To the Editor:

In the thirteen years I have been a resident of the Chatham township, the community has maintained the reputation it had before I moved here. The township is safe. The school district remains well above average. Many opportunities to participate are available to children and adults. Since I arrived in 2006, the schools have been funded appropriately, the public infrastructure maintained, green space expanded and private development has remained reasonable. The tax base increased with investment by private homeowners and government spending remained balanced; the townships' credit rating improved to AAA in 2017. Community services for the seniors have expanded, educational & athletic opportunities for children have grown and the town “scores well” in a variety of “best of” comparison surveys. Chatham township is a good place to live, I think!?.

The one area of the community that has been a disappointment and where the quality of the town has devolved rapidly over the past two years, is the heavily partisan politicking. For reference, my personal voting ballot is fairly purple at the national and state level. I am registered Republican because I align more closely with the fiscally conservative nature of the Republican party compared with that of the Democrat party. My social views are more similar to that of Democrats though I consider myself to be a practical centrist with libertarian leanings.

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The local Chatham Democrat leadership, https://www.chathamnjdemocrats.com/ has done the community a terrible disservice with its sustained rhetoric of “US vs them” mentality executed under the nonsensical guise of  “inclusion, cooperation and transparency”. The Chatham Democrat leadership has knowingly, and brazenly, filled their communications to the public with deceit and deception, instilling strife unnecessarily. The local Democrat leadership has driven an orchestrated attempt to undermine harmony within the community by promulgating opinion as fact, perpetuating baseless denigration of political rivals and communicating outward disrespect of broad swaths of the Chatham township population.

Democrat Township councilwoman Tracy Ness, Scholarship chair of the Chatham Democrat Executive Board and Democrat candidate Stacey Ewald, Treasurer and Sergeant at Arms (really?) for the Chatham Democrat Executive Board, are at the tip of the spear in creating this discord within the community. The local, self-appointed, Chatham Democrat leadership often has polarizing perspectives which do NOT represent the views of many local Democrats. Having watched many a township council meeting on TV this past year, it is disheartening to witness what has become of the township politics and the nonsense that the Democrat leadership has supported.

It was informative to learn that  Mrs. Fondaco is an artist, bee keeper, an auxiliary EMT member, tenured township resident, https://www.tapinto.net/towns/chatham/sections/elections/articles/candidate-statement-for-chatham-township-committee-celeste-fondaco Twenty-five years ago she was involved with traffic zoning and open space committees. In recent letters to the Editor, Mrs. Fondaco has received endorsements from a former mayor long since removed from the community, along with several friends who are no longer residents. Mrs. Fondaco has been an active member of the community.

The township needs representatives who can effectively negotiate with developers, state representatives, lawyers and sophisticated federal agencies, like the EPA. The township needs representatives who are informed of laws and aware of budgetary constraints. The township needs representatives who understand that the desirability of the town lies in maintaining our top-notch educational system, sustaining property values and allowing residents to live without the burden of an overbearing local government.

Mark Hamilton and Rez Estevez are the most qualified candidates for the township council given their education, professional expertise and concern for keeping Chatham township a desirable place to live.  Mark and Rez are transparent about their primary interest being that of a strong township community. Mark and Rez are focused on maintaining and improving the areas of the town that will increase property values. Mark and Rez are focused on defending the liberties of residents from unilateral state and federal policy. Their democrat opponents are far more concerned about partisanship and dividing the community. Allow me the opportunity to explain why I hold these views.

In Mrs. Ewald’s and Mrs. Fondaco’s recent Letter to the Editor of the Chatham Tap, https://www.tapinto.net/towns/chatham/categories/letters-to-the-editor/articles/candidates-shouldn-t-hide-from-voters, they errantly characterized their Republican opponents as lacking transparency and integrity for not being able to participate in the local debate hosted by the LWV. The character assassination attempt was done with ill intent and without compassion.

Mrs. Ewald and Mrs. Fondaco were both well aware of the reason as to why their opponents were unable to attend the League of Women Voters debate on that specific date; detailed here  https://www.tapinto.net/towns/chatham/categories/letters-to-the-editor/articles/the-truth-about-the-township-debate. The LWV refused to accommodate the Republican candidates very personal situation nor equitize the debate framework as a compromise. Mrs. Ewald’s & Mrs. Fondaco’s heavily partisan and deceitful attack, while knowing the facts and circumstances full well, is in direct contrast to their personal candidate statements of fairness and non-partisanship.       

Mrs. Ewald and Mrs. Fondaco, along with Democrat party political stalwarts Webster Lewin, Melissa Cavallone and Jennifer McNally have knowingly promulgated falsehood on social media despite knowing facts and circumstances to the contrary. Mrs. McNally stated in a well-publicized social media posting that “The word Republican and moral compass on the same page is a true oxymoron” with the local Democrat leadership endorsing this view with comments of praise and “likes”.

In Mrs. Ewald’s Candidate letter to the editor in the Chatham Courier, https://www.newjerseyhills.com/chatham_courier/news/ewald-sees-herself-an-agent-of-positive-change-for-township/article_b3fcf505-678f-53fd-8f79-2bffe0c4d81c.html she highlights an illusionary condition of underinvestment and a destitute township infrastructure driven, in her opinion, by the fiscal irresponsibility of the most recent Chatham township councils.  It is surprising to see Mrs. Ewald characterize the townships’ financial condition as such, given her MBA and work experience as an internal auditor from twenty years ago. Look at the data, please.....

Mrs. Ewald is incorrect in her assessment of the financial condition of the township and the condition of the township infrastructure. If only looking at Moody’s municipal rating of the Chatham township, one can see that under Curt Ritter & Kevin Sullivan’s stewardship, the Township received an UPGRADE to AAA in 2017 from the Aa1 rating in 2013.

Looking further at the capital spending and tax information of the township, all sourced from annual budgets at https://www.chathamtownship-nj.gov/departments/finance it is plainly evident that from 2014 to 2018, under prior Mayors Sullivan and Ritter, the township improved infrastructure and open space, while keeping taxes low. There has been no underinvestment.

Capital Budget 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
Purchase of DPW Equipment $300,000 $100,000 $150,000 $50,000 $100,000 $20,000
Purchase of Police Equipment     $30,000 $20,000 $10,000 $50,000
Road Improvements $300,000 $500,000 $1,250,000 $250,000 $500,000 $500,000
Recreation Improvements $150,000          
Building Improvements   $150,000 $50,000   $50,000 $100,000
Purchae of Administrative Equipment            
Fire Equipment $100,000 $50,000 $50,000 $30,000 $50,000 $50,000
UST Remediation           $25,000
Colony Pool Improvements   $35,000   $250,000 $10,000  
Purchase of Fire Truck $1,000,000       $1,000,000  
Improvements to Joing Library       $285,000 $485,000  
Purchase of Open Space     $1,800,000      
Utility Plant Improvements $300,000          
Total Capital Expenditures $2,150,000 $835,000 $3,330,000 $885,000 $2,205,000 $745,000
Fire Trucks & Open Space $1,000,000 $0 $1,800,000 $0 $1,000,000 $0
Ongoing Capital Expenditures $1,150,000 $835,000 $1,530,000 $885,000 $1,205,000 $745,000
             
  2019 2018 2017 2016 2015  
Property Tax Rate 1.83% 1.79% 1.76% 1.75% 1.74%  
Average Residential Taxpayer Impact $14,755 $13,974 $13,755 $13,698 $13,433  
% growth 5.59% 1.59% 0.42% 1.97%    
$ growth $781.0 $219.0 $57.0 $264.8    
             
  2019 2018 2017 2016 2015  
Property value Assessed to True value 89.22% 89.58% 89.58% 90.40% 91.78%  

However, in 2019, under the influence of Tracy Ness and the Chatham Democrat leadership, the township tax burden per resident ($14,755), as well as the property tax rate (1.83%), INCREASED. In fact, the $781 increase in 2019 is more than the cumulative $541 growth experienced during the three previous years. The tax rate at 1.83% is the highest in the past 5 years.

Among other reasons, this poor budgeting is likely why the Republican base did not support Tayfun Selen for re-election and instead nominate Rez Estevez and Mark Hamilton in June of this year. The trajectory of change in property taxes, especially given the reassessment that is due, should be a cause for concern for Township voters on November 5, 2019. Rez and Mark are very outspoken about keeping the tax base in line.  

These latest incidents and claims reflect the Democrat candidate’s personal judgment, sense of entitlement, partisanship as well as their leadership style. None of which will help the Township address the forthcoming budgetary issues, state and federal regulators looking to impose value destructive policy on the Township or the continuing balance of growth and preservation within the Township.

Rez Estevez and Mark Hamilton are the most interested and qualified candidates for the Chatham Township. Please vote for them on November 5, 2019.

David Deuchler,

25 Hickory Place