To the Editor:

I received a campaign mailer yesterday sent by Mark Hamilton and Rez Estevez, and as a Chatham Township resident for 26+ years, I found it to be disquieting, deceptive, doctrinaire and dishonest, full of insinuations and false claims. In the interest of truth, it must not go unanswered.

Hamilton and Estevez say that they are for "stability and fiscal responsibility." It may be noble verbiage, but "responsibility" doesn't mean starving the township's budget to where necessary civic services deteriorate. After fixed costs, like schools, only about 19% of the budget is directly in the Township Committee's control; it must be spent wisely if we are to continue to be a desirable place to live. Throttling the budget to where we cannot provide efficient and excellent services, or granting unnecessary tax cuts, is not good government. Good town services aren't free, and ignoring or postponing issues of maintenance and repair instead of attending to them as they arise is the wrong answer. (One example: planned repaving was left undone because of insufficient money appropriated, no thanks to Mark and Rez's compatriots on the hard right on the Township Committee. They can find time to grandstand but not to fix the potholes and broken pavement - and, while we're at it, to do better at keeping the power on. Fact: it takes money to run a top-level town and that money comes from tax revenue. Reasonable taxes are not a burden but an investment, the cost of government for the common good.

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Hamilton and Estevez hype 'open space," but they selectively ignore that Stacey and Celeste have been supporting the environment for years, including service on the Environmental Commission. I'm glad they care, but Mark and Rez act as if those concerns are exclusively theirs; they are not!  Additionally, their claim that Ewald and Fondaco are "inexperienced" is just not true. Shame on these radical Republicans for denigrating their decades of volunteering, fundraising and community service outside of politics.

Stacey and Celeste are hardly "putting partisan politics above the safety of families," another specious claim made by Hamilton and Estevez. Rather, their positions are taken in light of practical legal situations and humanitarian concerns. "Sanctuary cities," yet another scare phrase used in their mailer; tells me almost all I need to know these radical Republicans' campaign: dog whistles for the far-right, doctrine over understanding. (I am frankly surprised and dismayed that this disgusting trope is being used by Ms. Estevez, a person apparently of Hispanic descent.)

Our Township Committee recently joined with Madison, Chatham Borough, Florham Park and other area towns in passing an ordinance limiting the use of plastic bags, a critical source of pollution and degradation of our drinking water. Stacey and Celeste support this measure, but apparently Hamilton and Estevez do not; I guess they'd rather drink plastic mini-particles in our water. But I wouldn't, nor would most people I know across the political spectrum. 

Finally, Celeste and Stacey are definitely not "far left," as this offensive mailer accuses them of being; moderates may look that way to partisans who are far, far to the extreme right and who are not paying attention to the facts. They are centrist moderates who will serve our town well and realistically, as they have done for decades outside the realm of politics.

The Chatham Township Committee can't afford yet more nasty partisanship over practicality from fringe Republicans like Hamilton and Estevez. Celeste and Stacey's positions are in tune with the daily needs and wants of our entire town and all its residents, not just those of one party. In fact, they are endorsed by two former mayors, one Democrat and one Republican, who know they will serve the interests of all our citizens. It is because of the convincing strength of their forward-thinking positions that I will be voting for Stacey Ewald and Celeste Fondaco. I hope you'll join me in doing so.

Paul Payton

67 Candace Lane

Chatham Township