SOUTH RIVER–Four candidates will face off to secure two three-year terms on the South River Borough Council on Election Day in November. Primary Election Day is July 7.
Former council members and Democrats Shawn Haussermann and Julie Meira will face incumbent Republican James Gurchensky, along with newcomer and Republican David Rein.
Gurchensky, 71, is a lifelong South River resident and before retiring, was a field maintenance technician for the U.S. Postal Service for more than 30 years.
“Well besides being [an] incumbent really … it’s more of a duty and it’s my appreciation to see that I can do whatever I could possibly do. I feel responsible to the residents in town,” Gurchensky said. “I feel like it’s my duty. I enjoy living here.”
Gurchensky is a lifetime member of the VFW and the Disabled American Veterans, a member of the St. Mary of Ostrabrama Church, and a marshal for the church’s Holy Name Society.
He is also the council liaison to the borough’s Utility Department and Department of Public Works.
“Basically, [I am running for re-election] to uphold the standard of living for the people in town and everything like that. To keep it as economical and as reasonable as we possibly can,” Gurchensky said. “It is an older town, it does need quite a bit of TLC, so to speak, because a lot of the systems have deteriorated and unfortunately we cannot do everything at once because it’s cost-prohibitive. My intention is to give the best possible service to everyone as much as I possibly can.”
Haussermann, 62, has been a South River resident all of his life.
“I am running again for council as I have seen that these last two years under Republican control have brought nothing but increases in tax bills, water bills and building fees, and reductions and elimination of services to our residents,” Haussermann said.
Haussermann said he worked in the satellite television industry in various roles for more than 20 years. Most recently he worked as a field manager for Dish Network for the last seven years.
He is running for the three-year council term with former Councilwoman Julie Meira.
“If successful, this would be my fifth term on the council, having served two terms in the late ’90s and two terms ending in 2018. During those years I served the residents of South River as liaison to the Board of Health, the Office on Aging and various other committees,” he said. “I also served as council president and acting mayor, along with acting as chairman of the Finance and Budget committees.
“If I am given the opportunity to once again serve with Meira,” Hausserman said, “I hope to continue the progress we were making before the Republicans took over. Our roads need to be paved, our parks need improvements and our taxes and especially our electric bills need to be reduced. Meira and I can get these things done.”
Meira, 30, is a lifelong South River resident and a first-generation American.
“I am very fortunate to be able to own a home and raise my children in the same loving community I was brought up in,” she said.
Meira served on the council from 2017-19. Prior to serving on the council, she served on the library board, community garden, green team and other committees within the borough.
“I work at a local business in town, so I am committed and continue to support our local businesses. I hope to help find solutions for our small businesses going forward in this new lifestyle we will all take on,” Meira said. “I also hope to fight for more online streaming services within the borough. It is now needed more than ever and is something that the borough has neglected.”
Rein, 60, was born and raised in South River and has lived in the borough for 54 of his 60 years.
“I decided to run because I have always been proud of being from South River and want to bring that feeling back to the current residents,” Rein said. “There has been a lot of negative opinions and sentiments about our town over the past few years from outsiders and some residents.”
Another reason that inspired him to run, Rein said, was because of his son Matthew who passed away in 2014.
“My son Matthew would probably be the one running for this council position if he were still with us. Matthew was born in 1995 and lived his entire life here and he loved his South River,” Rein said. “He loved the small-town feel and the diverse cultures that are a big part of South River and always have been. Even though he went to school out of town he still loved to say his hometown was South River.”
Rein said Matthew was in the beginning of his sophomore year at Albright College when he died in an off-campus house fire.
“My wife Janice Lynn Rein and I are involved in his former high school and club swim teams and we do a number of other things because we know he would want us to be involved in the things he liked,” Rein said. “We could definitely see him running for office, so I am running with him urging me on.”
Since his son’s passing, Rein said he and his wife set up a foundation in his name and fundraise during the year to donate to charities in his name.
Being his first time running for a political office, Rein has been a public accountant for more than 35 years.
“I would like to continue to keep the town moving forward but at the same time not put a bigger tax burden on property owners,” Rein said. “I would like to see the downtown area return to the bustling business district it used to be from years ago and be there for the small business owners in town when we get back to our ‘new normal’ way of life after the coronavirus situation we are dealing with now.
“We are at a crossroads in our world as individuals, business owners and public officials with all that we are dealing with at this time and I hope I can make a small difference in our small town of South River,” Rein said.
Contact Vashti Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.