SAYREVILLE – As the term of the borough’s longest-serving elected official nears its end, one Democrat and one Republican are seeking to become the first new mayor of Sayreville in two decades.
The term of Republican Mayor Kennedy O’Brien will conclude at the end of the year. O’Brien, who has served as mayor since 2000 and has held the position longer than any other official in Sayreville, is not seeking re-election.
Running for the four-year term as mayor are Democrat Victoria Kilpatrick and Republican Arthur Rittenhouse.
Kilpatrick has been a member of the Borough Council since 2015 and served as council president in 2018. This year, she was named liaison to the Water and Sewer Department and the Environmental Commission after serving as the Public Works Department’s liaison for four years. She has also served as a commissioner and council representative on the Sayreville Economic Redevelopment Agency for the past five years, in addition to the Shade Tree Commission, Rent Leveling Agency and Green Team Commission.
“After serving on the council for the past five years, I have chosen to seek the position of mayor for several reasons,” Kilpatrick said. “First and foremost, I am truly grateful to this town and our community for providing me with the opportunity to achieve my goal of becoming a teacher so many years ago. As a graduate of Sayreville War Memorial High School, I was provided the foundation of education that helped me earn a Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education from Kean University and instilled in me the importance of lifelong learning. As a child, the town of Sayreville offered recreational programs that taught me the value of teamwork, friendship and community that I now attempt to pass on to my own two children and students.
“I am running for the office of mayor because I want the opportunity to give back to a town that has given me so much,” she continued. “I believe that Sayreville is at a crossroads and is in desperate need of new vision that will honor the strong and resilient history that Sayreville was founded on while moving the town forward, investing in our infrastructure, education system, police and first responders, public workers, recreation and our overall quality of life. I believe that I possess the qualities needed to be a mayor that will bring people together and formulate a plan that will truly bring success and progress to Sayreville.”
Professionally, Kilpatrick is an English and language arts teacher at Sayreville Middle School where she has been named the Governor’s Teacher of the Year. Over the past 10 years, she has served as the first vice president of Sayreville Education Association (SEA), holding the positions of negotiating team member and grievance/action team chairperson.
“My career as a teacher and my experience serving in the SEA have enabled me to develop the skills needed in order to serve as mayor of the Borough of Sayreville,” Kilpatrick said. “As an educator of English/language arts, I pride myself on my ability to communicate effectively, research, ask questions and listen to others. Naturally, as a teacher, I am a skilled problem solver who understands how important it is to look at new and creative ways to solving the issues that we face as a town.”
“The leadership positions that I have served in as an elected officer of the SEA have helped me further develop and understand the complexities of negotiations, employee contracts, state and municipal law as well as fiscal responsibilities relating to municipal and Board of Education budgets. I believe that the skills that I have amassed over the years as an educator, SEA leader as well as the time I have served on the council provide me with a unique skill set that will help me to be a strong and effective mayor for the Borough of Sayreville.”
If elected mayor, Kilpatrick said she intends to address the issues of security in the borough, investing in infrastructure and protecting open space.
“As mayor, I intend to compose an action plan that looks to secure, invest and protect specific points of interest in our town,” she said. “First, I would continue to advocate for additional security in our schools, public and recreational spaces, as well as our public buildings and offices. I am proud to have been a vocal leader in getting our police officers in every one of our public schools for the safety and security of our children, as well as securing grant monies to provide much needed security in our water treatment facility.
“In addition, I would look to invest in our aging infrastructure by budgeting more for road improvement and water upgrades through grants and shared service agreements or interlocal agreements,” Kilpatrick continued. “Finally, I would also focus on protecting and obtaining more open space and putting a stop to overdevelopment and bringing in projects that provide employment opportunities, but do not overburden or schools and roadways.”
Rittenhouse was a member of the Borough Council from 2014-16 and the Sayreville School District Board of Education from 1997 to 2006. He is the current president of the Sayreville Historical Society, the president of the Hendricks and Hendrickson Family Association, and the secretary treasurer of the Arts and Education Center, where he previously served as president.
Rittenhouse also serves as a commissioner on the Sayreville Housing Authority and the Sayreville Shade Tree Commission.
“We need to bring the town together and continue to move forward in and open and transparent way,” Rittenhouse said. “I would follow the policy of Mayor O’Brien that you serve all the residents of Sayreville and not just the special interests. We need to be open and transparent with residents and become fiscally responsible.
“I feel we need to think outside the box to bring in new revenue and ideas to the community,” he continued. “We must revive the downtown area and the areas devastated by [Superstorm] Sandy, MacArthur and Weber avenues. The Borough Council needs to have balance so there can be constructive discussion of issues related to Sayreville.”
In his professional career, Rittenhouse is a licensed life, accident and health insurance agent selling Aflac part-time and he previously worked in other fields.
After graduating from William Paterson University, he taught at the university for 12 years and was a department chair for seven years prior to entering the business world. While in business, Rittenhouse worked as a manager and coordinated budgets and operations. His last full-time occupation was as a property manager before retiring.
“These [occupations] have given me a perspective of how business and government must work together to benefit residents,” he said.
If elected mayor, Rittenhouse cited multiple items that have to be addressed, including traffic and how to handle it with new developments being proposed, such as Riverton, Fulton’s Landing Plan and the Main Street Bypass.
“These projects will affect the entire town with more cars and tractor-trailers coming through Sayreville,” Rittenhouse said. “We must also check areas for contamination before we purchase or allow development to proceed. We must also address the safety of residents by listening to our professionals, including the police, fire and EMTs. When they give input, we should follow their recommendations.
“Proper school funding must be addressed by allocating PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) money to the school district at the rate of a non-PILOT project,” he said. “I also feel we need to explore ideas to bring in revenue to the borough that would be new and creative.”
At present, Democrats hold all six seats on the Borough Council and Republicans hold the mayor’s office.