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Woodbridge council candidates in the running

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WOODBRIDGE — Two candidates are vying for each of the five, four-year ward seats in the upcoming election.

Ward 1: Democratic Incumbent Nancy Bader Drumm will face Republican Candidate Lori Vernachio Greiza.

Nancy Jean Drumm, 58, who is a lifelong resident of the township, is seeking her second term on the council. She is married with two adult children.

Drumm is a graduate of Woodbridge High School. She is the membership director at the Woodbridge Chamber of Commerce.

In the community, Drumm is a member of the St. James Advisory Committee for St. James Elementary School in Woodbridge, a member of the Woodbridge Elks Lodge No. 2116, a member of the Municipal Alliance, supporter of the Relay for Life Cancer Advocacy Group, the Mayor’s Wellness Committee, and on the Green Team Advisory Group-Buy Local Subcommittee Lead.

“I am running for a seat on the council because it is an opportunity for me to make the commitment that is necessary to be the representative and the voice for the people and local businesses in Ward 1,” she said. “My professional background has prepared me for town council.”

Drumm said her skill set includes, but is not limited to, managing her own medical billing company. She said her employment history has always been in serving the needs of the customers and leadership roles in the private and public sector.

She said her experiences, both professionally and personally, have led her to be best suited for the position of councilwoman for the First Ward in Woodbridge Township.

“First, I am a lifelong resident of Woodbridge, working and raising my family here,” she said. “I am proud to say my children are the fifth generation in Woodbridge. As I look back on my past experiences as a resident of Woodbridge Proper, caring for my family and the residents [in Woodbridge], has always been my focus. Raising my children here has given me the opportunity to take on many volunteer roles in their respective academic and religious schools, sports teams and scouting as well as serving as a council committee member for the past 14 years.”

On council, Drumm said she has met dedicated parents, coaches, and individuals who have, together with her family, given the whole community at large a whole lot to be proud of.

“Once my children were out of school, I continued to support our community, maintain friendships, and working full time at the Woodbridge Community Center as a membership director,” she said. “This work created an opportunity to not only support our residents of all ages through wellness and enrichment, but also gave me the opportunity to develop community relationships with local businesses. With my current position of Chamber of Commerce membership director, I feel that I have found my niche and am very involved with our local businesses.”

Lori Vernachio Greiza, 49, who is a lifelong resident of the township, is seeking her first term on the council. She is married with one teenaged son.

Vernachio Greiza earned her bachelor’s degree from Rosemont College. She is a certified social worker, licensed nursing home administrator and realtor.

“I am not any different from most of the resident of Woodbridge,” she said. “I have a son in the school system and elders in senior services. My husband works in Woodbridge. We own a home, worship and patronize local businesses.”

Vernachio Greiza serves as the first vice chair of the Woodbridge Township Republican Organization and serves on the county committee.

“I am running for a seat on the council to give the residents of Woodbridge a choice,” she said.

If elected, Vernachio Greiza said she would like to focus on quality of life issues.

“People are concerned that they will no longer be able to afford to live in Woodbridge,” she said. “The residents want a safe and affordable place to call home.”

Ward 2: Newcomer Democratic candidate Howie Bauer Jr. will face Republican candidate Paul Lund Jr. Longtime Ward 2 Councilman Richard Dalina is not seeking reelection.

Harold “Howie” Bauer, 52, who is a lifelong resident of the township, is seeking his first term on council. He is married with two adult children.

Bauer is a Woodbridge High School graduate. He is a distribution foreman with Southern Co./Elizabethtown Gas company.

In the community, Bauer is currently the volunteer fire chief for Fords Fire Company No. 1. He has served with the fire company for 15 years. He is the past president and he sits on numerous committees within the organization.

Bauer also served as lead advisor for the Fords Fire Company Youth Explorer Program; is the executive board recording secretary with the Woodbridge Township Youth Recreation Committee; first vice-president of the United Exempts Firemen’s Association of Keasbey, Fords and Hopelawn; and is a trustee of the Woodbridge Township Fire Officers Association.

He is consultant, the past president, executive board member and manager/coach for the Fords Clara Barton Baseball League.

“As a lifelong resident of Woodbridge Township, I have a vested interest here and want to ensure this community prospers and grows,” Bauer said. “I have been an active member of our community through our volunteer fire company and youth sports. With a hands on type of work style and a positive attitude I can help the Council become more effective to benefit all the town residents.”

If elected, Bauer said he will work hard to be responsive to the needs of the residents, listen to all views and uphold the community’s best interest.

“The one area I would like to work on as a council member is with the youth of the community,” he said. “They are our future and today we live in a world where there are so many distractions. As a youth coach I saw many kids face the everyday challenges of life. I want to make sure we keep up and improve on a reliable support system, access to resources, and the pursuit of their goals. By improving on their development, we open pathways thus enabling them to become a responsible part of our community.”

Paul Lund, Jr., 54, who is a lifelong resident of the township, is seeking his first term on the council. He is married.

Lund earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Rutgers University and earned a special education teaching certificate from Georgian Court University. He is a high school math and science teacher.

In the community, Lund serves as a committeeman for the Woodbridge Township Republican Organization.

“I am running for a seat on the council so that I can see firsthand the inner workings of the municipal government I have supported with my generous tax dollars for so many years,” he said. “I want to see if there are any opportunities to cut costs, curb over development, support initiatives that can improve the quality of life for residents in need or distress.”

Lund said he is keenly interested in planning and development because he is personally concerned about all the new housing units going up around Woodbridge including the giant one in his backyard.

Ward 3: Democratic Incumbent Cory S. Spillar will face Republican candidate Kevin Garcia.

Cory S. Spillar, 43, who is a lifelong resident of the township, is seeking his second term on the council. He is married with three children.

Spillar earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Middlesex County College and a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Kean University.

He has been a fire official with the Avenel Fire Prevention Bureau since 2003.

Spillar said he and his family are very involved in the community with Woodbridge Township Recreational program, extra-curricular programs and St. Andrew’s Church of Avenel.

He is a life member of 20 plus years with the Avenel Fire Company serving all rolls including chief in 2006 and fire company president from 2007-2013. He served as president for the Avenel Fire Company’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2013.

He said as fire official for Avenel Fire Prevention, it allows him to visit the children in the schools on a weekly basis to discuss fire prevention.

Spillar is a third degree member of the Avenel Knights of Columbus, serving on the board of governors and an auxiliary member of the Avenel Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7164, he is the chairperson for Avenel Community Day and sits on the Port Reading Day Committee.

“I am running for re-election so I can continue to provide the residents of Woodbridge Township all the great services and programs the Township has to offer,” he said adding that he takes the role and responsibility of council person seriously.

Spillar said he enjoys working on all aspects and issues that might arise within the Township with great support from Mayor John E. McCormac, the administration and council.

He said one area that he is particularly heavily involved in is redevelopment.

“I sit on the Redevelopment Agency as a commissioner,” he said. “I would have to say that probably at least 60 to 70 percent of the ongoing redevelopment happening in the township, is taking place in the Third Ward. It’s very important to remove vacant or unfit properties and construct new, thus improving the conditions of the area and bringing jobs to the Township.”

Kevin Garcia, 53, who is a 24-year resident of the Port Reading section of the township, is seeking his first term on the council. He is married with two adult children and two grandchildren.

Garcia is a retired police officer from Jersey City. He currently owns an Allstate Insurance Agency in Woodbridge.

In the community, Garcia said he was involved with baseball and basketball as a coach when his children were young. He currently helps out two local churches with the bingo at St. Anthony’s in Port Reading and St. Andrews in Avenel on a monthly basis. He does a food drive at his office to support local churches.

“The reason I’m running for this council seat is because I believe I am the best person to serve my neighbors,” he said. “My neighbors have asked me to run for this seat over three years ago because they are tired of this administration.”

Garcia said his neighbors have shared many areas of concern in the township, which include crime and taxes.

“They are tired of all the apartment complexes going up in Woodbridge, particularly in Avenel,” he said. “Most of my neighbors move to the suburbs to get away from all the apartments and traffic. My family and I can relate. Also, all the apartment complexes are getting 30 to 35 year tax abatements, which means that the builders don’t pay their fair share of school taxes, they are passed on to the homeowners, meaning us.”

Also, Garcia said there are children from the new apartment complexes going to the already crowded schools, which also causes taxes to go up.

“We have to find a way to lower taxes, not increase them every year,” he said. “As a retired Police Officer, I believe I can be of assistance to the hard working Woodbridge police officers, who do a great job every day in our neighborhoods. Also, I’m running for council because I know it’s the right thing for our neighborhood. I’m not looking for a job.”

Ward 4: Democratic Incumbent Virbhadra N. “Viru” Patel will face Republican Candidate Paul Danielczyk.

Virbhadra N. “Viru” Patel, 56, who is a 32-year resident of the Iselin section of the township, is seeking his first full term on the council. He is married with three children, ages from 15 to 24.

Patel received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from M.S. University in Baroda, India and a master’s degree in traffic and transportation engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

He is self-employed/entrepreneur working with site development and building of retail stores in New Jersey.

In the community, Patel serves as the executive vice president of the Indian Business Association and an organizer of the annual India Day Parade. He is also the event chairman for the Asian American Retailers Association.

Patel is active in the community, having worked on various fundraisers for food banks, earthquake victims and fire victims. He volunteers his time in more than 20 social, political, religious, educational and cultural associations.

“I was lucky to be appointed to a vacant council seat in August 2016 and I have enjoyed the experience,” he said. “Now, I want to continue serving the remaining years on my term. I have met with every township management official and have begun to serve the constituents of the Fourth Ward of Iselin and Menlo Park Terrace. I have been the people’s eyes and ears, bringing their issues to the township administration. I believe I have unique experience to bring to the Township Council having served in government as an engineer for many years. I know how to serve residents through an executive branch position which makes me qualified to serve a legislative capacity. I love the Township of Woodbridge and I want to see us continue to move forward with economic development.”

Patel said his specialty is engineering and infrastructure.

“We have made great strides in paving Woodbridge roads and rebuilding our sewers,” he said. “I would like to take a special interest in rebuilding infrastructures overall and concurrently save taxpayer dollars.”

In addition, Patel said he has noticed the great infrastructure improvements made to the township’s school districts with projects regarding fields, tracks, tennis courts, playgrounds and paving, which he would like to encourage.

“Also, I would like to see more jobs created and see our education system continue to grow,” he said. “Mayor McCormac has made great strides in improving Woodbridge life and I want to be a part of his team to accelerate our progress. Although I’ve been on the council for a short time, I have already and will continue to make this my main focus.”

Paul Danielczyk, 64, who is a 23-year resident of the township, is seeking his first term on the council. He is married with three daughters.

Danielczyk earned an associate’s degree from Mercer County Community College. He has been a realtor associate for J.J. Elek Realty Company for 26 years.

In the community, Danielczyk has been associated with the Woodbridge Buddy Ball program for 14 years, has been a band and choir parent for four years and produced and sang at a benefit show for the special needs children playground in Merrill Park.

Danielczyk said he is seeking a seat on the council to give the taxpayers an independent voice on the council with no connection to the political machine.

“[I will be a] councilman that the citizens will have easy access to, representing all of the residences in the Fourth Ward,” he said. “I’ll also communicate with the businesses, organizations, and houses of worship in the Fourth Ward.”

Danielczyk said as he goes door-to-door the major concern that he hears from the citizens is the ongoing over development and the effect that it will have on schools, traffic, and township services.

“With the pilot programs given out, developers seem to be benefiting much more than the taxpayers,” he said.

Ward 5: Democratic Incumbent Debbie Meehan will face Republican candidate Rocco Genova.

Debbie Meehan, who is a 25-year resident of the township, is seeking her second term on the Council. She is married with three children, ages 16 to 23.

Meehan is the publisher/owner of The Colonia Corner Newspaper.

In the community, Meehan serves as president of the Colonia Business Community, and member of the Heroin Task Force and Buy Local Committee. She helped implement the AED (Automated External Defibrillators) program, which has placed AED units throughout most township buildings and youth recreation facilities. She organized the first breast cancer walk in Colonia and organizes the area’s turkey trot for hunger and fall festival, holiday tree lighting and event. She organizes the Support the Troop rally every year, supports Veterans Affairs/Blue Star families, and organizes the township’s Have a Heart food drive/Taste of colonia to raise money and food for the food banks.

“When I took [the Council] position four years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew I wanted to help the community in which I have raised my family and which I truly love,” she said. “Being on the council has provided me with resources through which I can help the residents of the Fifth Ward quickly and efficiently. I have been able to address many of the issues, concerns and problems of the Colonia residents and have done my very best to come up with solutions to lessen the burden of what that problem was.”

Meehan said through the past four years, she has gained insight on how local government works and in her role she said she has met “amazing” people that she has been able to help, even if something as small as a pot hole.

“I found that though [the resident’s] problem may seem small in comparison to the larger problems in the world, if the problem affects their everyday life, then that problem was big to them and it was my job to help them,” she said. “I promised that when I was elected I would always stay true to the person I have always been and to continue to help the community in which I love and I believe I have, so for that reason I want to continue my work on the council and work with the best team around.”

Meehan said it is always important to bring new businesses into the community and keep up on the quality of a good life for the residents. She said the one thing she has become passionate about is the opioid and heroin epidemic that has rapidly invaded the community.

“I have lost track of the number of wakes I’ve attended for so many young lives taken too soon from this evil epidemic,” she said. “The kids that are fallen prey to this monster are our children, good children from good homes, athletes and musicians, honor students and rising stars and it has to stop, one life lost is too many.”

Meehan said Woodbridge Township has been aggressive on its war against the opioid and heroin crisis.

“[The township has] implemented many wonderful programs for not only addicts, but families of addicts who need to be educated and supported,” she said. “There is still a lot of work to do to get a hold of this growing problem and as a councilwoman this is one of the biggest issues I feel I need to continue to work on.”

Rocco Genova, 54, who is a 12-year resident of the township, is seeking his first term on the Council. He is married and has four children, ranging in age from 5 to 25.

Genova is currently in the insurance industry specializing in both commercial and personal insurance. He has a background in human resources, recruiting and telecommunications.

In the community, Genova has served as a committeeman for more than five years.

“I am running for the spot of the Fifth Ward councilman because I believe Woodbridge needs a change,” he said. “This town cannot continue on its current course.”

If elected, Genova said he would like to focus on reducing the current trend of over development, which will lead to an increase in population and overcrowding in the school system.

“I am confident that with the help of the other Republican candidates we can make a positive impact on Woodbridge Township and bring about change that will be good for all of our residents,” he said.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 7.

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