HAMILTON, NJ -- When it comes to financial stability Mayor Kelly Yaede and Council President Jeff Martin took different views on how to move Hamilton forward at Wednesday night’s candidate forum.
Yaede touted her administration’s ability “to do more with less” with approximately 100 fewer municipal employees while cutting taxes by 1.6 percent.
“We have to continue to do things in a different way. Even though I’ve been mayor for seven years you always have to look at how can we do better,” Yaede said.
She added that businesses are coming into Hamilton and took credit for the reduction of the number of blighted properties from 700 to less than 300 properties.
“You see blighted and vacant properties. They’re being developed and redeveloped,” Yaede said in explaining that she brought in a private company to help reduce the number of vacant and abandoned properties.
Martin spoke about meeting a local resident who lives next to a house that is abandoned. The township, he learned “comes out every couple weeks to cut the grass” that comes up almost to her knees.
“The liens are greater than the value of the property,” Martin said. He added that as a council member he has pushed for the use of eminent domain or condemnation on the burned-out row homes on the East State Street extension.
“Here we sit almost 18 months later and those homes are still there,” said Martin who noted that organizations like Habitat for Humanity “were raising their hands” to come in and buy them. “If we could put people in affordable units, not only do we need them, but we could also beautify that neighborhood.”
In touching on water service provided to Hamilton taxpayers by Trenton Water Works (TWW), both candidates touted their actions to address the issue. Yaede called herself “one of the most vocal critics” while Martin pointed to his multiple visits to Trenton Water Works to meet with agency directors.
Martin said that making sure that everyone has clean and safe drinking water should be “basic functions of government.”
“No one should be boiling water. Nobody should have to be buying bottled water because they don’t know if the water they are getting from the tap in their sink is safe to given to their children,” said Martin, adding that Hamilton restaurants should not be serving bottled water and that the issue greatly affects local businesses.
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