Three seek seats in Freehold Township municipal election


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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – One Democrat and two Republicans are seeking a pair of three-year terms on the Township Committee in Freehold Township this year. Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 7.

Democrat Alexander Wisienski is seeking one of the seats that are currently held by Republicans Lester Preston and David Salkin. Preston and Salkin are seeking re-election.

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Preston, who is serving as mayor this year, joined the committee in 2015.

“I am privileged to serve on our town’s governing body,” Preston said. “It has provided me the opportunity to meet and interact with many of the residents and staff who make Freehold Township such a great place to live and to raise a family. I am committed to the success of our town and those residents. I feel I can continue to use my life and work experiences to benefit our community.”

Preston, who is a lifelong resident of Freehold Township, is retired from his position as treasurer and chief financial officer (CFO) of D.L. Ryan Companies Ltd. (Ryan Partnership), a marketing agency.

“In my role as CFO, I was a key member of senior management responsible for determining and implementing the strategic direction of the organization,” he said. “During my tenure, I gained a significant amount of experience managing a large organization, assuming primary responsibility for key areas including budget and forecast oversight, finance, contract negotiation, and strategies and human resources, all of which complement my role as a member of the governing body.”

One issue Preston said he intends to continue to address if he is re-elected is taxes.

“The most consistent issue I hear from our residents, particularly our seniors, relates to taxes,” he said. “While the tax obligation for the township accounts for less than 16 cents on every dollar collected, we must continue to remain diligent in managing the budget. The Township Committee has been diligent and we will continue our efforts in this area.

“For example, in each of the last three years, the Township Committee has delivered budgets under the 2 percent tax levy cap, which has equated to $1.2 million in savings to our taxpayers every year.

“We do this by effectively developing a budget that encompasses the use of shared services, a proactive staffing philosophy, self-insurance, aggressive debt retirement strategies and the effective management of surplus. At the same time, we have been able to retain our key staff and ensure all of our employees make a ‘living wage,’ ” he said.

Additional issues facing the township, according to Preston, include developing affordable housing for seniors and dealing with traffic.

“We also need to identify areas where we can develop market rate housing that is affordable for our senior residents,” he said. “Because of the tax burden in our state, many of our senior residents find it difficult to live in New Jersey. It is important that we continue to work with developers to create senior housing for those residents who want to stay in the area.

“While we are fortunate to have several major ratables like the Freehold Raceway Mall in town, we also have three major highways (routes 9, 33 and 537) whose traffic impacts our life on a daily basis.

“We continue to work closely with county officials on plans for a major upgrade to the Route 537 corridor and we must continue to hold developers accountable to ensure that planned communities adequately address the increased traffic flows associated with that development,” Preston said.

Salkin, who is serving as deputy mayor this year, joined the committee in 1994.

“I live, raise my family and work here in my hometown,” he said. “I love this place and it is a labor of love to continue working for Freehold Township’s residents. I still enjoy the job and the people, and believe that by serving my local government, in a small way, I’m serving my country.”

Salkin is a lifelong resident of Freehold Township. Following a career in the jewelry business, he is now a full-time author and the executive director of the Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce.

If re-elected, the most important issue Salkin said he intends to continue addressing is keeping the township’s tax rate stable.

“Living in New Jersey means the constant struggle to keep the tax rate stable,” Salkin said. “I think residents receive great services for what they pay to the local unit and I know that if they picked up their home and placed it in any surrounding municipality, they would be paying more. That said, we continue to find ways to increase efficiency and productivity, and to do more with less.

“We were a pioneer in interlocal service agreements and we are always trying to find ways to save our residents money while maintaining their quality of life,” he continued. “We are fiscally conservative, with a long-proven record of well-run government. Our AA+ rating saves residents money with favorable bond rates and the reputation Freehold Township has all over the county speaks well of the proven leadership.”

Wisienski is making his first bid for a seat on the Township Committee. He is a retired bus operator for the New York City Transit Authority and has resided in Freehold Township for two years.

He said he previously served on boards and commissions in Staten Island, N.Y., including serving as chairman of the Community Board 1 Transportation Committee and the Port Richmond Area Committee, and on the Construction/Maintenance Committee and Transportation Committee of New York City School Board District 31.

“I decided to run for Township Committee because Freehold Township is governed by one party of politicians with full control over everything,” Wisienski said. “They have total reign.

“Not one person on that committee has offered an ‘objective’ voice for residents, the taxpayers,” he said. “There is no transparency and that leads to complacency. When complacency sets in, deals can get decided behind closed doors with no oversight from a member of an opposition party.

“Such deals can include unfair rulings against residents with legitimate zoning issues and decisions about important environmental issues, like the chemical treatment of Lake Topanemus, with legal notices placed in ‘out-of-town’ newspapers just to satisfy their legal obligation, not to mention the 75 percent cost burden of this treatment when the lake is owned by Freehold Borough.

“Not having any members of an opposition party on the Township Committee leads to wasteful spending, no oversight of spending plans, unchallenged hiring and unchallenged pay increases for politicians,” Wisienski said.

“After 44 years of total one-party rule, our residents are still complaining about taxes, road conditions, sprawling housing growth and traffic congestion. No transparency and no oversight means there is no accountability,” he said.

The issues Wisienski said he intends to address if he is elected are improving methods of maintaining the township’s roads and infrastructure, helping local businesses improve, partnering with the state Assembly to explore options for lowering property taxes to make the township more affordable, seeing more balance in the Township Committee, increasing oversight and encouraging community scrutiny of the Planning Board, and bringing transparency to the township.

Wisienski said one way of improving the maintenance of Freehold Township’s roads and infrastructure would be to establish and maintain regular maintenance schedules. To help improve local businesses, he suggested implementing a program similar to “Shop Marlboro,” which he said boosted sales for local merchants and helped Marlboro residents earn savings on their property taxes.

Republicans hold all five Township Committee seats.

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