Dear Editor,

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the clothes they wear. I’ve served on the Chatham Township Committee now for nearly six years -  two as Deputy Mayor, three as Mayor, and now, my last year, as a Committee Member. Over these six years, I would often encounter residents around town, be it at Corpus Christi, SBS, Lafayette, the Middle School, Shop Rite or the recreation fields. Some folks knew who I was, others didn’t. It really didn’t matter to me, so long they knew I was doing what I could in my leadership capacity to be responsive to their needs, listening to their concerns – keeping our taxes low, ensuring their safety and property rights, communicating openly and honestly, and working to ensure that Chatham Township remained a great place to live, raise a family, and retire.

Compare this to the last six months since Tayfun Selen was chosen to be Mayor by the sole Democrat on the Township Committee while two Republicans voted no. Over these past 150 days, Tayfun has spent countless hours personally designing and producing specialty clothing, car decals, and magnets highlighting his position as Mayor rather than addressing the important issues facing Chatham Township residents. After spending countless dollars on his Mayoral wardrobe it’s become uncomfortably clear what his priorities are. He has:

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• Spent more time choosing between polyester, cotton, or cotton-blend than listening to residents at Committee meetings where he has been quick to use the gavel to restrict their comments, often when their views differ from his own.

• Spent more time selecting the font size and type for his embroidery than he has on trying to find a solution to the perennial parking problem Chatham Township residents face every day as they race to find an available parking spot at the train station.

• Spent more time picking colors for his short sleeve shirts than he has in recognizing the damage he did with his own Saturday Night Massacre when he unceremoniously removed several long-term serving volunteers from the Planning Board, for no justifiable reason, just as the Board has begun to evaluate the Township’s affordable housing obligation. An issue that will have a long-term impact on the Township. 

• Spent more time deciding between fleece, pullover, or vest than in evaluating and listening to the concerns of property owners who seek to maximize the value of their homes and not have restrictions imposed on their ability to do so. 

• Spent more time choosing between short and long sleeve than on recognizing our volunteers – this is the first time in years that the Township has not recognized the hard work of our volunteers, the backbone of our community, during National Volunteer Month.

• Spent more time deciding between magnets or peel-off decals than on identifying ways to market and promote the summer camp at The Colony Pool Club, which will not happen because of lack of interest. 

• Spent more time debating between buttons or zippers than in creating unwarranted special advisory committees whose members would be solely appointed by him, no wait, he did waste a lot of time on this, but we were able to block this effort. 

Why do I bring this up? Because no time in the history of Chatham Township has an elected official ever felt the need or gone to the extreme efforts that Tayfun has in personally designing, producing, and spending hundreds of dollars on their own Mayoral swag. This is an individual who’s obviously in it for the title. After he was chosen by the sole Democrat on the Committee he went on a worldwide media blitz to tout his election. I understand he has since walked back many of his controversial comments (https://bit.ly/2JxDNZt). At one point, after it was discovered that he had colluded with Democrat Tracy Ness to secure his position as Mayor, the Chatham Township Republican Committee voted to censure him for his apparent backroom dealings.

​As elected officials, we hold office because we want to make a difference and solve the problems of our residents - not to be recognized for these efforts, or to wear the title on our sleeves, or in Tayfun’s case his breast pocket, driver side door, and back bumper. 

This June 4th, I encourage you to join me along with the past four Chatham Township Mayors in casting your vote for Mark Hamilton and Rez Estevez -- two individuals who serve as experienced lawyers in their respective fields and who have been active and dedicated volunteers in our community. They will put Chatham Township first and have your best interest at heart. Vote for Mark Hamilton and Rez Estevez. They are committed to focusing their efforts on preserving Chatham Township’s track record of low taxes, fiscal responsibility, property rights, integrity and transparency, not on designing the latest Mayoral couture. 

On June 4th please do your part to get Chatham Township back on track. Say no to the swag and hand Tayfun his bag. 

Curt Ritter

Chatham Township Committee member