Monday, November 7, 2011

HT Candidates' Night

At the Hillsborough Township Candidates' Night on October 18th, Democratic candidate Aldo Martinez said during his opening statement that he was applying for a position and he was here for his interview.

In the following hour, Mr. Martinez and his running mate John Reddan were interviewed for the positions of Township Committee person. The Republican candidates were conspicuous by their absence.

The students of the AP US Government and Politics class designed and ran the forum, which was divided into two parts. Part one included the candidates' opening statements, followed by five questions previously chosen by the students. The second half comprised five questions submitted by audience members and candidates' closing statements.

First Half
The topics of the first five questions were town center zoning and the Hillsborough Elementary School property, how the candidates would limit or decrease taxes, the role of the township in adding or attracting businesses, do the candidates believe that Hillsborough is less safe and why, and how the candidates would address a defeated school budget that was before the Township Committee.

Regarding the Town Center Zoning, Mr. Martinez mentioned that the 206 Bypass could have an effect on businesses located on Route 206 and that the Town Center Zoning should be reviewed. Mr. Reddan pointed out that the HES property is valuable.

As for limiting or decreasing taxes, Mr. Reddan stated that he wouldn't do away with any services, but would find the money without any specifics. Mr. Martinez mentioned professional part-time contracts, specific line items, and questioned the addition of the Business Advocate position.

Both candidates felt that attracting and assisting businesses should be one of the jobs of the Township Committee members.

Regarding public safety, both candidates pointed out the decrease in the number of officers while the population has increased. Mr. Martinez mentioned that Hillsborough's FBI crime statistics were up.

When it came to addressing a defeated school budget, the candidates both mentioned working closely with the Board of Education.

Second Half
The five audience submitted questions covered sustainability, shared services, COAH, increasing the openness of government, and cutting taxes and still keeping services.

Mr. Martinez seemed especially knowledgeable about sustainability, feeling that it makes economical sense and is part of the future. Mr. Reddan appeared confused by the topic.

Both candidates supported shared services as long as residents' safety wasn't compromised.

Both candidates recognized a need for some type of COAH housing, feeling it was beneficial to have diversity in choice. Mr. Reddan mentioned the diversity he saw while campaigning and felt that COAH would be helpful to young couples starting out and older couples who may be downsizing.

Regarding openness in government, Mr. Redden felt that there should be more accountability and said he sees some confusion during committee meetings. Mr. Martinez would like to see more openness, suggesting that department heads come in and present their arguments for their budgets in public. He also asked if they can make cuts why haven't they done it?

The final question about cutting taxes and still keeping services, brought Mr. Martinez's general comment that there should be more transparency and fiscal responsibility. He also reiterated that he felt that public safety was important. Mr. Redden mentioned that the township should clarify taxes and the revaluation as he felt they were very confusing.

During their closing statements Mr. Martinez mentioned that his parents sent him to the United States from Cuba when he was 11-years-old. He was here to give his life meaning, find his passion, and to represent everyone.

Mr. Reddan said that he was giving back to the community. In order of importance he mentioned his family, his country, and his party.
Usually when you miss an appointment for a job interview, you don't get the job.
The HNJJ crew has attempted to condense the evening's information from their notes. While we would like to suggest that everyone watch the forum on Channel 14, we have been unable to find it. Quelle surprise!
For the HNJJ's previous post about this forum go here.

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