METUCHEN – The November ballot will see a longtime councilwoman and three newcomers vie for two, three-year terms on the Metuchen Borough Council.
Democratic incumbent Dorothy Rasmussen is seeking her fifth term. She is joined by Lisa Hyman on the Democratic ticket, who is seeking her first term.
Republican candidates Richard Thoren and Eric Lignell are seeking their first terms.
Councilwoman Linda Koskoski, a Democrat, is not seeking reelection.
Rasmussen, 67, moved to Metuchen in 1990. She has two adult sons.
She is a graduate of the College of Staten Island, CUNY, with a Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology. She is employed as a medical technologist at JFK Medical Center Clinical Laboratory.
Rasmussen has been involved in the community since 1994. Currently, she serves as a member of the Borough Improvement League, Friends of the Metuchen Library, and supports the First Presbyterian Food Pantry with food donations.
Among her Council duties includes the responsibilities as chair of the Peter Barnes Wildlife Preserve.
“I have spent the last 12 years serving the residents of Metuchen on the Borough Council,” she said. “It is important for the people of Metuchen to have the kind of dedicated leadership I have provided. I would like to continue the work of my commissions, namely, Environmental, Senior and Shade Tree. I will maintain my personal advocacy for my residents when they need someone to be their voice on any individual issue that they find difficult to resolve.”
Rasmussen said she would like to continue the work of the Metuchen Climate Plan, which will be a priority in her next term, if reelected.
“Pursuing grants for projects that are important for our residents’ quality of life, especially the environment, would be a priority,” she said. “Maintaining our Sustainable Jersey certification will also be an important matter because with certification, we achieve practical, tangible results in sustainability. I hope to partner with our residents in the actions we undertake to make Metuchen a great place to live.”
Hyman, 57, grew up in Metuchen. She moved back to Metuchen in 2003 to raise her family. Her two sons are in college and her daughter is a sophomore at Metuchen High School.
She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting and a dual minor in psychology and communications. She is employed as director of marketing and development for Elefante Music & School for the Performing Arts and a theater arts teacher.
Hyman said she has always been involved in the community and started volunteering as soon as she moved back into town.
“I was on the board of a Family Friends parent group, served as a board trustee for Temple Emanu El and was on the rabbi search committee,” she said. “I spent six plus years managing my son’s recreation soccer team, stepped up to run the dive meets for the MMP (Metuchen Municipal Pool) Swim and Dive team and served on the MMP board.
“I produced and directed the youth theater program for Temple Emanu El, and then created the partnership between the temple and St Luke’s Episcopal Church.
“From preschool through fifth grade, for all my kids, I was always class parent and when they aged out, I served as president of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) at Edgar Middle School for four years.
“I currently sit on the Arts Council and look forward to chairing a new mural installment among other projects to beautify and improve the quality of life in our town,” Hyman said.
She’s running for a seat on the Council because “I’m useful. I’m resourceful. I see problems as opportunities, and I’m a team builder.”
“I knew Metuchen ‘when’ and I want to be a responsible part of how it moves forward,” she said. “I promise integrity and a commitment to communication and will work to bring all Metuchen voices to the conversation.”
If elected, Hyman said she wants “to create opportunities for more residential involvement in town.”
“The best way to make Metuchen your home is being a hands-on part of its improvements and solutions,” she said. “Joining your neighbors in projects dear to your heart sparks relationships, makes you feel vested, builds community pride and it’s fun.”
Thoren, 68, has lived in Metuchen for 24 years. He has one daughter and one grandson.
He is a high school graduate with numerous experiences in trade schools and safety classes. He is a retired welder from the U.S. Postal Service Maintenance Department with 33 years of service.
Thoren is a U.S. Navy veteran having served in the Pacific Fleet from 1976-80.
In the community, Thoren currently serves as president of the board of the directors of the Danish Heritage and Cultural Center in Edison.
He is a member and treasurer of Thor Lodge No. 46, a member of Modersmaalet Lodge No. 164 in the Danish Brotherhood in America, treasurer for Danish Archives Northeast, and a member of Lykan Lodge No. 507 in the Royal Order of Vasa. He is also a member of Elk Lodge No. 1914.
Thoren is running for a seat on the Council “to become more active” in the borough.
“I believe that from my experience working in government organizations such as the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Postal Service, I am familiar with governmental bureaucracy and am willing to work with the mayor and other members on the council to make common sense decisions concerning the many challenging problems that we are facing in our small borough,” he said.
If elected, Thoren said he would “like to concentrate on fiscal responsibility.”
“As a citizen of Metuchen for 24 years, I have been subjected to the ever-increasing rising tax hikes that are reflected in my monthly mortgage statements,” he said. “The percentage of tax payments compared to interest and principal payments are just about equal.
“While the services rendered by the borough are of good standard for the time being, we have reached our limit with the overdevelopment of our borough and the somewhat questionable financial decisions made by the current administration. The borough’s budget should be checked.”
Lignell, 56, has lived in Metuchen for 24 years. He has three adult daughters who attended the Metuchen Public Schools.
He is a graduate of the University of the Ozarks in Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in history and public administration. He is employed as an account manager in facilities management.
In the community, Lignell is a member of the Knights of Columbus, which supports local homeless shelters and children with special needs. He helps create and run ongoing fundraising events. He also volunteered as a swim official/referee for the MMP from 2003-21.
“I believe I may have tied a record for chaperoning my daughters to 12 daddy-daughter date nights,” he added.
Lignell said he is running for Council because “this deliberative body crucially needs balance.”
“Currently, the mayor and all council members are Democrats, and all vote their Party’s way, regardless of whether it’s right for the borough,” he said. “The foundation of a healthy council is to consider varying viewpoints before making decisions that affect borough residents, businesses and infrastructure.
“My commonsense approach to local government, taxes, and transparency will allow me to advocate for my neighbors who currently do not have a voice on the Metuchen Council.”
If elected, one area Lignell said he would like to concentrate on “is providing a conservative voice to deliberations.”
“I will provide an inclusive viewpoint and bring 24 years of community involvement,” he said. “Democrat vanity projects certainly make our downtown look nice but have come at the cost of important infrastructure being ignored. It’s like buying fancy furniture for your house to ‘look good’ and ignoring foundation cracks and a leaky roof. This is what is happening in Metuchen.”
Lignell encourages transparency with borough projects moving forward including “the unchecked approvals of multi-million dollar contracts, taxes on an already overburdened system, the failing Jersey Avenue pump station and the MMP renovation.”
“Residents and businesses are being kept in the dark and our Council should consider all options with resident, business and first responder input before making decisions,” he said.
Polls open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.