MANALAPAN – At least one newcomer to municipal government will win a three-year term on the Township Committee in the Nov. 5 election in Manalapan.
At present, all five seats on the governing body are held by Republicans. Manalapan’s elected officials are Susan Cohen, Jack McNaboe, Mary Ann Musich, Kevin Uniglicht and Barry Jacobson.
The terms held by Musich and Uniglicht will end on Dec. 31. Uniglicht is not seeking re-election. Musich is seeking re-election and is running with Eric Nelson. They will square off on Election Day against Democrats Amelia Rendeiro and Kathleen Williams.
Regardless of the outcome on Election Day, Republicans will maintain a majority on the Township Committee during 2020.
The controlling party generally has the ability to appoint individuals and/or companies they favor to the positions of municipal attorney, municipal planner and municipal engineer.
Under Manalapan’s form of government, the mayor is not directly elected by voters. Each January, the five members of the committee select one member of the governing body to serve as mayor for the year.
Musich has lived in Manalapan for 35 years. She is retired from her position as the administrator for the East Brunswick Sewerage Authority.
“During my tenure on the Township Committee, the committee has maintained a stable budget while providing the services our residents expect and desire. The township has many shared services, hired more police officers, has an ongoing street paving schedule and recently purchased a street sweeping machine.
“Besides the many ballfields and trails, the Manalapan Recreation Center has grown to include a splash pad and pickleball courts.
“Manalapan, as most other towns in New Jersey, has an affordable housing obligation that challenges the Township Committee, staff and professionals to negotiate for the most
benefit to the township while ensuring that Manalapan remains a great place to live.
“While we must accomplish the state mandated affordable housing number, it is clear that we must balance this necessity without causing hardship to our residents and infrastructure,” she said.
“For the past five years, Manalapan Manor (a residential healthcare facility on Route 33) has presented serious issues for our community. The Township Committee, police department and local residents are constantly dealing with issues of safety and security from this state-approved facility.
“It is clear this facility either needs to be rehabbed or closed and the residents relocated to a safer, cleaner environment. The Township Committee is actively pursuing a resolution to this situation.
“Personally, much of my focus for the past few years has been to build some affordable housing that is geared toward our special needs community.
“It is important that housing is made available that provides employment opportunities within a reasonable distance and meets the state guidelines for these residents. It has been my distinct pleasure and privilege to serve the residents and I hope to continue to work for Manalapan,” Musich said.
Nelson is president of the Gordons Corner Fire Company and has been a member of the fire company for 15 years. He is a retired Woodbridge police sergeant, where he spent the majority of his career involved in traffic safety.
Nelson is the general manager of a traffic control service company and is responsible for the daily activities of nearly 300 employees. He and his wife, Jennifer, have lived in Manalapan for more than 18 years. They have four children ranging in age from 8 to 19.
Nelson serves on the Manalapan Zoning Board of Adjustment and has been appointed to the Monmouth County Transportation Council for more than 10 years. He has also served on the Manalapan Transportation Council.
Nelson developed and teaches a course about traffic safety at the Center for Government Services at Rutgers University.
“If elected to the Township Committee, I will use my experience to enhance the quality of life for residents by improving township facilitates and services, all while keeping taxes as stable as possible. I feel my experience in traffic safety, fiscal responsibility and team building are second to none,” he said.
Rendeiro, who moved to Manalapan from Kearny four years ago, is making her second bid for election to Manalapan’s governing body, having previously sought office in 2017.
Although she did not win a seat on the Township Committee two years ago, Rendeiro became involved in the community by seeking appointments and being named to the Manalapan Arts Council and the Manalapan Utilities Commission.
“I have found my time on those committees to be quite enjoyable. I like the people I work with. They are invested in the town,” said Rendeiro, who is an office manager.
Of her run for public office in 2017, she said, “I spoke with people in town and got a feeling for the pulse of the community. I really do enjoy working with Susan (Cohen) and Jack (McNaboe).”
Rendeiro has been active with the Girl Scouts for 40 years and said she enjoys working with youth. While acknowledging that serving as a committeewoman would mean dealing with many different issues, she expressed a particular interest in recreation.
“I served on the Recreation Commission in Kearny and when I told the mayor I was moving, he told me to do for my new town what I did for the people there,” she said. “I have eight grandchildren and I have my finger on that pulse (recreation).”
Rendeiro also serves as a condominium representative in the Covered Bridge adult community. She described herself as a “multi-faceted person” and said, “My father was someone who helped people in the community. I get that from him. I want to bring a different look, ideas and vision to the Township Committee.”
Williams, who has lived in Manalapan for 16 years, said her “commitment to protecting the future of our town and making Manalapan affordable for all of our families is the driving force behind my candidacy.”
“I am a wife of over 30 years and a mother of three children who were raised in Manalapan and went through our schools. I have lived in Monmouth County since 1987.
“If elected, I will work with the other Township Committee members to stabilize municipal taxes through fiscally responsible budgets and to make sure our children have safe recreation facilities,” she said. “In addition, I support increased government transparency, preserving open space, responsible development and representing all of Manalapan’s diverse residents.
Williams said she was “raised with a steadfast belief in civic duty, community engagement and the power of educational opportunities. This led me to become an educator and eventually to found Friends in Need Children’s Center (FINCC).
“FINCC’s mission is to nurture the academic and social development of New Jersey’s minority children. Prior to founding FINCC, I served as vice principal, then principal, of a K-6 elementary school in New Jersey.
“I also served as school facilitator with the Orange Public Schools Board of Education and taught for many years. I have a Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University and hold two master’s degrees in education.
“I do not seek office because I have all of the answers, but so that all of our town’s diverse residents can have someone in government who represents their interests, hears their concerns and speaks out on their issues,” Williams said.