Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Dearth of Qualified Candidates in Aberdeen

The Independent recently interviewed the 12 candidates competing for the four open seats on the Aberdeen Township Council. The vast majority of these candidates are woefully under qualified. The only way such people could be elected is that the townsfolk no longer care or have lost all hope for change.

Among the Democrats are Owen Drapkin, Wilhelmina Gumbs, Vincent Vinci, and Janice Gallo. All are present council members except for Gallo, Vice Chair of the town’s Planning Board.

When asked about their credentials, all candidates appropriately cited past service.

Janice Gallo was on the Board of Education from 1997-2003. During her tenure, the school district’s budget ballooned but showed no improvement in the students’ poor performance. While on the Planning Board, she has supported residential development despite their burden on our school system and adverse effect on our property taxes.

Of the three incumbents, all cited infrastructure maintenance and their ability to restrain taxes. But any town council is likely to continue maintaining the roads and sewers and their claim to restrain taxes would be a surprise to any property owner in Aberdeen.

It is outrageous that none of our elected town representatives takes any responsibility for the out-of-control school spending or its dismal performance. They look at our skyrocketing property taxes and say “Not our fault. Not our problem.” The truth is the town could do many things to influence the school’s budget and performance.

For example, the town could fight, as New York City did, to gain control over the school system by obtaining mayoral power to appoint the school superintendent or a certain number of school board members. The town should initiate feasibility studies to use state funding for the construction of super-quite wind turbines on school property. The town could restrain school growth by purchasing the legal limit of Mount Laurel housing outside Aberdeen and severely restricting all new residential development. Lastly, the town has the power of the bully pulpit, to inform the citizenry and call for change.

The democratic candidates have shown no interest in doing any of the above. They prefer the role of “innocent bystander”.

The Republican candidates are Tom Aljian, Anthony Garaguso, Leon Matchin, and former council member John Gartley. Their campaign promise to reduce taxes rings hollow. The only way to actually cut property taxes is to cut school spending and introduce large scale development that doesn’t burden our school system (i.e., commercial, senior citizen, beachfront, etc.). Instead, they’ve chosen to focus on graft, certainly an important issue but not one that will reduce our taxes in any noticeable manner.

The Republican Party also seems to have trouble finding serious candidates. Garaguso and Matchin are new to Aberdeen, have no prior government experience, and it shows. In the arena of big ideas, Garaguso wants to broadcast town meetings over TV or the Internet and Matchin complains that all the really big parks are in the adjacent towns.

Gartley and Aljian are serious candidates and have my endorsement. Both want to expand overall development but not residential development. They recognize that residential development expands student enrollment and causes higher taxes. Both are long-time residents and appear to have a strong grasp of the facts. They’re also likely to do no worse than any of the current council members.

The Green Party is simply not a serious political organization. Among their platforms is to provide environmentally friendly low-income housing. Another is to create a “downtown” area – too bad Main St. is in Matawan, not Aberdeen.

Their candidates are Alice Osipowitz, Philip Petrignami, Paul Rinear, and Mark Teichman. None have any government experience, none display an in-depth knowledge of the town, and none have offered any concrete plans for the future of Aberdeen.

I endorse Republicans Tom Aljian and John Gartley. I will also be voting for Owen Drapkin and Vincent Vinci as the most qualified of the remaining candidates.
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Anonymous said...

You should check out the Aberdeen Green's mailer and website before you go to the polls.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the endorsement of John and I , but I hope you will reconsider your stand in the Leon and Anthony - the rest of the Republican Ticket.

As you know, 12 years of Democratic control of the Council have placed Aberdeen it its current position. A new party brings a new vision and a hope for change.


Tom Aljian
Republican Council Candidate