June 2, 2017
In next week’s primary for the 2 open Township Committee seats, there are 4 Republicans vying for the nomination, and one Democrat running unopposed for the nomination. We believe this will be a tight race; whoever you support, it’s very important that you vote.
John Albanese and Jonathan Heller are running on one Republican ticket, opposed by Wayne Borella and Britt Simon.
CFR is most closely aligned with the positions taken by Albanese and Heller. We agree with their approaches in continuing the town’s opposition to airport expansion, to enhancing our preserved land and open spaces, to fostering economic growth and tax ratables through smart development, and to continue cooperation with the court mandates on affordable housing while pressing for relief through State legislative actions. Over the past five years, our home prices have increased, our Township debt has decreased, and our property taxes have risen much more slowly than in previous decades.
We disagree with the Simon/Borella on not incurring legal fees to fight airport expansion. While everyone resents the legal costs, and all the candidates favor negotiation with the Solbergs (as does CFR), ceasing to fight expansion in court simply hands the Solbergs the right to proceed with expansion. Court cases have proven that the Solbergs have always wanted, and continue to desire, to expand the runways and commercial operations far beyond their publicly stated intentions. This is where negotiations have always foundered, and why it is naïve to expect concessions from the Solbergs if the appeal is withdrawn.
The Simon/Borella team opposes the Nelson Street development. We have reluctantly supported this development for reasons laid out in a recent article. Britt Simon has slurred affordable housing by calling this development a slum in a post on our Facebook page. We believe everyone, even those with lower incomes, should have an opportunity to live in Readington Township and enjoy the quality of life we value. And, given that the Nelson Street development was part of a plan submitted to the State demonstrating the Township’s compliance with our AH obligations, failure to proceed could jeopardize our immunity from ‘builder’s remedy’ lawsuits which can override the town’s Master Plan and zoning with devastating impacts on the character of Readington and the taxes we all bear.
We also have serious concerns about Mr. Simon’s approach to public service. After Mr. Simon spent one year as vice chairperson of the Board of Adjustment (our zoning board) he was unable to secure anyone to second his nomination for a second term. The longtime current chair of that board felt strongly enough about his disruptive and aggressive behavior to write a letter to the editor to share her perspective: http://thehunterdoncountynews.com/letter-to-the-editor-readington-election-3/. The episode represents an absence of trust and respect from for his colleagues which is critical to making government work. While Mr. Simon calls for more openness in respect from government, his actions on the BOA were the opposite. As a member of the BoA he hired an attorney for that board with the participation of only one other member –typically there are several – and interviewed only one candidate. That attorney was not kept on when his term expired. We’ve also observed first-hand how Mr. Simon interacts with members of the community in public settings such as town meetings and community boards. He demonstrates a habit of being combative and argumentative with residents who question him or disagree with him. He badgers and bullies others, makes baseless allegations, and is quick to threaten lawsuits against those who stand their ground. This aggressive behavior may serve him well in a courtroom; it is not the respectful leadership Readington needs and deserves.
Mr. Borella is a familiar figure at Township Committee meetings for his protests regarding the unpaved condition of Foothill Road. We applaud people who decide to get involved in local government in an effort to make a difference, even when we disagree with their positions. He and Mr. Simon have attacked CFR as being too close to existing members of the Township Committee; let’s be honest, this is a small town and there is an even smaller group of people active in its government. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that people with similar visions for the town will often see eye to eye. CFR has always clearly stated its editorial position and differentiated our opinions from facts. We remain committed to helping the community stay informed on issues that affect the people who make Readington their home.
During the general election in the fall we’ll take a closer look at the candidacy of Democrat Alan Harwick, who has no opponent in this primary. We endorse the Albanese/Heller ticket in the Republican primary. Again, we urge you to make sure to vote no matter who you support. Local elections don’t get the attention that statewide and national races do, but at the end of the day are more likely to affect us on a day to day basis.