MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Committee will have two openings at the end of December. There are five candidates for the positions, and TAPinto Montville will be speaking with all five. We recently spoke with candidate Annabel Pierce.

1. Name one item you would reduce or cut in the township budget and explain why.

As a successful business owner with a degree in economics I have the skills to examine budgets by reviewing past expenses, identifying cost savings, efficiencies and ways to streamline budget items while maintaining the township’s high-quality services. Cutting spending is always achievable but requires careful scrutiny and keen discussion of the facts and avoiding making hasty decisions. I look forward to that opportunity once elected to the Township Committee. 

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2. What do you believe is the most important issue in this local election? How would you change it?

Like many towns, the most important issue for Montville residents is the challenge to keep Municipal taxes low while keeping expenses under control. Montville Township Committee members have done a great job keeping our taxes below the 2% state mandated cap and I look forward to working together with my colleagues on the TC to continue that success. I will bring my unique business approach to local budgeting to further scrutinize spending and ease property tax burden and supporting responsible commercial redevelopment of underutilized properties along highway corridors. These actions will increase ratables, reduce homeowner taxes and keep Montville Township one of the best places to live. It's important to preserve our community standards, protect our environment and make sure that our roads and infrastructure are well maintained. 

3. Do you feel that you're ready to handle the external issues facing the town such as the pipeline and the affordable housing litigation?

In Montville, the proposed Pilgrim pipeline route will encroach into the Towaco Valley aquifer, our primary municipal water source. It will also negatively impact sensitive wetlands and floodplains, and will come within 500 feet of Lazar Middle School. 

To build the pipeline project, numerous approvals are needed, including several NJDEP permits and easements from PSE&G.  While PSE&G opposes the project, there are concerns that the federal government may exercise eminent domain powers to obtain property easements along the proposed route. 

Montville Township Committee has been actively following developments in the pipeline proposal and passed a resolution opposing Pilgrim Pipeline, joining with 60 other municipalities along the route.  If elected, I will work together with the Township Committee members, NJ State Assembly representatives and Senator Pennacchio to strongly oppose this project in its present form.

Affordable Housing: I have attended township committee meetings when this topic was discussed and also spoken with various planning professionals and many NJ elected officials to become knowledgeable on this complex and controversial subject. 

The good news is that Montville Township has several hundred existing affordable housing units that were built to satisfy COAH’s prior round of obligations, so our community is in better shape than many other towns thanks to our governing body’s foresight.  In recent months, the Fair Share Housing Center, an advocacy group, argued before the Supreme Court that the projected 10 year affordable housing needs for NJ far exceed the available supply. Potentially Montville could be required to provide over 6,000 new homes and apartments!  To date, the Montville Township Committee has done a great job in protecting the town while meeting state mandated affordable obligations. I look forward to further evaluating this evolving issue and taking any and all necessary measures to ensure the best outcome for the Montville residents. It is important to safeguard our infrastructure and protect our public school system from un-necessary high density development.

Currently there are two bills pending in the NJ State Assembly that propose important modifications to the affordable housing requirements. The Senate is also active on this matter.    

The best course of action is to work closely with the NJ legislature to enact laws clarifying the affordable housing rules and formulas throughout the state rather than leave decisions to individual courts on a town by town basis. It is expensive to litigate and difficult to predict the outcome.  With clear laws, we can expect to reduce our township expenditures and minimize the potential for new high density housing constructed solely to satisfy future affordable housing obligations.  

4. Why do you feel you deserve the job? What qualifies you for it?

Over the years I have attended numerous Township Committee meetings, taking the time to learn about our local government’s challenges and responsibilities.

Currently I serve as a member of the Montville Township Board of Adjustment, liaison to the Montville Township Design and Review Committee, member of the Morris County Planning Board, member of the Morris County Open Space and Preservation Trust Fund Committee and the County College of Morris Business School Advisory Board.  

I also volunteer on several committees at Cedar Hill Elementary school (Character Education Committee, Diversity Committee – to name a few) and Cub Scout Pack 68.

In addition, since 2014, I have led Montville Republican Party as the Republican County Committee Chair. I am an active member and past president of the local Montville Republican Club, and serve as a Board Member of Morris County Women’s Republican Club.

My volunteerism, business experience, and record of advocating for conservative principals demonstrate my deep commitment to the Republican Party and to our community.

I have the energy and enthusiasm to perform the public duties required as a member of Montville Township Committee. I am qualified and knowledgeable in tasks needed for the position.

5. What do you bring to the dais that's different?

I have been involved in many leadership roles and have dedicated countless hours volunteering throughout our community. I am the CEO and CFO of a successful environmental service company with offices in Pine Brook, NJ, Albany and Rochester, NY. My business and I were the recipients of the 2017 Good Neighbor Award from the Montville Chamber of Commerce. Notably, I was called on by the NJ Governor and Lt. Governor as 1 of 15 female business executives to help shape pro-growth policies in NJ.

I know how to keep spending and taxes in check to keep Montville moving forward. Montville families and seniors deserve a leader who understands the value of a dollar and stands firmly for fiscally conservative principles. As a small business owner, I always keep my eye on the bottom line and will use that experience to protect Montville Township taxpayers.