To the Editor:
My name is Kristin McLaughlin and I am running for reelection to the Hopewell Township Committee.
More than 11 years ago, my family moved to Hopewell Township. My husband grew up here and we came back because we knew that our three daughters would thrive here. We love the small town feel of Hopewell Valley, but the challenges facing the township are no small matter. It takes work, thought, diligence and patience to create a clear eyed and smart government for our residents. It has been an honor to serve this community for the past three years and I’m committed to continuing to listen to our residents and fight on their benefit.
As I reflect on my years on the township committee, I realize that my reasons for wanting to serve have not changed. Three years ago, I ran to preserve the unique core values of Hopewell Township. I ran to protect our magnificent open spaces. I ran to help build a stronger and more unified community. I ran because I wanted a say in how tax dollars were spent and wanted to make sure that those in charge were not spending indiscriminately.
I now have a much deeper understanding of the unique character of our hometown and none of those reasons have changed in the least. I’ve met representatives from many other municipalities and they are amazed when I tell them about Hopewell Township. I have seen first hand the strength of our environmental partners. I’ve enjoyed working with the leadership at FoHVOS, The Watershed, D&R Greenway, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Sourland Conservancy.
Hopewell Township now boasts 3731.72 acres of preserved land. We have expanded our trail network (some which help our kids walk safely to school) and worked to increase awareness of the incredible natural spaces our residents can use.
In the past three years, the committee has focused on reducing our debt so that we can put our dollars toward the services our residents deserve. Our commitment to fiscal responsibility has emerged in everything we do. We have questioned every budget line and zero-based our budget. Over three years, we cut a total of $2 million of unnecessary spending. I was proud as your mayor to present a 2019 budget that kept spending below what the township spent in 2015, while still expanding services to residents. This was not an easy task, but by finding creative ways to do more with less, I was able to keep our standard of service high, at a lower cost to everyone.
We are also much closer to the long-talked-about Senior + Community Center. I spent several months last year talking to seniors as well as other community groups about their needs and desires for a new center which offered more space. The township sent out a survey to residents asking what their vision for a center, including types of programming and recreational offerings. By working with partner organizations, we plan to bring a space which can function as the heart of the township- a gathering place for people of all ages.
Our seniors will have the additional space they need, and there will be expanded recreational options options for everyone including an indoor lap pool and therapy pool. We have land reserved for a new center and are also actively looking at additional sites to make sure we have the information we need to make an informed decision.
I’ve made it my mission to stop the PennEast pipeline. Here again, I have worked with numerous groups opposed to this project – The Watershed, HTCAPP and ReThinkEnergy NJ, and I’ve spoken at numerous rallies, press conferences, at a hearing in the statehouse with senators and assembly members present, and travelled twice to Washington DC to speak directly to the FERC Commissioners about the disastrous effect this pipeline would have on our township. We do not want and do not need this pipeline.
There is always more work to be done. We have a tremendous group of active volunteers. I promise to continue to work with them and to fight the important battles that lie ahead. I will partner with the non-profits in our community and other municipalities to do more for less. We must find ways to protect the township we love, efficiently and effectively use the resources we have, and thoughtfully plan for the future. I ask for your vote on Nov. 5.