Hightstown Borough voters will choose between Susan Bluth, who is serving on the Hightstown Borough Council, and political newcomer Michael Bollentin to lead the town as its mayor when they cast their ballots in the Nov. 8 general election.
Bluth, who hopes to make the leap from councilwoman to mayor, is running on the Democratic Party ticket. Bollentin is running as an Independent Party candidate. No Republican Party member filed to run for mayor.
The candidates are vying to replace Mayor Lawrence Quattrone, who is not running for re-election. He is a Democrat. The term is for four years.
Bluth has lived in Hightstown for 17 years. She is a certified paralegal who works primarily on family law and civil litigation matters.
Bollentin, who grew up in East Windsor Township, has lived in Hightstown Borough for 19 years. He is a retired police officer who currently works in security. He is also a part-time emergency medical technician in Monroe Township.
Bluth, who is currently serving as council president, said she works well with her colleagues on the council. She took over the duties of mayor for several months when Quattrone took time off for health reasons.
“I have the passion and experience to be mayor of Hightstown Borough, and I possess excellent communications and leadership skills,” she said.
Bluth said she is not afraid to speak up and to fight for what she believes is in the best interests of residents. She pointed to her good working relationships with the mayors of neighboring towns, the Mercer County Commission – formerly known as the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders – and state lawmakers.
“These relationships have had a considerable impact on Hightstown Borough. Because of these relationships and the immeasurable experience I have gained over the years serving residents, I am confident that I am best poised to lead Hightstown into the future,” Bluth said.
Bollentin said he is running for mayor because there is not enough transparency, accountability and responsiveness – something that “should be a given in all levels of government,” but which he believes is lacking in Hightstown Borough.
Asked about the issues facing Hightstown, Bollentin pointed to the lack of progress in redeveloping the former rug mill property. The property is bounded by Bank Street, North Academy Street and North Main Street. There are several abandoned buildings on the property.
Plans were approved in 2020 for a mixed-use development of residential and commercial uses, but there has not been any forward movement and it is sitting in “redevelopment purgatory,” Bollentin said.
“Similar things could be said about the Hightstown Borough Hall. We are coming up on 11 years the building has sat, slowly growing into a moldy, decaying shell,” he said.
The Hightstown Borough Hall was flooded during Hurricane Irene in 2011. Plans are under way to relocate the municipal building to its new home at 230 Mercer St. In the meantime, municipal offices have been relocated to 156 Bank St.
“Ideally, if elected, I would like to say in four years that the rug mill is in its final phases of redevelopment with new businesses and/or residents moving in. I would like to say that the (municipal) employees are happily working in their new offices,” Bollentin said.
Bollentin said he would be “elated” if it could be said that Hightstown Borough is doing well financially and that it has a healthy fiscal future.
Polls open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 8.