Montville Township Committee Candidates Night Brings Lively Debate

Montville Township Committee Candidates Night was co-hosted by the Montville Township Public Library and the Valhalla Civic Association. Incumbents Jim Sandham and Deb Nielson answered questions alongside challenger Dan Grant. Library Director Allan Kleiman moderated the debate. Credits: Hope White

MONTVILLE, NJ - Montville Township Committee candidates participated in a Candidates Night held in the Library’s Pio Costa Auditorium on Monday evening, Oct. 27. The event was co-hosted by the Montville Township Public Library and the Valhalla Civic Association and moderated by Library Director Allan Kleiman.

Three candidates are vying for two open seats on the Montville Township Committee. Incumbents Jim Sandham and Deborah Nielson answered questions alongside challenger Dan Grant.

The evening began with each candidate making a short opening statement.

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“Fiscal responsibility is the reason why I ran for the Township Committee the first time. Times have changed and we have weathered some storms since then,” Sandham said. “Now we are in a fight with JCP&L about the proposed power lines through Montville. I want to see that fight to the end and that’s why I am running this time.”

Nielson said in her opening statement, “I would like to see Montville remain a top 100 community in the U.S. We work together on the Township Committee. All of our ideas are diverse, we speak our minds and are all independent thinkers. During my time on the Township Committee, the town’s debt has been reduced by $30 million and government efficiencies have been increased…We still have more to do in the next three years.”

“I’m the last man standing on our side,” Grant stated as he began his opening statement. “Montville was a great place to grow up. I’d like to see it remain the same kind of great place…I see myself more as a community activist than a politician. I am dedicated to this town and I hope to die in this town.”

The candidates were then presented with questions that had been submitted by the public both in advance of and during the event. For over an hour, the candidates addressed a broad range of topics that included the Township’s budget, fiscal responsibility, taxes, and water and sewer rate structure.

Kleiman first asked the candidates to comment about the water and sewer utilities focusing on how rates can be set to ensure that users are not overcharged, as well as providing an understanding as to what has become of the budget surplus in this area.


The candidates also provided their perspectives about Montville’s property taxes, especially in light of the impact the recent tax re-evaluation process had on property owners’ assessments.


The candidates were asked about a political affiliation and its bearing on local governance. All three of the candidates agreed that being a member of the Township Committee is about the community and not about political party affiliation. 


The candidates ended the evening with each making a short closing statement.

In his closing remarks, Sandham referenced that the debt and tax rates have come down to a more reasonable level during his years serving on the Township Committee and that he doesn’t let road blocks stop him. “I bring a can-do attitude to the Township Committee,” he said. “I think we have done a good job doing the citizens work for our nine years in office and I hope to do it for three more years.”

“Much has changed in the past 8½ years that we’ve been on the Township Committee and the job is ever-changing. Some of the issues that we found relevant in 2005 are still relevant, some of them have changed, economics have changed and the focus of the municipality has changed. We must adapt. We must embrace new ideas, new people and a new thought process,” Nielson said. “I hope that Jim and I have demonstrated that week after week we are part of your elected body, working together to bring you a better Montville going forward.”

“As I said in my opening remarks, my family has lived in this town since 1917 and that gives me no extraordinary privileges and that doesn’t mean that my ideas are better than somebody who just moved into town this year, but it does give me an historical perspective about the community and how I want to see it develop and more importantly the aspects of the community that I consider are the best remain that way.” Grant said. “It really isn’t about democrats and republicans. It’s about independence and it’s about bringing things to the public that ought to be brought to the public.”

After the debate, Kleiman commented that he was pleased with the outcome of the event. “It went very well. All candidates participated in a friendly and lively debate,” he said. “This is the first candidate debate co-sponsored by the Library and we would like to partner with other Township organizations in the future to ensure that Montville’s residents of all ages actively participate in all types of civic engagement.”

To learn more about the candidates and each of their platforms, click on the following links:

Five Questions With…Jim Sandham

Five Questions With…Deb Nielson

Five Questions With…Dan Grant

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