(Editor’s Note: Two at-large seats are up for grabs on the South Plainfield Borough Council. Council terms are three years and Election Day 2015 is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Candidate profiles are being published alphabetically.)
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Democratic candidate Bill Bethea grew up in Edison and has lived in South Plainfield for close to 10 years. Married with children, he is a volunteer coach with the South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club and, for the past 13 years, has owned PPH Baseball, a Mercer County-based baseball academy.
If elected to the council, Bethea said he would take a closer look at the businesses coming into South Plainfield and work to bring in more businesses that would benefit the community. “We have enough pizza places, gas station and banks,” he said. “I would continue to work with the Republicans to build business and bring new businesses that not only create jobs but that are also for the betterment of the community.”
As a homeowner, Bethea said he is concerned about the rise in property taxes over the years. “When I just moved here my taxes were under $4,000 and that now they are somewhere in the $7,000 range,” said Bethea. “I understand that property taxes go up and that goes with the territory, but how much they have gone up is something that should be looked into.”
While he thinks it’s good that the borough is building a new library, Bethea feels more funding and attention should go into South Plainfield’s schools and youth programs. “Let’s turn our focus and let’s start doing things for our youth,” he said, noting that an indoor baseball facility and summer sports camp, along with the return of adult recreation programs, are just a few of the things he would like to see South Plainfield offer. “South Plainfield has a great, rich athletic history, especially at the youth level, and we have some really great facilities but we can offer more,” said Bethea.
Bethea feels that the PAL building with its two gyms and adjacent community pool along with the multipurpose turf field and playground out back are ideal factors for an affordable summer recreation camp. “Things are much different from when I was growing up where dad worked and mom stayed home. Today, both family members work and babysitting is expensive,” he said. “A recreation camp held weekly in the summer would be a great thing and we already have these great facilities here where we can do that.”
Bethea said that his business and sports background – he played baseball professionally for two years in Missouri as a pitcher with the Springfield Ducks – along with his professional experience would be an asset to the borough in helping get something of this nature off the ground. “I am an idea person and feel, if elected, I can help the borough with sports and recreation. I am a business owner who gets to work with kids on a regular basis and I see what kind of impact it can have on a town,” he said. “Currently, no one on the council has that background.”
One of the things Bethea said he loves most about the borough is how community-oriented everyone seems to be. “I love living here and raising my family here. I moved here from Edison over nine years ago and didn't know anybody and now I feel like I have been here my whole life,” he said, adding that he sees serving on the council as a chance to make an impact on the town. “South Plainfield already has a pretty good school system and is already a great town. My focus is on how we can make it better.”
Residents, said Bethea, should elect him to the South Plainfield Borough Council because he isn’t a politician but rather someone who truly cares about the community he calls home. “I am going in with a resident’ eye and I have a pulse on what people, especially young parents, want,” said Bethea, adding, “A guy who didn't grow up in South Plainfield, with outside ideas and fresh eyes, could really help this town.”