Home E/M Sentinel E/M Sentinel News Democrats face Republican challengers for ward seats on Woodbridge Council in November...

Democrats face Republican challengers for ward seats on Woodbridge Council in November election

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NANCY BADER-DRUMM
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VIRU PATEL
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PAUL LUND
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JOHN VRTARIC
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JOHN MASCULIN
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HOWIE BAUER
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DEBBIE MEEHAN
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CORY SPILLAR
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NANCY BADER-DRUMM
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VIRU PATEL
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PAUL LUND
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JOHN VRTARIC
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JOHN MASCULIN
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HOWIE BAUER
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DEBBIE MEEHAN
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CORY SPILLAR
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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.

Ward 1

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.

Bader-Drumm is seeking a third term.
“I am a lifelong resident of Woodbridge Proper and I have a strong desire to continue to be the liaison with the residents and businesses in my role as councilwoman for a third term,” she said. “I have a strong business background as I owned a successful small business for 13 years. I worked from home while I raised our two children. It is an honor to help and assist those that are in need working with our administration with ideas and respective concerns. I have been a Ward 1 councilwoman for two terms now and I have learned so much about how the government works and I feel strongly that my experience has prepared me for another term as council representative.”
Bader-Drumm said working at the Chamber of Commerce gives her the opportunity to work with many of the businesses in the community and gives her a great pulse on the needs of the local businesses and business owners.
“I believe that my experience has prepared me for the next four years and another term on the council,” she said, adding she is open-minded and approachable.
Bader-Drum said during her tenure she has concentrated on a variety of areas in efforts to ensure “Woodbridge continues to thrive as a place where everyone is proud to call their home” and “improves everyone’s quality of life here in town.”
“Bringing the new businesses in [the township] to support the new developments in the downtown area will ensure success,” she said, noting the progress has already begun. “Our downtown Main Street is getting a cozy downtown feel bustling with businesses that have been here for many years along with our new businesses. Vehicular and pedestrian safety will always be a top priority especially due to the growth in the downtown area that is now realized. Safe roads and pedestrian crossings are paramount. Quality of life in our town shows due to the accomplishments that have come to fruition. We have new schools, we support our troops, celebrations of our township’s diversity via events throughout the year, festivals, summer concerts, sports programs, food drives and senior living centers.”
Bader-Drumm said the Sewaren area is getting a brand new dog park, an expanded marina and complex, as well as a renovated library.
“In addition, the rain gardens we have built, our paved road programs, flood mitigation efforts, garbage pickup and street cleaning, a new history museum and additional street lights have all added to our quality of life here,” she said. “These are all new and exciting reasons why working with our administration and council has motivated me to run for re-election. I will continue to work on moving things forward for many more great things to do for Woodbridge and maintain its long standing history and integrity.”
John Vrtaric, 75, has lived in Woodbridge for 57 years. He has three children and three grandchildren.
Vrtaric is a high school graduate. He is a cosmetologist and owner of Vatra Beauty Supplies and Mr. John Unisex Salon in Woodbridge.
In the community, Vrtaric has served as chairman of the Woodbridge Township Republican Organization for 12 years, and said he has attended most Township Council, Planning Board and Board of Education meetings.
Vrtaric is seeking his first term. He said he is running for a seat because he is “against” what the current administration has done for the last 15 years, including the approval of the “sex offender prison” in Avenel, generation plant in Keasbey and marijuana dispensary in Woodbridge Proper.
He said the approval of more than 2,000 apartment units in the township with a 30- to 35-year tax abatement allows developers to avoid paying for “school taxes and what they got for [the property].”
The units will “cause more traffic, more children in schools, more pollution, more property taxes,” which he said township officials “say won’t happen,” Vrtaric said.
If elected, Vrtaric said he will make sure all big developers are held responsible for all extra expenses, not the regular homeowner taxpayers.
“This occurs because of overdevelopment,” he said. “I will make sure that we don’t make the same mistake again, we don’t spend taxpayers’ money we don’t have only if it is absolutely necessary.”
Ward 2
Harold “Howie” R. Bauer Jr., 56, is a lifelong resident of Woodbridge. He is married with two adult children.
Bauer is a graduate of Woodbridge High School. He is a distribution, construction and maintenance foreman for South Jersey Industries/Elizabeth Gas Co.
In the community, Bauer currently serves as second assistant fire chief for Fords Fire Co. No. 1 with 19 years of volunteer service. He previously served as chief in 2011, 2017 and 2019 and has also served as past president for Fords Fire Company and sits on numerous committees within the organization. He serves as lead advisor for the Fords Fire Company Youth Explorer Program, a program monitored by the Boy Scouts of America that introduces the youth of Woodbridge Township ages 14-20 to today’s fire service, emphasizing community service and civic involvement through positive mentoring, training, education and career development.
Bauer also serves as president of United Exempts Firemen’s Association of Keasbey, Fords and Hopelawn, an organization that provides mentoring, support and services to those within the fire service and is a member of the Fords Business Community representing Fords Fire Company, an organization helping area businesses succeed and also giving back to the residents of the community with family fun events throughout the year.
He is seeking his second term.
“As a lifelong resident of Woodbridge Township, I have a vested interest here and want to  ensure this community prospers and grows,” he said. “I have been an active member of our community through our volunteer fire company and many other organizations. With a hands on type of work style and a positive attitude, I would like to continue serving the residents of Woodbridge Township. If re-elected, I will work hard to be responsive to their needs, listen to all their views and uphold the community’s best interest.”
Bauer said one area he would like to continue working with is the youth of the community.
“Through the hard work over the past four years of our administration and support of the town council, we were able to open three new youth centers within the township, all that  enrich the lives of our residents,” he said. “A special designed complex was built for our challenged and handicapped children providing recreational and vocational programs to our special needs population. Having a voice and listening to the residents of our township we were able to provide many other opportunities to the youth of our community through pop-up libraries, back-to-school backpack supplies, updated sports facilities, camps and many other youth services. By improving on the development of our children today, we prepare them for the future thus enabling them to become a responsible part of our community.”
Paul Lund, Jr., 58, is a lifelong resident of Woodbridge. He is married.
Lund earned a degree in environmental science from Rutgers University and in special education from Georgian Court University. He is a math and special education teacher.
In the community, Lund attends council meetings to voice concerns periodically.
Lund is seeking his first term.
“I’m running for council to send a message to the administration that not everybody sees Woodbridge moving in the right direction, to hold the administration fiscally and ethically accountable,” he said.
If elected, Lund said he would concentrate on “bringing transparency to Woodbridge residents as to the inner workings of local government.”
Ward 3
Cory S. Spillar, 47, is a lifelong resident of Woodbridge. He is married, with a daughter who graduated from Colonia High School (CHS) and is a student at Montclair State University, a daughter who is a student at CHS, and a son who is a student at Avenel Middle School.
Spillar earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Middlesex County College and a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Kean University. He is certified as a fire investigative technician, fire investigation technician and vehicle fire investigator. He has been a fire official with the Avenel Fire Prevention Bureau since 2003 and previously served as a correctional police officer with the Middlesex County Department of Corrections.

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.”

In addition, Masculin said it’s important “to eliminate a third power plant, overpopulation, building on contaminated properties and crime.” He also noted the Avenel Performing Art Center is $1.7 million in debt and the safety of the children in the school systems is also a priority with the recent news of contaminated foods and drinks.
If elected, Masculin said he will use his skill set and knowledge like he does in the environmental world and playing sports.
“I never quit, I push forward to be the best,” he said. “I will take my knowledge and like I do with team members in business and on the playing field, help as many people as I can. There is no perfect answer to anything. I am not promising any miracles. I will speak from the heart and be very passionate as a council member.”

Ward 4

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.”

Ward 5

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.

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