To the Editor:

Joining former mayors and past and current committee members, I am endorsing Stacey Ewald and Celeste Fondaco for the Chatham Township Committee because we need help.  Mark & Rez represent the old guard hyperpartisan politics that have led to  crippling dysfunction. Their lack of understanding of our affordable housing obligations and desire to relitigate will expose the township to builder's remedy lawsuits and more development that will be out of our control. Hands off governance has resulted in a complete lack of financial or strategic planning which is causing taxes to increase. 

     Taxing rain, participation trophies and sanctuary cities? These are not issues facing the township and our residents are smarter than that. Stacey and Celeste are directly engaging residents, addressing issues, answering questions and willing to face our challenges head on. 

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     It has been an eye opening experience being on the committee. Attempts to address deteriorating facilities and infrastructure and  create short and long term goals have been blocked with some members refusing to participate. More time was spent questioning yoga refunds than a resolution on a debt management plan that called for a one cent increase to the tax rate to help manage future interest payments. Stacey and Celeste's committment to the township, leadership roles in community organizations and combined 45 years of service and collaboration will be of significant benefit as we face some challenging years ahead. 

     Over the next several years, we are facing implementing the 2018 affordable housing settlement, managing increased interest payments, bringing our police building into state compliance, and dealing with aging infrastructure and storm water issues. Stacey's experience as an financial audit professional and Celeste's deep knowledge of the Township and Green Village will be fundamental in navigating these issues.

    While it will be difficult to fund the the 2018 settlement and the affordable housing units,  I cringe when I hear a candidate say 'it will change the face of the community' or a committee member say 'it will change the complexion of our community.' The income cap for affordable housing is more than $76,000. These faces are teachers, police officers, firemen, retail employees, those starting on their careers and those living on a fixed incomes. While some may not agree with the affordable housing mandate, that ship has sailed and demeaning people is never the right answer. 

     We need moderate voices on the committee who will represent the Township and its residents and not the interest of others. We lost out on sidewalks, public access and walking trails at Dixiedale as part of a last minute request from former Mayor Nicole Hagner and supported by Committeewoman Karen Swartz. Connecting almost 30% of our community living in Coachlight, Briarwood and Sutton Woods is part of our Master Plan goals and were in the 2018 development resolution passed unanmiously by the committee. That's looking out for the best interests of the developer and not our community.

    A strong measure of candidate's potential is their involvement in the community. Stacey has worked on behalf of residents for years through the Chatham Education Foundation, the Municipal Alliance and more. And her skillset as a senior financial audit professional will be a valuable addition as we are being hit with coming expenditures. Celeste has served residents as a member of the emergency squad, she fought and won to reduce Shunpike from 4 to 2 lanes, has served as President of the Art League of the Chathams and was charter member of the open space committee. Their opponents don't have this experience, prefer to attack rather than provide their positions on issues and represent the hyperpartisan faction that is not in step with our community today.

     Stacey and Celeste's perspective, experience in our community, willingness to question and face our financial challenges, and desire to collaborate for the best possible outcome make them the only choice for the future of the Township.

On November 5th, Please vote for Stacey Ewald and Celeste Fondaco. 

Sincerely,

Tracy Ness

Township Committeewoman