SAYREVILLE – Two Republicans are seeking two available, three-year terms on the Sayreville Borough Council in a race that could determine party control of the governing body.
The terms currently held by Republican Donna Roberts and Democrat Michele Cassidy Maher will be on the ballot in the Nov. 8 election.
The Republicans seeking the terms are Roberts and Dan Balka. The Democrats seeking the terms are Maher and Damon Enriquez.
Enriquez and Maher are profiled in a separate article.
Balka has been a member of the Sayreville School District Board of Education (BOE) for 12 years.
“After completing my fourth term as a BOE member, I would like to continue to serve the Sayreville community on the Borough Council,” Balka said. “I was fortunate enough to have worked for the borough for 20 years prior to becoming the CFO [Chief Financial Officer] for the City of South Amboy and would appreciate the opportunity to serve the taxpayers of Sayreville as a councilmember.
“I believe my background and experience can guide the borough to fiscal accountability and smart growth,” he said.
Currently the CFO for South Amboy, Balka has been involved with municipalities for over 30 years and has also held the positions of auditor and chief accountant. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from Seton Hall University and holds licenses as a certified public accountant and a certified municipal finance officer.
“I am extremely familiar with the processes and procedures that need to be followed [with municipalities],” Balka said. “I also have a vast understanding of the inner workings of local government that would be a great asset to the community and the council.
“Serving on the Board of Education (BOE) has also increased my familiarity with the inner workings of the school district. I participated in a variety of committees including finance, personnel, buildings and grounds, contract negotiations and policy.”
If elected, Balka said he would address the issue of the financial soundness of the Sayreville Economic Redevelopment Agency (SERA) and other boards in the borough.
“Due to the recent allegations of bribery, one of the most crucial and difficult situations right now is the financial soundness of SERA, as well as the Planning and Zoning boards,” he said. “These allegations are casting a shadow over all aspects of the government in Sayreville, and I would hope that my integrity and ethics would help restore the trust in the council that many of the residents no longer have.”
Balka also said he intends to address the issues of property taxes, development and infrastructure.
“Other issues that are always important to the residents are property taxes [the economy], over development and the crumbling infrastructure in town,” he said. “Planning needs to be done with foresight. There has been too many developments including housing and warehouses without realizing the impact on traffic, roads, safety and quality of life for our residents.”
Roberts has been a member of the Borough Council since 2020. She is currently the vice chair of communications for Sayreville’s municipal Republican Party, which she joined as a committeewoman before being elected to the council, and previously served as its chair. Roberts is also a member of the Loyal Order of Moose and the Sayreville Lions Club.
“I am seeking re-election to build on the foundation I created in my first term,” Roberts said. “The first two years were ‘pandemic’ years. I know we’re all sick of hearing that, but this past year has been eye-opening for me.
“The first two years I was on the administration and finance committee and maintained fiscal restraint in an uncertain world. I have been a unique voice on our council standing up against special interest and supporting energy independence. I also believe it is not the business of government to be your personal doctor or make your medical decisions or decisions on what business is necessary or not.”
A professional speaker leading training sessions on personal development and technical topics, Roberts currently provides data analysis for talent acquisition at a national law firm as a private contractor.
“I owned and operated a bed and breakfast in Lambertville and opposed the ordinance which would disallow short-term rentals [under 30 days],” she said. “I believe the ordinance could have been written in a way that could allow for short-term rentals while addressing the real problem of amenities rentals [rental of pools for parties].”
If re-elected, Roberts said she would address the issue of overdevelopment in Sayreville.
“One of the main reasons I ran for office was because I was concerned about the overbuilding in Sayreville,” she said. “We need open space. There are some projects I believe make sense and there were those I had concerns with. I do not want to see the mistakes that were made in the past that caused this overdevelopment to repeat.
“Many people are throwing around the word ‘PILOT’ [payment in lieu of taxes] this year. This is something I am still learning about and have examples of good and poor PILOT programs. PILOTs are a tool we need to use or choose not to use, in order to best support Sayreville taxpayers.”
Other issues Roberts intends to address if re-elected are SERA and pre-council meetings.
“I am looking forward to my service on SERA to provide transparency in an environment where transparency is greatly needed,” Roberts said. “I will also continue my pre-council meetings, in which I describe how a council meeting runs, who is at the table, and we go through the current agendas.
“This is a non-partisan outreach opportunity that welcomes anyone who has questions or concerns to meet in a smaller, less intimidating environment to voice their concerns,” she said.
Republicans and Democrats hold a 3-3 split on the Borough Council. The mayor’s office is held by Democrat Victoria Kilpatrick. A sweep by either party would lead to control over the governing body.
Polls open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 8.