CHATHAM, NJ - One is a two-term township committee member who has served three years as deputy mayor, the second is a former member of the township planning board and a 25-year public works supervisor for Morris County and the third served as a press secretary to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Three men, with three different backgrounds--but all Republicans and all seeking their party’s nod in the Tuesday, June 5, primary election to run for two seats on the township committee.
A seat on the committee is opening up this year because Mayor Nicole Hagner has decided not to seek reelection.
Winning the nomination in the primary this year is tantamount to winning election to the committee because their are no Democratic candidates registered to run for the open seats.
Deputy Mayor Robert Gallop is a trial attorney with the Verona firm of O’Toole Fernandez Weiner Van Lieu LLC. He also is a longtime representative on the Chatham Republican Committee and of Chatham’s CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). The former trustee for the Adult School of the Chathams, Madison and Florham Park also has coaches youth soccer, basketball and baseball in Chatham.
“I am proud of the accomplishments of the Chatham Township Committee during my tenure, “ he said. “We have fought every day to hold the line on taxes and spending and, during the last three years there were no tax increases, and this year will see a tax cut for township residents. Chatham’s fiscal discipline has been done without smoke and mirrors. We have reduced taxes through shared services and proper fixcal management.”
Gallop said if reelected he will continue the battle to control taxes and spending. He advocates continued exploration of shared services and public/private partnerships.
He added, “An elected official’s highest concern is public safety. We’ve learned a lot from Hurricane Sandy. We need to have a generator in the township municipal building for a permanent warming state where residents know they can be safe and secure during times of emergency. We are implementing a new emergency communication system called Everbridge to improve communication with residents.”
The committeeman also noted the township has a program in place to pave its roads and is working with county officials to schedule paving county roads in Chatham.
Gallop believes the fact that he has served during the greatest recession since the Great Depression and the governing body during his term has controlled taxes and spending while maintaining essential services such as police and public works are good reasons to return him to the gocerning body.
Gallop concluded, “I have a proven record of accomplishments along with honesty and integrity. I have delivered on my promises to the people of Chatham. They know we share one joint goal: keeping Chatham Township the best place to live. I trust I have earned their support for reelection.”
Longtime resident Dan Miller said his expertise as a county government supervisor will help keep budget costs lower in the light of rising pension costs.
Miller advocates replacement of necessary personnel under the new state pension rules, but decreasing the township work force through attrition.
Miller added, “I will also get a better return on the 18 percent of our property taxes designated to Morris County by having more infrastructure work done here in Chatham Township rather than other areas of Morris County.”
The candidate also called for better coordination of services between different agencies, including the power companies to minimize the length or service outages. He said his knowledge and hard work will help bring this about.
“Neither of my opponents possesses the history that I bring with me, or the expertise I bring to solve issues, including the practical knowledge of how projects and infrastructure, public works, police and fire operate and what their needs are,” Miller said.
He accused Gallop of letting the status quo dictate and attempting to take credit for the work of the mayor and other committee members. He said the deputy mayor has been a liaison to Colony Pool which “has run a deficit with no viable solution in sight.”
Miller also said the incumbent has been backed by four people who have sued the township, adding, “A sitting committee member should not side with small, disgruntled factions that sue the township over lawful and legitimate ordinances merely for political patronage or vindictives for being in the minority on an issue.”
A group of residents unsuccessfully sued to halt implementation of the ordinance and Gallop, although not present for the vote on the ordinance said he opposed amendment of the land use law to allow for organic gardening. Miller, whose family owns a farm in Chatham, strongly supported the market garden ordinance.
The Green Village resident added that Gallop has not been an effective representative “and does not seem to have the public good in mind. Had it not been for the rest of the committee, the ability to govern would have been extremely diminished.”
In further outlining his background, Miller pointed to his two years of service on the planning board and the fact that he is s fourth-generation member of the Green Village Fire Department. He also served as acting president and senior vice-president of Morris Council 6 for more than 12 years.
Miller also noted that his family (the Hinds family) has lived in Chatham Township for more than 20 years. His wife Carol Ann is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary and they have two children, Daniel and Ryan.
Miller concluded, “When elected, I will bring a new face to the committee with fresh ideas. I will work dilligently to make the town one of the best to live in New Jersey and the tri-state area. We have done well as a town, but we can do better, utlilizing availability of shared services. My 25 years of county experience and contacts will be a major asset in this area.
The third candidate, Curt Ritter, began his professional career as an account executive in the financial services division of Edelman Public Relations, the world’s largest public relations firm, after which he obtained his position in the Giuliani administration. He served as spokesperson for the mayor on economic development, finance and budget related issues and was a liaison between public information officers for various city agencies and City Hall.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Ritter assisted the City Hall press office with press activities and coordination dignitary visits to Ground Zero. He also handled mayoral press conferences and media interviews.
Ritter then worked for W.P. Carey, a real estate investment firm, establishing their corporate communications group and serving as chief spokesperson and director of corporate communications. Currently he is chief spokesperson and director of corporate communications for CIT Group, Inc., a “leading provider of financing and advisory services to small business and middle market companies, base at their comporate headquarters in Livingston.”
The candidate received a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia Business School and a bachelor of arts degree in broadcasting from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.
He has served on the township board of adjustment, taught high school students as a cathechist at Corpus Christi School and coached youth soccer. He also is a member of the Summit Elks.
Ritter also has served as president of the Delbarton Alumni Association in is communications chairman of the Chatham Education Foundation. He also is the founder and president of the Chatham Turkey Trot, an annual race through the Highlands section of the township which has raised more than $25,000 for the Chatham Township Volunteer Fire Department and the Diabetes Research Institute.
As for his reasons for running for office, the candidate said, “One of the most important roles of any government organization is to communicate with its residents both when things are going well and in times of crisis. I believe it is a natural progression for me to take this step and use my communications and political experience and expertise to benefit the Chatham Township community and run for township committee.”
Born and raised in New Jersey, the candidate grew up in New Vernon. He has lived in Chatham Township for nearly a decade with his wife of 13 years, Jen. They have three children: Will, 9, Mollie,8, and Grace, 6, who all attend Southern Boulevard School.
Ritter added that he is committed to managing township spending to make sure tax dollars are spent wisely and finding additional shared services with adjacent municipalities.
He also is an advocate of “common sense regulation,” committed to reviewing proposed regulations, such as those concerning building variances and enactment of ordinances “with a view of what’s best for the community and not necessarily what’s expedient or will benefit a select few.”
The candidate also supports protection of the environment and provision of cost efficient and effective municipal services.