EAST BRUNSWICK – With three Township Council seats available, six candidates will be competing in this year’s election to secure a four-year term.
Democrats Kevin McEvoy, Jim Wendell, and Dana Winston will be facing off against Republican opponents Antoinette Evola, David Herrera, and Neal Shah.
Election day will be held on Nov. 8.
Antoinette Evola (R) moved to East Brunswick in 2015 with her husband and children. She described her relocation to the township as an “easy decision” because of the community, school system, sports programs, and local parks.
Once her family was settled in, she joined the East Brunswick Parent Teacher Association and served as a “class mom.” She has also volunteered for book fairs, special events, and has spent the last five years coaching for the East Brunswick Softball League.
She says her dedication to giving back is driven by helping the less fortunate in her community.
“My family and I are dedicated to giving back to the community and we do so by donating food, clothing, and toys to our local charities. This year for my birthday, I organized a food drive for our local Aldersgate Food bank, which services all of Middlesex County.
“Food insecurity has become a major issue in our state, and I wanted to do my part to help those in need. My children and I met neighbors around town to collect their donations and on my birthday weekend, we delivered over 60 bags of clothing, and the majority of the clothes were brand new or in excellent condition. We donated tons of food and non-perishables that were put right on the tables to hand out that same day!” she said.
Evola works as a business owner and has previously worked in high-end retail spaces where she managed a million-dollar clientele book. She said that through those experiences, she developed a passion for serving and advocating for others.
“My passion for representing those who feel unheard goes all the way back to those years in that industry. Within a short time, I was approached by the union of this retailer to become a shop steward and had the honor of representing hundreds of fellow employees.
“When our contract was up for negotiation, I was brought in to renegotiate the employee contract and we walked away with a contract that was not only fair to both management and our sales/support staff but to the entire company. It was a very proud moment for me,” she said.
Her shift to politics began after she started watching New Jersey’s legislative meetings. After becoming aware of how different bills and legislation were affecting local businesses and families, she decided to get involved herself.
“As of today, I have personally knocked on almost 8,000 doors and have heard the voices of my neighbors. There are roads in our town that have not been paved in 30 years. There are areas that are already experiencing congestion and traffic, which will only get worse with the influx of new residents from the new developments.
“We need to make sure that every resident is considered when bringing in such projects that would drastically change the quality of life for those in that area. We have areas of our town that have speeding and safety issues involving oversized trucks and vehicles that were not meant to pass on those roads.
“Residents have been doing all they can to get things to improve, but their concerns go unheard. I know this because I am one of those residents living on a block that has constant speeding and cars coming down the wrong way,” she said.
If elected, she believes she can serve as an asset on East Brunswick’s Township Council and provide a voice to residents who feel “unheard” and “unaddressed.” Evola stated that her promise to residents is to actively listen to their concerns and address issues by considering how major decisions will affect the entire township.
“My promise to East Brunswick residents is to always listen and do what I can to address their issues. I want to make sure that our town moves forward in a way that represents the majority of those living here and not a select few.
“East Brunswick residents, when making your choice this election year I want you to ask yourself a very important question: Do you like the direction East Brunswick is going in right now and can you confidently say that it is preserving the quiet, peaceful, suburban life we all chose this town for?
“I am running because I feel our town is at a crossroads and while we want to grow and improve Route 18 and areas around this town, we want to make sure that we don’t lose the core essence of East Brunswick and the reasons we all live here.
“I’m very proud to be part of Team East Brunswick First and humbly ask for your vote for Column A, Herrera, Shah, Evola, and Kincaid, to have your voices heard in November and beyond!” she said.
David Herrera (R) has been a resident of East Brunswick for over 20 years and graduated from East Brunswick High School. He owns a small business and formerly operated two restaurants in East Brunswick. As a resident and businessman, he believes his skillset and connection to the community will benefit him as a township councilman.
His campaign website states, “He has worked with people of different backgrounds, viewpoints, and lifestyles. David cares about providing career building opportunities to those disenfranchised by previous incarceration or substance abuse. David believes that building skills in hospitality services and associated creative outlets provides a path to developing leadership skills and stability. … David knows that understanding people’s needs can often help one create solutions and he is a prime example of when you put your mind to something, anything is possible!”
According to his campaign website, Herrera overcame personal challenges that instilled character and resiliency. His own life lessons have shown that faith in others is necessary for effective public service.
His website states, “Having faced many struggles in early adulthood, his subsequent journey to self-improvement culminated in finding purpose through recovery and public service. As such, he feels a strong connectivity with many of the problems facing our society. He was raised by a hard-working single mother who helped him foster a sense of resilience, values of sacrifice, and strong determination. Faith in his fellow citizens is a key tenet of his philosophy.”
According to the mission statement on Herrera’s website, his goal is to create a functional and bipartisan council that’s transparent and beneficial for all residents, regardless of the issue at hand.
“My mission is simple: it is time for East Brunswick to have a new voice. For far too long our town and our council has been stagnant and one-sided. It’s time to have different views and innovative ideas brought to the table, to have a bipartisan review on all township items.
“The people of East Brunswick deserve transparency on all major topics that affect our town, to have an awareness on our towns plans and how they either benefit or impact our residents. My promise to you is to devote my time, my energy, and my hard work into making East Brunswick the best it can be. The people deserve better, this town deserves better,” Herrera said.
Herrera’s website mentions taxes, redevelopment, and quality of life as the primary concerns of his campaign.
Herrera could not be reached for direct comment.
Kevin T. McEvoy (D) has lived in East Brunswick since 1988. He is the Council vice president for the East Brunswick Township Council where he serves on the Cable, Water, and Sewer Advisory boards. Prior to his election in 2018, he served on the East Brunswick Board of Education from 2012-16. Shortly after, he was appointed to mayor of the township until January 2017.
He holds a New Jersey Social Studies Certificate for K-12 and is known as “The Voice of the Bears” for his sports commentary at East Brunswick Public High School (EBHS) and for his broadcasting at East Brunswick TV. In addition to teaching at EBHS, he also coached varsity track for boys and girls.
Amongst his lifelong accomplishments, McEvoy stated that his tenure as a councilman has been a career highlight. If re-elected, he plans to maintain public trust by continuing to make decisions that put residents first.
“Now as an incumbent on the Township Council, I consider among my greatest professional highlights the opportunity to make decisions that impact the daily quality of life of our residents.
“We have remarkable programming and services provided through our Recreation and Parks, Department of Aging, the library, Public Works, Water and Sewer Utility, and our police department; to name but a few of our infrastructure areas.
“By carefully analyzing the resolutions and ordinances on my bi-monthly agendas, I know I’ve done my due diligence for our residents in responsibly investigating how my decisions potentially affect their daily lives. That determines my votes, because in the end, I believe we can make a life together that is desirable, both present and future, here in East Brunswick,” McEvoy said.
McEvoy deemed this year’s election as critical and said his leadership and experience can benefit the diverse community of East Brunswick.
“In the ever-changing landscape, we need leaders like me who are experienced, trustworthy, and honest to move East Brunswick towards a new tomorrow. Filled with hope and a promise where our young people will thrive, our mature people will work and feel fulfilled, and our senior citizens can age comfortably and with grace.
“We are a community who is diverse. We are ready for a leader like me who will bring honor, integrity, and a willingness to listen and make decisions to assist in providing municipal services, programs and outcomes through responsible budgeting, a record of service and trustworthy leadership,” McEvoy said.
Jim Wendell (D) has lived in East Brunswick since 1970 and has raised his family in the township. He is the director of construction for a national real estate developer where he manages different teams and large-scale budgets.
He is a licensed realtor and building inspector in New Jersey. He also holds a general contractor license in Florida. For the past 25 years, he has been an executive board member for St. Bart’s Buffalos, where he served as president for 10 years. He was also the president of the Blackhawks Lacrosse Club for six years and an active coach for 12 years.
He is the council president for the East Brunswick Township Council and has been a member for the last 12 years. Additionally, he is a member of East Brunswick’s Elks Club, Lions Club, and Planning Board. He has volunteered with the Brookview Volunteer Fire Company and has served on East Brunswick’s Redevelopment Agency as a chairman for the past six years.
In his 12-year tenure, Wendell stated that he and his fellow council members were able to establish a track record of accomplishments. He referenced the township’s stable tax rate, successful redevelopment projects, and the opening of new parks as examples of the progress.
“I would say that keeping the municipal portion of the tax rate stable for the past several years, one of the greatest and most impactful, through COVID, and the recent inflation and oil price increases, we were able to work with all of our departments to keep municipal taxes stable.
“I am also very proud of being the leader of the Redevelopment Agency, and the fact that we turned a property on Edgeboro Road that was paying the town $30,000 in taxes, to now be generating over $800,000 annually with very little burden on municipal services.
“I am very proud that this past year we opened two new parks, and we are starting to work on our new ice rink next year. Another major accomplishment we have completed is the repaving of 25 miles of roads in the past few years,” he said.
Wendell said he’s seeking re-election to complete the township’s redevelopment projects, maintain the stable tax rate, and to provide high quality services to residents.
“I am running because I am a lifelong East Brunswick resident and want to complete the great work that we have started, continue to make certain our municipal tax rate stays stable, and to continue to increase revenues. I want to continue to work with Mayor Brad Cohen to achieve this and continue the shared vision our team has,” Wendell said.
Neal Shah (R) could not be reached by press time.
Dana Winston (D) could not be reached by press time.
Polls open from 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 8.