FAIR HAVEN – Four candidates are seeking two three-year terms on the Fair Haven Borough Council in the Nov. 5 election. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The candidates are Republicans Jacqueline Rice and Jonathan Peters, and Democrats Meghan Chrisner-Keefe and Michael McCue.
Rice and Peters are currently serving on the council.
Chrisner-Keefe and McCue are profiled in a separate article.
Asked to cite accomplishments from her current term, Rice said, “I have been on the governing body for one year … I am on the new Communications Committee. In less than one year we have rolled out a weekly email to residents listing all meetings and events for the upcoming week.
“We have also begun posting FAQ’s to our website about issues in town where we feel residents may have questions or concerns. We are in the process of developing a new website that will roll out by the end of the year.
“As head liaison to the Recreation Committee, we rolled out our first Mother-Son Dance. We coordinated with a resident who was raising funds for a toddler playground at Fair Haven Fields and helped her achieve her goal. In conjunction with the Environmental Commission, we acquired and installed two refillable drinking stations at Fair Haven Fields,” Rice said.
“Our community center received two new sets of bleachers and a walking path on the north side of the park. Most recently, we opened our new passive park at the end of DeNormandie Road which gives residents access to the Navesink River.
“As a second liaison to the (Department of Public Works), I am working with my counterpart to find new ways to educate the public about recycling and why we do or do not recycle certain items. This past year, an emergency brush pick-up plan was put into place to deal with unexpected brush from storms. This new plan helps clean our streets faster, thus making them safer.
“Another accomplishment I feel is worth mentioning is that I recently organized a coordinated response from the borough and the (Board of Education) to the ‘Path to Progress’ legislation being floated by the state. Since this legislation, if passed, would affect our taxes and our schools, I felt that it was imperative that we all come together to respond accordingly,” Rice said.
When asked what she would like to accomplish if elected, Rice said, “My goals for next year would be to finalize the plan for improving and renovating our borough facilities. The council has already set in motion plans to knock down and rebuild our DPW building at its current location.
“Our police department, community center and borough offices are the next focus. I would like to see a plan set into motion while remaining committed to residents in keeping it tax neutral or as close to tax neutral as possible. It is a huge undertaking and has been discussed in many forms over the past year. I want to see the project through.
“Second, it has recently become very clear that Fair Haven needs to look at improving pedestrian and bike safety guidelines and education. I want to examine implementing a summer ‘bike licensing’ camp for smaller children.
“I would like to form a committee with resident volunteers, members of our school board, the head of DPW and our police chief to look at ways in which we can educate children and parents about safety, in conjunction with looking at ways to keep our commercial traffic away from our bike routes during peak hours. Lastly, I would say my ultimate goal is to continue to serve the residents of Fair Haven in this position,” Rice said.
Asked to cite accomplishments from his current term, Peters, who has served on the Borough Council for 15 years, said, “I am very pleased to report we just received an AA+ bond rating from Standard and Poor’s. This is a strong outside affirmation of the solid town financial management I have led over the past decade-and-a-half.
“Over my tenure, I have continued to champion projects that enhance our walking and bicycling infrastructure and also provide a range of recreational facilities to address the needs of residents and visitors of all ages. These include our new riverfront park, new tennis courts, bicycle lanes and our Safe Routes to School grant for bicycle and walking routes.
“Given that Fair Haven only receives about 5% of our annual budget from state sources, the other 95% is funded from local property taxes and fees. Thus, we have to carefully consider what are the most critical spending items for our community and how to pay for them.
“I am always concerned about the ability of our senior citizens to remain in their homes and I strive to continually address affordability and tax issues in town,” Peters said,
Asked what his goals would be if re-elected, Peters said, “In terms of key goals, I look to preserve and expand our public spaces and improve our access to the great recreational resource of the Navesink River.
“We need to continue to develop further opportunities for active lifestyles for our residents that will promote a connection to our environment as well as help maintain their health status. I am currently working with borough staff on plans for improved waterfront access via a series of pocket parks, renovating our boat ramp and adding to our public walking trails.
“Much of what I do is not usually visible to residents on a day-to-day basis, as I am always working to avoid any catastrophic failures or unforeseen problems and plan for our future needs.
“Fair Haven is a wonderful town with a number of great amenities that make our quality of life very good. Recently, New Jersey Monthly ranked Fair Haven the 21st Best Town in New Jersey and third in Monmouth County.
“I believe this ranking reflects the overall value of finding a true small town with great schools that happens to be within eight or so minutes of the beach. This combination is very hard to find and we must remain vigilant in preserving our community spaces and our quality of life,” Peters said.