Last weeks edition of the Independent had the first of it’s political profiles of candidates running in local area elections, starting of with Middletown.
There’s nothing new or informative listed within the profile’s of Tony Fiore or Stephanie Murray.
Fiore talks about how he cut $4 million from the Township budget and how he negotiated a 25% heath and benefits contribution from the Township’s police union, but fails to mention that the tax rate didn’t go down; it went up by 3%.
If you want to read about them you can go to the article at the Independents website but below are the Independent’s questions to the candidate’s and the responses from just the Middletown Democratic Candidates Jim Grenafage and Carol Fowler
Q. What do you believe is the main issue facing Middletown? What specific steps can and will you take to tackle this issue?
GRENAFEGE: The main issue facing Middletown is the lack of elected and appointed two-party representation. The lack of twoparty representation allows the majority to avoid accountability and in-depth substantial discussion of a basket of issues that Middletown faces. This allows a lot of items to be discussed in public more than they are now. I’m an advocate for small, open representative government focused on local tax relief. I position myself as a champion for fiscal responsibility, government accountability and open access to public information.
FOWLER: The main issue facing Middletown is tax increases. I would eliminate wasteful spending. Let’s get rid of what we can’t afford in this town. The Middletown Arts Center and the swim club are just a couple of examples. Our township cannot sustain such frivolous spending when we have seniors who can barely afford to purchase food and homeowners who lose everything when a tropical storm sweeps through, with no solution in place for their longtime flooding predicament. I truly believe in spending within our means.
Q. Why are you qualified to serve on the Middletown Township Committee, or what have you done during your committee term that qualifies you to serve again?
GRENAFEGE: I’m a critical thinker and I really do take an outside the-box approach when exploring an issue or a problem. I really try to look at it differently. Most importantly, I really care about the quality of life for all the residents in Middletown. I have regularly attended township meetings since 2005 because I do care, I do show up and I do speak out. I see that as a qualifier. I’ve been at this for years now as a citizen. I’m engaged in the process.
FOWLER: We’re at a critical point now where people no longer see Middletown as livable. Homeowners are really in a crisis, and I really want to help these people. My children went all through Middletown public schools and cannot afford to buy a house in Middletown. It’s my vision to restore this town to what it was — a reliable and affordable place to live and for tomorrow’s generation to enjoy quality education and to be free of excessive debt burden.
Q. Are there any other issues facing Middletown that you specifically want to address?
GRENAFEGE: I think it’s critical to create a bipartisan finance committee. I would look at revitalizing the recreation program. We made a $400,000 investment in a master plan a few years ago that is collecting dust. I would advocate for a strategic planning committee, a vision and a mission from a longview perspective. I would advocate televising Township Committee meetings. We also need to start looking at how we can create a revenue stream, which means having a lot of conversations with the business community.
FOWLER: I would explore more shared services opportunities between the township and the Board of Education, like consolidating all maintenance of public property in the town under one body. Money could be saved by eliminating health benefits for appointees to our sewerage authority. Law firms that make money on public work but also direct work that is very valuable to other professionals can be put on notice that Middletown deserves to not be fleeced by hourly fee attorneys and engineers