Republicans will try to break Democratic stronghold in Sayreville

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SAYREVILLE – Two three-year terms on the Borough Council and the four-year mayor’s term will be on the ballot in Sayreville on Election Day, Nov. 5.

Democrats will seek to maintain their 6-0 majority on the council and claim the mayor’s office, while Republicans will seek to retain the mayor’s office and gain representation on the governing body.

The council terms of Democrats Daniel Buchanan and Dave McGill will expire on Dec. 31. Buchanan, who has served on the council from 2005-07 and rejoined in 2011, did not file for re-election.

Republican Kennedy O’Brien, who has served as mayor since 2000, also did not file re-election. His term will end on Dec. 31.

Seeking the office of mayor on the Democratic ticket is Victoria Kilpatrick. McGill and Michele Cassidy Maher will be the Democratic candidates for council. The Democrats are profiled in a separate article.

Republican Arthur Rittenhouse is running for the position of mayor. Seeking council seats on the GOP ticket are Christian Hibinski and Donna Roberts.

Rittenhouse is a licensed life, accident and health insurance agent selling Aflac part-time and has previously worked in several other fields. After graduating from William Paterson University, he taught at the school for 12 years before going into the business world. His last full-time occupation was as a property manager before retiring.

As a public official, Rittenhouse was a member of the Sayreville School District Board of Education from 1997 to 2006 and the Borough Council from 2014-16. He is currently president of the Sayreville Historical Society and serves as a commissioner on the Sayreville Housing Authority and Sayreville Shade Tree Commission.

“I am seeking election to the mayor’s office to continue the work Mayor Kennedy O’Brien has done for Sayreville,” Rittenhouse said. “At the local level, we need to have balance and a voice for all residents. Currently, the council is all Democratic and this does not allow for discussion of the issues. I, along with my running mates Donna Roberts and Christian Hibinski, would provide voices and transparency for all the residents of Sayreville. My experience in town will help me in moving Sayreville forward. I served 10 years on the Sayreville Board of Education and three years on the Borough Council. I would be available during the day to meet with residents.”

Hibinski has worked in the offices of lawmakers who represent Sayreville’s legislative districts: state legislators Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Senator Joseph Vitale and Congressman Frank Pallone. In the field of law, he has worked for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office in the the Special Victims Unit and Trial Unit and for two civil litigation law firms in New York. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Catholic University of America, a Juris Doctor from Pace University, and a specialization in negotiation from Harvard University.

Making his third bid for Borough Council, Hibinski previously ran in 2015 and 2016. He also served as an elected county committeeman from Sayreville for three terms.

“I am seeking election this cycle mainly to continue the work I started a few years prior in my other election bids,” Hibinski said. “In 2015-16, I saw a system in place that was not as beneficial to the Borough of Sayreville as it could be. That still holds true today as I watched it diminish even further as of late. I am running not only to bring balance and a voice back to an already monopolized Borough Council, but on the pillars of transparency and common sense.

“I truly believe honest discourse among differing minds, the ability for the public to access elected officials and for elected officials to communicate effectively amongst each other, and rational common sense policies are needed to have a successful and beneficial government,” he said. “Ultimately then, I am running again for a council seat to continue to bring the messages of balance, transparency and rationale to the Borough of Sayreville.”

Roberts is an assistant vice president at MUFG Union Bank, working in the unit that is the lead in the Disaster Recovery Team in Infrastructure, Technology and Operations. She is making her first bid for Borough Council.

“I grew up in Sayreville and have a vested interest in our success,” Roberts said. “Some of the things going on concern me. I believe supporting our existing population should be a priority. There seems to be little concern with the needs of existing residents and more concern about ‘potential’ residents, specifically potential affordable housing units being introduced. I question how we will support the infrastructure with more people accessing these systems and services. We have challenges with potholes, traffic, parking, properly marked streets and there is a real quality of life challenge for many already.

“Although I have seen that additional tax base has been added, many residents have had their property tax increase,” she said. “And a final concern, there is currently no balance of opinion on the council.  A council run exclusively by one party can be vulnerable to a level of group-think without a dissenting opinion.  I believe we need balance to address the needs and concerns of all of Sayreville.”