remember that elections this year are by mail only. Please complete and return your ballot as quickly as possible for your vote to count.  You can return it via the postal service or drop it in the secure ballot box at the municipal building. There will be polling locations on Nov. 3 but those ballots will be cast as provisional. There will be no voting machines, and the polling locations will give you the same paper ballot you receive in the mail. Thank you for your consideration.       

Joseph Marino

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

If re-elected, first and foremost will be to be a voice for the taxpayer.

Taxes are always a top priority. As I did in the past, I will come up with ways to bring in new revenue and cut expenses to lower the tax burden on the residents. Along with bringing in much-needed businesses and tax ratables are essential to our community.  We have current redevelopment areas that my committee has established and are consistently meeting with Developers.

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

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit every state and township hard. We may be faced with less state aid. I’ve sat on the Budget Committee the last 2 years. As always, we will need to thoroughly go through every budget item.

Communication is essential during these uncertain times and should always be expected.  My contact information is joe@marinogc.net and my direct phone number is 609-685-6735.

Ronald Garbowski

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

My top priority is to maintain taxes at the lowest possible level without affecting services to our community. This can be done by reducing our power dependence through our current solar conversion. We have taken the no-cost option to upgrade our lighting & HVAC equipment to money saving high efficiency equipment. We continue to reduce operational cost through shared services and consolidation of redundant departmental processes.

This frees up funds to replace costly and aging equipment. We have refinanced pass bonds with the current cheaper bonds. We then have the opportunity to bond for more money at the lower rate. This allows us to start catching up on our road’s improvement program.

We continue to try and attract new business through creative financing. Continuing to attract new business creates jobs, adds ratables to our tax rolls and attracts additional new businesses. These objectives will allow us to maintain a balanced budget and flexibility to grow as our town grows and meet new opportunities. 

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

I‘m currently available at all Monroe Township public meetings to meet with the residents. Residents can also correspond with me through my Monroe Township e-mail site. My phone number is on the Monroe Township Website or they can contact me through the Monroe Township Clerk’s office.  My business cards are also available at the Clerk’s office. These business cards have my home phone number. I return all calls.

Carolann Fox 

If elected, what would be your top priorities?

If elected, first and foremost I will be a voice for the taxpayer.

Taxes are always a top priority. My focus will be to come up with creative ways to generate revenue while thoroughly examining our expenses.  Additionally, I will devote resources towards economic development throughout the Township, with a focus on the Black Horse Pike Corridor and Main Street.

Especially after COVID-19, businesses and residents need all the resources that we can provide. Creating grass-root efforts will be essential since state funding is more than likely going to decrease in the upcoming years. We must be creative with how we respond to these challenges and we need to develop a better support system for businesses in our township. 

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

Communication is essential during these uncertain times and should always be expected. I will always be available to listen to your concerns. My contact information is cafoxmom@gmail.com and my direct phone number is 609-929-7347.

Joseph Broderick

If elected what would be your top priority?

My resolution as the top priority will be to continue working with the Mayor and Council to keep our municipal tax at the lowest possible rates. This past pandemic year has really hurt our residents and will continue causing them grief for months to come, especially losing our homestead rebate and the senior tax freeze. The township must bend over backwards to ensure our people are given every chance to recover from these hardships and I will push and work to keep our tax rate down. I will also research how to find grant money to improve our streets and roads by bringing them up to standard. Grants will also keep our taxes low. 

How will you keep lines of communication open with residents?

Today’s residents are more tech savvy then ever and between the township website and Facebook most people will be in contact. But there is still a good number of residents that don’t have a computer or are not comfortable operating one. I will make myself available by phone to listen to our residents problems and suggestions. Also using the local newspaper as a vehicle for information will go far.