Four candidates will vie for two seats open on the Hillsborough Township Committee

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Four candidates, including one incumbent, will vie for the two, three-year term seats open on the Hillsborough Township Committee in the general election Nov. 7.

Republican incumbent James “Jim” Ruh and candidate Catherine Payne face Democratic candidates Samantha Hand and Ronald Yoder.

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Committeeman Doug Tomson is not seeking re-election.

Republican candidates

James Ruh

Name: Jim Ruh

Age: 49

Family: Married to wife Cybil, daughter Isabella, and sons James and Greyson

Education: Bachelors, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison.

Occupation: Vice President Sales

Community involvement:  Served on our board of education in 2022.

Ruh replaced Deputy Mayor Janine Erikson in 2022.

Why are you running for an elected seat?

I have called Hillsborough home for close to 35 years, and Hillsborough is the only town my children have ever called home. I have a deep appreciation and sense of being here.  Having the opportunity to serve the people of Hillsborough, and maintain our status as one of the best places to live in America plays a major role in my desire to serve on the Township Committee. Being in this town for decades, I have the benefit of connecting with and engaging with many people. Upon being appointed to the Township Committee last year, many people reached out and were comforted that I would represent them … through me, they would have a voice in what’s happening in our town. 

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

Focusing on the health and well-being of our senior population is very important, as is respecting our top notch law enforcement department. There is an inherent need to support active lifestyles and independence for seniors. I will ensure these needs are at the forefront, and the senior voice is heard. Simultaneously, our police department is made up of some of the bravest men and women I know. It takes a special person to wake up each day to serve and protect. Ensuring the continued development and improvement of our police department will be a driving factor for me.

Catherine Payne

Catherine Payne

Age: 50

How many years have you lived in Hillsborough? 16 years

Married? Children? Grandchildren? Spouse, Al – police chief of Raritan Township;
children: Brenna, a sophomore at West Chester University, Emma and Dylan, both
juniors at Hillsborough High School.

School and degree: High Point University, bachelor’s degree in international business and
Spanish.

Profession: IT project manager balancing timelines, resources, budgets, and
advancing technologies, as well as training users on the final tool development.

Community involvement: I currently volunteer for the Hillsborough Board of Adjustments as well as Open Space committees. I began both in January 2023. I have volunteered for Woods Road PTA, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, GiGi’s Playhouse, and serving the Parish of St. Joseph.

Payne is seeking her first seat on the committee.

Why are you running for an elected seat?

My commitment to Hillsborough has guided for the actions and experiences of myself and my family throughout our 16 years here and I want to take those experiences and make a greater difference for Hillsborough families and residents. I have volunteered for Woods Road PTA, Cub scouts and Girl scouts, GiGi’s Playhouse, and serving the Parish
of St. Joseph. The best way I can continue helping the Hillsborough community is by committing my time and energy to the Township Committee to keep Hillsborough one of the ‘Best Places to Live in America.’

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

Overdevelopment is the key issue, driven by the state’s affordable housing mandates. Similar to the warehouses, I plan to address the affordable housing by emphasizing and enforcing our existing Master Plan and land use ordinances while updating the plan for the future. We must continue expanding our already extensive open space and preserved farmland. Lastly, we will continue lobbying our New Jersey Legislature representatives in Trenton to address the affordable housing mandate crisis by passing meaningful legislation reforms, as has been told by the New Jersey State Supreme Court.

Democratic candidates

Samantha Hand

Name: Samantha Hand

Age: 49

How many years have you lived in Hillsborough? 16

Married? Children? Grandchildren? Married to Matthew Hand, with children Hallie (18) and Lily (17).

School and degree: 2013 Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics – Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional, 2011 Seton Hall School of Law – Healthcare Compliance Certification Program, 1996 to 1997 University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City, Mo., candidate for master’s degree in psychology, 1994 to 1996 University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City, Mo., bachelor’s degree in psychology, minor in Spanish, 1992 to 1994, Drury College Springfield, Mo.

Profession: Senior Leader in the Pharmaceutical and HealthCare Industry.

Community involvement:

  • Hillsborough Township Volunteer Fire Company No. 3 Auxiliary.
  • HHS Lacrosse Booster Club.
  • HHS Field Hockey Booster Club (former).
  • Jr. Raiders Coach & Co-Director (former).
  • Hillsborough Soccer Club Scheduler (former).
  • Woods Road School Home Association (former).
  • Life Skills Ambassador (former).

Hand is seeking her first seat on the committee.

Why are you running for an elected seat?

My reason for seeking election is to tap into the strengths and capabilities of our residents, as together, we can help make Hillsborough stronger and more affordable for our children, our seniors and my fellow residents. The Republican Party has controlled Hillsborough for 20 years. Healthy debate is stifled and their lack of vision and planning has left Hillsborough’s future in doubt. As a Democrat, I am committed to bringing new ideas with sensible solutions to address the challenges we face as a community. I am running to ensure Hillsborough gets back on track!

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

We need to ensure Hillsborough’s growth is in a manner that maintains our quality of life while at the same time promoting sensible economic progress. This requires a comprehensive review of the Master Plan that drives how we move forward as a community. I would involve residents, business owners and property owners in this process. I would seek guidance from thought leaders at local universities on how new trends and regulations may affect communities in the future. This information will be used to generate an accurate roadmap to guide Hillsborough into a bright and dynamic future.

Ron Yoder

Name: Ron Yoder

Age: 70 

How many years have you lived in Hillsborough? 32      

Married? Children? Grandchildren? Wife: MaryJane, three kids – daughter 36, twin boys 28, grandson 15.

School and degree: University of New Mexico, history and economics

Profession: Insurance 

Community involvement: Lifetime member, past trustee and secretary Hillsborough Volunteer Fire Company No. 38, past ambassador and current member Somerset County Business Partnership, served two years as chairman of the Hillsborough Democratic Party. 

Yoder is seeking his first term on the committee.

Why are you running for an elected seat?

As I campaigned last year, I had the opportunity to meet many Hillsborough residents, listen to their concerns and share my ideas on how best to address them. I am running again this year because the same concerns and issues we faced as a community last year still exist. Another year of the same group running the town has only led to more expensive lawsuits, more controversy, and quite frankly, no sign that my opponents this year will develop any new ideas or a clear vision for Hillsborough’s future. We need to get Hillsborough back on track.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

Sensible Economic Development. A community needs to grow based upon a well thought out, comprehensive plan for the future. It cannot play catch-up as this will only lead to knee jerk reactions, not proactive steps to address, for example, warehouse development. Implementing our long-standing Town Center Plan would greatly enhance our local business community, providing Hillsborough residents a hometown center for shopping, entertainment, and a venue for public gatherings.  We need to capitalize on our great location and become a destination, not a place to simply bypass. Sensible economic development equates to sustainable growth, with a stronger community that benefits all our residents.

Polls open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Election Day.

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