SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Three Democrat incumbents will be challenged by three Republican candidates in the November general election. Three four-year terms on the South Brunswick Township Council will be available. Primary day in New Jersey is July 7.
Joe Camarota (D) has been a resident of South Brunswick for 32 years. He is a family entertainment consultant.
He has served on the council since 2005 as a Democratic councilman and as deputy mayor. He has been involved with South Brunswick’s Recreation Advisory Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Aquatic Task Force, Economic Development Committee, Kingston Village Advisory Committee, Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse, Board of Health, Transportation Advisory Committee, Task Force Opposing NESE, Mapleton Preserve Commission, Social Services Committee, VFW Post 9111, Hugs for Brady Foundation, St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church and Princeton Manor Homeowners Association.
He has been involved in soccer and basketball leagues in North Brunswick, South Brunswick and East Brunswick.
Camarota considers some of his greatest accomplishments over the years to be increasing the number of recreational and passive parks, upgrading and improving existing parks and the renovation of the township’s Community Center;
Spearheading a project with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, after being told the project would not occur, to implement the Route 1 Shoulder Running Plan. This expanded Route 1 to three lanes each way during peak traffic hours by using the shoulders of the highway;
“I am very passionate when it comes to civic duty and responsibility. It is something that has consumed my entire adult life. Those choices have allowed me to use those experiences in my everyday decision making.
“It also provided me with the needed balance to approach each decision with the necessary temperament that permits one to view each issue from every possible perspective. That enables me to provide the critical analysis needed to render a well-informed decision,” Camarota said.
“Having a strong educational background, combined with over 35 years of civic participation, and close to 50 years as a small business person, has provided me with the necessary skill set that is demanded from today’s local government officials.
“Being able to work with the public and private sectors, understanding budgets, having the correct temperament and realizing that being a councilperson is an honor and privilege and that we are only there to serve and represent the individuals of our community, is why I am running in this year’s election,” he said.
Camarota said the health, safety and welfare of every resident in South Brunswick is of most paramount concern; while being fiscally responsible and keeping a stable municipal tax rate, to maintain a level of services, in particular, within the police, public works, health, EMS, fire and safety and transportation departments.
“The devastating effect this insidious virus (COVID-19) has had on our community, state and country still has to be determined. Our Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has done outstanding work in diminishing the impact on South Brunswick in terms of reported cases and the mortality rate.
“Despite those extraordinary efforts, this pandemic has and will continue to have an detrimental influence on every aspect of life in our town. We will need to create a task force, consisting of individuals, businesses, civic and religious groups, service and professional organizations in conjunction with our OEM, mayor and council to address this calamity,” he said.
Camarota also mentioned South Brunswick being the benchmark for affordability housing in New Jersey for the first two rounds.
“And for Round 3, with the inability of our state representatives to properly legislate this, thus losing their jurisdiction over this to our court system, we became the outliers. We will continue our efforts in working with the courts to establish a fair and reasonable number of needed units,” he said.
Archana (Ann) Grover (D) has lived in town for 40 years. She is a purchasing specialist for Middlesex County. She also is a Notary Public.
She volunteers at local temples and serves as a union leader in AFSCME Local 3440. She is the council liaison to the Commission on Women, Human Relations Committee and Environmental Board. She has served on the zoning board in the past.
“The time I have spent on these various boards has emboldened my commitment to the township and helped me see how I can help our town be successful and ensure all voices are heard,” she said.
Grover has been a county and township committee person since 1999, and has served on the Township Council since 2018.
“As a councilwoman these last two years, I have been actively participating to ensure all voices are heard and to ensure all perspectives are considered on council matters. I enjoy doing this type of work to give back to my community which in turn has given my family and I so much,” she said.
She said she wants to help keep South Brunswick a suburb.
“We as a team want to keep South Brunswick a suburban community by ensuring no overcrowding and not put more burden on the current infrastructure. Our goal is to maintain stable municipal taxes, which are the lowest among comparable communities,” she said.
She also wants to focus on proper spending.
“With my background as a purchasing specialist, I will ensure we keep an eye on our spending while ensuring to provide excellent services such as our police/fire men and women, garbage pickup, recycling, snow plowing and maintenance of roads,” she said.
Jo Hochman (D) has been a resident of South Brunswick for 43 years. She retired from Prevent Child Abuse NJ where she worked for 18 years as the coordinator of the EPIC Program (Every Person Influences Children). She was the coordinator/trainer in South Brunswick and across the state.
She said she has been involved in South Brunswick for more than 25 years. She was the chairperson of the Municipal Alliance; was a member of the Planning Board and served as its chairperson for seven years; and served the on the zoning board when the Target shopping center was approved.
She has served as a councilwoman for the past eight years. She was the liaison to the Shade Committee and the Human Relations Committee. She presently serves as liaison to the Arts Commission, Advisory Board of Health, NJ State Boards of Health and New Jersey League of Municipalities; and is on the Library Board of Trustees.
“I am very proud the library was able to obtain a new Bookmobile, and to be a part of the planning for the expansion of the library. The South Brunswick Library, led by Director Chris Carbone, is one of the busiest places used in South Brunswick with programs, meetings [and resources for] the needs of young people, teens and adults,” she said.
She said she is running for a third term as councilwoman “because there are still many projects to be done for our town. I still have a vision to continue with providing more services, activities, open space and keeping the taxes affordable.
“This has been a difficult time with the coronavirus impacting our lives. It is difficult going forward to know what we will confront, but I do know I will be ready to do whatever is necessary to meet our changing town,” she said.
Brian William Wojaczyk (R) has lived in South Brunswick for 17 years. He is a data manager and operations. He holds an MBA in finance, a PMP and various IT certifications.
He was a captain in medical services for the New Jersey Army National Guard from 2009-18. He is the founder and administrator of the Facebook group for South Brunswick with more than 6,000 active members. He has never held public office, but he was a candidate for the South Brunswick Township Council in 2016.
“I believe there should be diversity in all things, including elected leadership. I do not feel that having a council 100% dominated by a single party is wise and only serves to marginalize citizens. I understand the people may desire a specific party/faction to have most of the seats on the council, but I do not believe the township is served best by a monopoly.
“Frankly, I am a novice and a reluctant candidate. I was asked to run and choose to serve. Although I believe my experience, skills and education can benefit the people of South Brunswick as a member of the council, I am not actively striving to achieve this position of authority. If chosen, I will serve. If not, such is the will of the people of South Brunswick. I do have a continuing desire to contribute and better our local community.”
Wojaczyk said his key issue is focused on policing and security.
“I believe the South Brunswick police force has and continues to do a fantastic and professional job of providing us all with a safe and secure environment. However, national events over the last few weeks and even decades have shown that police forces in general have been tasked to deal with a great majority of issues in our society for which they may not be the best equipped to handle.
“We need to systemically evaluate the policies and methods regarding policies and training. An example of local programs I believe would be beneficial for all is revisiting a volunteer police auxiliary program staffed by citizens and administered by the South Brunswick Police Department,” he said.
He said he will also work on the tax policy.
“My political position is that the government should be as small as possible and only as large as necessary. I am not a proponent of high taxation, but I believe the majority of the tax burden should be as close to the people as possible – the local level – where it affects the people the most. The tax rate should continually be scrutinized and only be raised if necessary.”
He is also concerned with services.
“As with the above topic of taxes, I believe local services are paramount. Parks, waste removal, streets and security are all services that directly affect all residents. However, we should be vigilant as to how to use tax dollars. Waste should continually be minimized and services and programs that are underused or inefficiently operated should be curtailed or eliminated so other programs can benefit and taxes can be held down,” he said.
He will also give his attention to the township’s debt.
“As a fiscal conservative, I am always concerned with the amount of municipal debt we have been incurring. I believe this is a subject that does not get enough scrutiny,” he said.
Republican Julie Ferrara could not be reached by press time.
Primary Day is July 7 in New Jersey. Only select polling places will be open, as the majority of ballots were sent by mail.