SOUTH RIVER – Four South River candidates are running for the two open seats on the Borough Council in November.
The races are uncontested in the June 8 primary.
Democratic candidates Margaret Kenny and David Pizzuto will face off against Republican candidates Jason Oliveria and incumbent Peter Guindi for each three-year term.
Guindi, 48, is a lifelong resident who first served on the council in 2009.
“I have decided to seek re-election so that I may continue to work on behalf of the residents of South River and also to continue to help foster an environment in which we work together to provide programs and services to better facilitate all residents’ needs,” Guindi said.
Currently, Guindi is the Safety, Fleet and Compliance manager with C3 Technologies LLC in North Brunswick.
He is also the owner of Perfection Imaging LLC, a small business located in South River.
“Two major issues that I have been working on and want to continue to tackle are encouraging business growth within the borough and continuing to improve the water infrastructure,” Guindi said.
Guindi is a member of the borough’s Planning Board, Department of Parks and Recreation and the South River Fire Department Engine Co. No. 1.
“Two of my greatest accomplishments have been bringing COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics to the residents of South River during the unfortunate pandemic as well as continuing to promote and help develop business growth in town,” Guindi said.
Kenny, 57, has been a borough resident for more than 20 years.
“I have been a committee person for the South River Democratic Organization for a long time, so I have always been helping out behind the scenes,” Kenny said. “I decided this would be a great time to run because South River residents need a team who is going to work for them.”
Kenny has worked for Children of America for the past 11 years as an administrator.
“I think one issue we need to tackle is when you drive into South River on Main Street, there is a sign that states the borough is business-friendly, but this is far from the truth. We need to make South River business-friendly for small businesses,” Kenny said. “I would love to see South River utilize our beautiful waterfront with pop-up businesses in the warmer months.
“We have so many beautiful parks in South River, but when the playgrounds are not maintained we drive away from the families. We need to rebuild our parks so that families can start getting out again and utilizing them for a fun family day,” she said.
Kenny is a member of the South River Democratic Organization and has also served as a Middlesex Democratic County committee person for her district.
She is a parishioner at St. Stephen the Protomartyr Roman Catholic Church, and past PTA president of South River Middle School and South River High School.
“I have served on the advisory board of the South River Recreation Department and volunteered as a baseball coach and a den leader and cubmaster for Pack 83,” Kenny said. “I have also served as a trustee for the South River and as an event planner for South River Relay for Life to help fight cancer.”
Oliveria, 34, has been a lifelong resident who, after completing his master’s program, resided in Savannah, Georgia, for a short time and then moved back to his roots in South River.
“I have decided to run for a seat on the Borough Council because I believe in giving back to the community that has provided so much for me and my family,” Oliveria said. “Over the course of the last five years, I have volunteered at numerous events around town, and I have spoken to frustrated residents over the lack of transparency that we as residents have encountered. If elected to council, I look forward to working with all council members to learn about the issues plaguing our borough and implement a plan to change.
“Zig Ziglar states, ‘If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.’ I look forward to learning more about the policies, procedures and the issues plaguing our town to become an agent of change for our borough residents,” Oliveria said.
Oliveria is the director of Educational Opportunity Programs at Seton Hall University.
If elected to the council, Oliveria said two issues he wants to tackle include seeking grant funding from the state and modernizing the borough’s systems.
“I would like for South River to look at the possibility of hiring a grant writer. In speaking with officials from other towns and boroughs, they have successfully petitioned the state and the federal government to obtain grants to improve their town/borough,” Oliveria said. “Depending on the grant received, we would be able to continue to improve our parks, build on our current infrastructure, and bring exciting new ideas to our borough.”
As a borough resident, Olivieria said he has struggled with the lack of innovation that he sees in town.
“If elected to council, I would like to modernize our borough systems which include, but are not limited, to the following: South River borough website, online payment systems, our permitting process, and the registration process for our recreation department,” Oliveria said. “The current system is not user-friendly and I believe that we have an obligation to help our residents and make their life as easy as possible.”
Oliveria has served on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board; is a parishioner of St. Mary of Ostrabama; is a member of the South River Portuguese Club, NASPA, NACADA, NEAAHP and EOFPANJ; and serves as division vice president for the Garden State Soccer League.
Pizzuto, 45, has been a borough resident since 2013 and is the associate director of athletics and sports information at the College of Staten Island in New York.
“I got more involved in the political scene during the last election cycle, activated for Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign in 2020,” Pizzuto said. “When he ended his campaign and started the Humanity Forward Political Action Committee, I became an original member and wanted to take a more dedicated approach towards the solution-based thinking that humanity forward stands for.”
Locally, Pizzuto said he takes a big interest in the operations of the borough and attends council meetings regularly to learn more.
“In doing so, I became connected with our local party leaders and decided it was a good time to run and to jump into local government so I can truly make a difference,” Pizzuto said.
Pizzuto is also an adjunct lecturer in the School of Business teaching Sports Management.
“Focused communication and vision are important to me, and will be as part of the council. I’d like to see improved communication efforts within our borough to provide better amenities and services to the people of South River,” Pizzuto said. “It begins by moving our technology into the 21st century with a revamped, interactive, website designed to meet the needs of our citizens and that brings our community together.”
Pizzuto said the borough needs better communication avenues within its own borough commissions and a cooperative relationship with the county and state agencies that can unlock funds needed to benefit the entire borough.
“My other major issue is a call to invigorate small businesses in our town. I think we can agree that small businesses are the lifeblood of our community. They capture the entrepreneurial spirit and put people to work,” Pizzuto said. “I think we need incentivized programs for small business start-ups, especially for women and women of color, to continue to foster entrepreneurial growth.”
Pizzuto said he belongs to several committees that include: the COVID-19 task force charged with re-opening the 204-acre campus at the College of Staten Island, and other campus-wide communications committees, especially during the pandemic.
He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a marketing manager for Collective for Uprooting Racism and Embracing Solidarity (CURES).
Oliveria could not be reached by press time.
Contact Vashti Harris at email@example.com.