HAZLET – Four candidates are seeking two three-year terms on the Hazlet Township Committee in the Nov. 5 election.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The candidates are Republicans Scott Aagre and Michael Glackin, and Democrats Ryan O’Steen and Lucille LoSapio.
Aagre and Glackin currently serve on the governing body. Aagre did not respond to requests for comment.
Asked to cite accomplishments from his current term, Glackin said, “I am near the end of my first term and there are many things we have accomplished in the last three years that I am very proud of.
“The first is our continued goal of fiscal responsibility. The municipal budget has not increased since 2016. Despite inflation, contractual raises and double-digit health insurance rates increases, the municipal budget is at the same level it was when I was sworn in.
“I am also very proud of our road improvement program. Working with our engineers, the committee has identified all the roads in town in need of repair and have graded them according to condition.
“In the past, the committee was limited to repairing a few roads a year. Due to the current makeup of the Township Committee, we have enough votes to bond for a long-term road improvement program.
“Another accomplishment I am very proud of is expanding the role of the police department to enhance school security by placing two school resource officers in our schools to not only increase security, but to work with and teach the children about the dangers of drug use.
“The Township Committee was also able to help redevelop many of the abandoned commercial properties along our highways. Through rezoning and working with property owners, the committee has brought in new businesses that will not only improve the quality of the town, but also bring in over 300 new jobs to Hazlet,” he said.
Asked what his goals will be if re-elected, Glackin said, “If re-elected to the governing body, I would be able to help build on our many accomplishments and push for new successes.
“Our parks and recreation areas need improvements. We have already filed for a grant to improve the 8th Street Park and we have plans for several other areas, including Natco Park. Natco is one of the town’s greatest treasures and needs to be enhanced.
“There are several other recreational areas that need improvement to not only beautify the town, but to create better conditions so our children can enjoy them.
“The committee has already started a solar feasibility study and if the study is favorable, I will push to bring in solar energy to lower costs and improve the environment. I will help build on our redevelopment success by continuing to work with commercial property owners to help restore our highway corridors.
“Our long-term road program requires consistency on the committee. Change to the current makeup can halt this progress. I will make sure the roads continue to get fixed.
Garbage collection is an issue that has come up during the campaign. At present, every resident must contract their own garbage company to have their garbage collected.
The issue in the campaign is whether Hazlet officials should assume the responsibility for having a township-wide garbage collection contract and if residents should be polled through a referendum about that issue.
“I will have an analysis done on town-controlled garbage collection. Based on the results of this analysis, a referendum can be put forth. A service like this cannot be done with the town’s current financial resources. As such, this would need to be done through referendum so residents can decide. Because of the expected large voter turnout, 2020 would be the best time to put such a big issue before the voters,” Glackin said.
Asked why he is seeking a seat on the Township Committee, O’Steen said, “I decided to seek a seat on the governing body to help improve the town. I have two young children who are currently in the Hazlet school system and they were a big influence on me deciding to run for office.
“We plan on living here forever, so why not try to help improve the place we live?
I have never served in office before, but I did run for this position In 2018. It was a learning experience last year, and I learned so much about the town and got to meet many great people,” O’Steen said.
Asked what his goals would be if elected, O’Steen said, “I plan to work with everyone on the governing body to help improve the services in Hazlet. Our team would like to implement a plan for town-controlled garbage pickup.
“We also wish to stop the over-development of our town. Current residents need more services and resources. Over-development takes away from these resources. I live in this town just like everyone else, so I would like to receive more services for the amount of money we pay.
“We want to keep taxes stable and lower them if there is any way to do so. We also want residents to be able to use the Hazlet Youth Athletic League fields in a normal way during normal hours and not have to pay fines that will limit the resources for our children. We want to improve the town for the future generations who will live here with us and after us,” O’Steen said.
Asked why she is seeking a seat on the governing body, LoSapio said, “I’m unhappy with the way things have been going in Hazlet … (issues that may be) negotiated behind closed doors and hidden from voters.
“I believe we need a dissenting view in the committee, someone who can bring in new blood and isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers. As I talk to voters, they tell me they are sick and tired of all the over-development that goes on that they don’t hear about until it’s a done deal. I want to be a disrupter … a trouble maker if you will, who will hold the other committee members accountable.
“ … We need new voices, new ideas. So many people have complained to me about the multiple garbage collection companies we have and that we don’t get bulk pickups. Is it so hard to pick one company, negotiate a single-source rate and get the voters what they are clamoring for? Or haven’t the committee members bothered to ask what people want?” LoSapio said.
Asked what her goals would be as a member of the governing body, LoSapio said, “my goal will be to be a new voice, a fresh voice. Someone who can bring new ideas and be the dissenter when the committee tried to push through bad ones.
“I’ve negotiated major multimillion dollar deals with multinational corporations, so I know how to convince people to change their minds. And I have lived in Hazlet most of my adult life, previously living in Keyport. My grandfather was a farmer here for many decades, so I have seen things change, not always for the better.
“Why are we in the Assessment Demonstration Program when no other county in the state is? Why don’t we opt out? Is that why our taxes rose more than 75% of the municipalities in New Jersey last year?
“Not surprisingly, most voters are unhappy about their taxes, but what is the committee doing to address that? Building new homes doesn’t drop our taxes, it probably will increase them.
“What about all the empty commercial buildings on Route 35 and Route 36? I see a lot of people who have served on the committee for many years who seem to be very complacent. I want to shake things up.
“I’d like to see where we can cut costs in Hazlet. It seems that so many things are decided in this town behind closed doors. Doesn’t everybody want open government? Aren’t we entitled to that as voters? If I’m on the committee, that is something I will be pushing for.
“I admit, I don’t know as much about Hazlet government as many other people might, but I’m someone who is determined, smart and accomplished, and I know I can make things better,” LoSapio said.
Committeeman Michael Sachs and Barabara Ronchetti, a former committeewoman, are running for a one-year unexpired term. They will be profiled in a separate article.