SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Borough voters will have decisions to make at the state level, but on the local front it will be a quiet Election Day. The only local vote is for an open seat on the Spotswood Board of Education. Bertrand Louis is seeking re-election and is running unopposed.
This year is a contrast to last year when two council seats and the office of mayor were on the ballot. Mayor Ed Seely defeated incumbent Nicholas Poliseno as well as Jackie Palmer, the first woman in the borough's history to seek the office. Poliseno finished third in the race behind Palmer and Seely.
The former Spotswood mayor recently made headlines when he was arrested and charged with one third-degree count of theft by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office for allegedly stealing money from a scholarship fund that was set up to honor the memory and service of a borough EMT that was killed in the line of duty. Poliseno is scheduled to make his first court appearance on November 9 in Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick.
Before being elected to office in November 2016, Seely served on the borough council for 12 years and worked with three different mayors, including Poliseno. When asked to describe the first year of his four year term, the 25-year borough resident said it's been "trying."
"Quite honestly, I've been playing catchup for the past ten months with four years of things that weren't done," Seely explained. "There's a great many problems in our borough and of course, I understand them. I have them myself. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and solve everybody's problems, but you can't. We are going through some infrastructure issues right now that require quite a bit of money."
Seely understands the frustration of residents that are dealing with infrastructure issues on their block and wonder why the problems aren't being addressed "yesterday."
"Unfortunately, red tape kills you," Seely continued. "And you have to do the process. If you do it before the process and the process doesn't happen then you're really in trouble financially. We're trying to maintain, which gets more difficult every day."
Currently, Seely is working on negotiating a new PBA contract as well as talking with Helmetta Mayor Chris Slavicek on the fate of the Helmetta Police Department.
Seely feels his office hours on Tuesday and Thursday have been a welcome addition to the borough. Appointments are not necessary for the 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. open hours though they are recommended. Residents interested in making an appointment for Seely's office hours can contact Administrative Assistant Cate Leedy via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 732-416-1824.
Through the weekly office hours, Seely met a man seeking to purchase and renovate the aging red building that sits adjacent to the railroad tracks on Snowhill Street. Seely feels that sprucing up that section will certainly make the surrounding business area more attractive and inviting.
When asked about future plans for the borough, Seely immediately mentioned Devoe Lake.
"I'm actually going to invest a little more time in the lake now that the EMS is settled," Seely said.
Ideally, Seely would like to revitalize Devoe Lake and turn it into an area where the town can hold family-friendly events.
He's talking with freeholders, Senator Linda Greenstein as well as exploring a research grant for hydro-raking in the event funding for dredging cannot be worked out.
"It's not just for the people that live there," Seely said of Devoe Lake. "It's for the borough."
Polls in Spotswood will be open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 7. A sample ballot for Spotswood can be found at the Middlesex County website. Voter information for Spotswood residents is available on the borough's website.