WOODBRIDGE – Incumbents and newcomers will vie for the five, four-year ward seats available on the Woodbridge Township Council in the upcoming election.
Democratic incumbent Nancy Bader-Drumm will face Republican candidate John Vrtaric in Ward 1.
Democratic incumbent Harold “Howie” R. Bauer Jr. will face Republican candidate Paul Lund Jr. in Ward 2.
Democratic incumbent Cory S. Spillar will face Republican candidate John Masculin in Ward 3.
Democratic incumbent Virbhadra “Viru” Patel does not face any challengers in Ward 4.
Democratic incumbent Debbie Meehan will face Republican candidate Rocco Genova in Ward 5.
The general election is on Nov. 2.
Nancy Bader-Drumm, 62, is a lifelong Woodbridge resident. She is married with two children and two grandchildren.
Bader-Drumm is a Woodbridge High School graduate and attended some college at Middlesex County College, Kean University and Rutgers University. She is employed as membership director of the Woodbridge Metro Chamber of Commerce.
In the community, Bader-Drumm has served as a member of the Planning Board Committee for five years, member of the Green Team Advisory Committee, member of the Buy Local program, member of the Downtown Merchants Association and member and advocate for the Main Street Special Improvement District. She is also a member of the Woodbridge Elks No. 2116, American Irish Association and Woodbridge/Perth Amboy Rotary and St. James School Advisory Council.
“I dedicate myself to work on special projects to improve the quality of life for everyone in my ward,” she said from the Woodbridge Animal Shelter, the new dog park and Sewaren Marina expansion/new complex to overseeing the Blue Acres program, the new Acacia Youth Center and senior housing and centers.
In the community, Spillar said he and his family are very involved.
“My children actively participate in Woodbridge Township Recreational programs and are very active with extracurricular programs in their schools,” he said. “We are also very active with St. Andrew’s Church of Avenel as my wife is a CCD teacher and my children are altar servers. Both my daughters have been involved with Woodbridge Township Girl Scout troops … [and] work at township retail businesses.”
Spillar is a life member – 28-plus years – with the Avenel Fire Company, serving all roles including chief in 2006 and as fire company president from 2007-13. He served as president for the Avenel Fire Company’s 100th Anniversary Celebration in 2013.
As fire official for Avenel Fire Prevention, it allows Spillar to visit the children in the schools on a weekly basis to discuss fire prevention, he said. He noted his program “is just not one week in October; we visit the schools on a yearly basis.
“The school children refer to me as ‘Fireman Cory,’ ” he said.
Spillar also serves as a third-degree member of the Avenel Knights of Columbus, serves on the board of governors and is an auxiliary life member of the Avenel VFW Post 7164.
He is the chairperson for Avenel Community Day and Avenel’s Very Merry Holiday Lighting and is a member of the Port Reading Day Committee.
Spillar was appointed to fill an unexpired term in 2015. He is seeking his third term.
“I am running for re-election so I can continue to provide the residents of Woodbridge Township all the great services and programs the township has to offer,” he said. “Should a resident encounter an issue or problem and needs my assistance, this is why I was put in office, and I take that responsibility very serious. There is no greater feeling to have an event such as the renaming of Eric LeGrand ‘Believe’ Park in Avenel and have Eric and his family thanking you for making it happen in front of several hundred of our neighbors or to be able to watch special needs children enjoying themselves at the new handicapped accessible Cypress Park in Port Reading.”
Spillar said he enjoys working on all aspects and issues that might arise within the township, noting a great mayor, administration and council.
“It’s very important for not only myself, but for all of my councilmates, to make sure the residents of the Township of Woodbridge have the best quality of life they can,” he said. “We try to offer so many broad services and programs for our residents so they enjoy fully their hometown. We have the best police department around as we want to ensure all of our residents and businesses always are comfortable and feel safe.”
John Masculin, 56, has lived in the Port Reading section of the township for 28-plus years.
Masculin earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a minor in business from Upsala College. He has a 28-year background in environmental consulting, environmental analytical testing of soil, water and air, business development and environmental waste disposal.
“My involvement in the community is to inform the people of Woodbridge Township, especially those who reside in the Avenel and Port Reading areas, what is going on around them,” he said.
Masculin is seeking his first term.
“We all live in a town because we like homes, trees, grass, raising our families in open areas where we can have a pool, family events, barbecues, parks, open spacious areas [and] peaceful quiet days,” he said. “I work throughout the five boroughs of New York and Philadelphia, I can’t get out of there fast enough to get home. There are many people in my neighborhood who move out of those areas in New York to Port Reading and Avenel, which are now unfairly being subjected to the lifestyle of city life again.”
The city lifestyle of “tons of traffic, pollution, garbage, overpopulation, culture shock, constant loud noise and dangerous areas will eventually lead to crime, street beggars, riots, looting like in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore and Minneapolis,” Masculin said.
“If anyone watches the videos on TV throughout 2020 this is what clearly will happen in Woodbridge,” he said. ” The residents are being forced to an unhealthy city lifestyle.”
Masculin said the safety of the Woodbridge residents is a priority.
“Building a strong foundation with the police department, firemen, first aiders and residents is a key component in building a strong community,” he said. “The officers are being forced to adjust from a family type community to city life crime waves. Firemen are going from houses to one gigantic building after another. The police and firemen are being put into a very unfair position. I want to develop a neighborhood watch program.”
Virbhadra “Viru” Patel, 60, has lived in Woodbridge for 36 years. He is married with three adult daughters, who all have been educated through the Woodbridge Public Schools.
Patel earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from M.S. University, Baroda, India, and a master’s degree in traffic and transportation engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is self-employed as an entrepreneur of site development and building of retail stores in New Jersey.
In the community, Patel serves as vice president of the Indian Business Association, is an organizer of the annual India Day Parade and serves as event chairman for the Asian American Retailers Association.
He said he volunteers for more than 20 social, political, religious, educational and cultural associations and has participated in various fundraisers for food banks, earthquake victims and fire victims.
Patel was appointed to a vacant council seat in August 2016. He is seeking a third term.
“I have met with every single township management official and have served the constituents of the fourth ward of Iselin and Menlo Park Terrace,” he said. “I have been their eyes and ears to bring their concerns and issues to the township administration and I have been out all over the ward knocking on the doors and meeting people. I believe I have unique experience to bring to the Township Council, having served in government as an engineer for many years. I know how to serve residents through an executive branch position, which makes me qualified to serve a legislative capacity. I love the township of Woodbridge and I want to see us continue to move forward with economic development.”
Patel said his specialty is engineering and infrastructure.
“We have made great strides in paving our roads and rebuilding our sewers and I would like to continue that progress and take a special interest in how we go about doing that to see if my experience can lead to savings in taxpayer dollars,” he said. “I have been on the council for six years and I intend to make this my main focus. I also have noticed the great infrastructure improvements made to our school district with fields, tracks, tennis courts, playgrounds and paving projects and I would like to see this continue. I would like to see more jobs created and see our education system continue to improve. I have witnessed the devastation of Hurricane Ida and would like to see how we can save the properties and lives in the future. Mayor [John] McCormac has made great strides and I want to continue to be a part of his team to keep the progress moving forward.”
Debbie Meehan, 55, has lived in Woodbridge for 29 years. She is married with three adult children.
She has been the owner/publisher of the Corner Newspapers for 20 years.
“As the fifth ward councilwoman, I am extremely involved in the Colonia community as it is where I live and have raised my family,” she said. “Because of my newspaper, I have gotten to know the people of the Colonia community very well. I have worked with veterans and the families whose loved ones have, and continue, to serve our country overseas and at home.
“I work closely with the Woodbridge Township PTOs to assist in providing enhanced educational opportunities and extracurricular activities for all of our school children. And I have devoted resources to work with and assist members of our senior community and to families who have a special need of community assistance. I truly love the Colonia community I call home and will always be here to help any resident that needs the help and services of the town council.”
Meehan is seeking a third term.
“As a 29-year Colonia resident and full-time community advocate, I will continue to work to bring additional municipal services, economic and business development and an even better quality of life for Colonia residents and students,” she said. “My passion is to help the people that live in the Colonia community, residents that are my family, my friends, my neighbors and all of the businesses that keep Colonia thriving. I have served as a voice of the community through the pages of the Corner Newspaper and am extremely proud to be the ‘official’ voice of Colonia. It is my desire and promise to watch over and protect the town that I truly care about.”
One of the most important things, Meehan said she can do as the councilwoman, is to “strengthen and beautify the community.”
“There is need for improvement in our downtown and to re-occupy our vacant stores with great community ‘Buy Local’ friendly businesses,” she said. “I will continue to advocate and work to improve the business climate and economic opportunity for the small businesses currently located in Colonia and for those businesses seeking to locate in our downtown business district on Inman Avenue. I also feel it is important to listen to the needs of the people in the community and to help to provide the absolute best quality of life for all of Colonia.”
Candidate Rocco Genova in Ward 5 did not respond before press time.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.