SOUTH RIVER – Republican Mayor John Krenzel will face a challenge from Democratic candidate Tele Koukourdelis for the four-year mayor’s seat in South River on Election Day, Nov. 5.
Koukourdelis, 45, grew up in the borough and is currently raising his two daughters in South River.
“Spending and accountability are at the forefront of my campaign. Over the last eight to 12 years we have seen taxes go up, electric rates go up, water rates go up, every construction fee goes up. What have we seen as a result of that? An infrastructure that is crumbling,” Koukourdelis said. “A water system that has deteriorated to providing brown water to residents and hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs due to lack of maintenance. Beautiful parks that do not have the basic upkeep to ensure kids have safe playground equipment to enjoy. Who has been overseeing this? The buck stops with the mayor. You cannot turn your back for eight years and think no one will notice.”
A member of the St. George Greek Orthodox Chruch in Piscataway, Koukourdelis is also a member of multiple chambers of commerce.
Koukoudelis is the owner of TK1 Solutions, a small business that provides Information Technology (IT) and network services to small/medium-sized businesses, municipalities and law enforcement agencies.
“First, as I stated before, spending under this mayor has spiraled out of control. They keep raising taxes and pulling money from the electric fund to cover it. It has to stop. We will be looking at all areas with a fine-toothed comb,” Koukoudelis said. “Second, it is time for the mayor to do his job. He keeps hiring consultants and putting the blame on professionals. Ultimately, he is the one elected by the residents of this town and needs to work towards the best interests of those residents.”
Koukoudelis said, “I have grown up in this town and am now raising two little girls here. I have them in my mind as I look to make South River a place we can continue to be proud of and a great place to raise a family. I plan on providing the leadership necessary to make sure we all are working toward the same goal.”
A lifelong resident as well, Krenzel, 61, is currently in his second term as mayor.
Seeking to retain his seat on the governing body, Krenzel said he has chosen to run for mayor again because “there are certain matters that I want to be completed.”
Krenzel said the Republican administration this year has been one of discovering problems, trying to resolve them, and moving to take care of issues that were not addressed over the past two years.
“The biggest and most expensive issue has been the water utility. For years, the water utility’s problems have been ignored. Two years ago, the governing body was told that well No. 2 badly needed to be repaired,” Krenzel said. “Instead of fixing the problem or planning to address the problem, a Band-Aid was placed on the problem and nothing else was done. This year, the ceiling collapsed and we have been addressing the many problems that are the water utility. The people will have clean water to drink and it has been like this throughout the year.”
Krenzel is an attorney with an office in Sayreville.
While serving as mayor, Krenzel said, “My two biggest accomplishments have been bringing the town back after Superstorm Sandy and fighting to keep the town fiscally sound.”
Besides being a Planning Board member, Krenzel is a South River Library Board of Trustees board member. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, a minister and lector at St. Mary of Ostrabrama Church, and a member of the Lions Club.
“After three quarters of the year has gone by, we have finally turned the corner and are going beyond fixing problems to doing things that improve the town,” Krenzel said. “For example, beautifying the downtown, buying playground equipment, purchasing vehicles that will replace an aged fleet so that the people can be protected and have their garbage picked up. We are going to spend wisely the people’s money: no more $16,000 water fountains or expensive studies on $400,000 dog parks.”
Krenzel said he needs Borough Council candidates Donna Balazs and Tony Ciulla elected with him.
“I know it is not popular to talk about Republican and Democrat politicians with broad strokes but sometimes there is no other way to say something: Republicans do the heavy lifting,” Krenzel said. “When we took office, six union contracts needed to be negotiated, bills were not paid, required reports were not filed, illegal actions had to be reviewed and made legal. Notice the trend? Anything difficult or controversial was not handled in the past two years.”
With a Republican majority, Krenzel said he hopes to continue to do the hard work of governing.
“It is easy to moan and groan on Facebook but to address an issue, decide on a policy and face the consequences is not easy but my team has done it in the past and will continue to face the issues and we will do it the right way,” Krenzel said. “My opponent says that he would clean up the water problem. He had two years to work on that issue. Now it is being worked on by the Republicans and it will be done right. We have plans to lower electric rates and provide services more efficiently. I hope that the voters of South River give me the team to work with on Nov. 5.”
Contact Vashti Harris at email@example.com.