(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 Gary Vesce grew up in Piscataway and moved to South Plainfield in 1975. He resided in the borough for more than 30 years and served on the Zoning Board from 2002 to 2007. He relocated to Jamesburg in 2007 and, in April 2014, moved back to South Plainfield.
Vesce has been employed with the Middlesex County Highway Department for 41 years and is currently a general road supervisor. He is a Certified Asphalt Technologist and, since 2000, has been a State Certified Public Works Manager. Vesce was the recipient of an Outstanding Service Award from the Public Works Association of New Jersey and is a member of the NJ Association of County Road Supervisors, serving as its vice president for the past four years.
Serving on the council, said Vesce, will enable him to be more involved in the community and provide him the opportunity to bring issues to the forefront he feels are not being addressed, specifically in the area of infrastructure. “The streets and the roads in South Plainfield are not in the best of shape and, as a member of the council, I would work to see that it is addressed,” Vesce said.
Vesce feels the borough can improve its roads by actively participating in Middlesex’s Interlocal Agreement program. Through the program, he said, municipalities and a neighboring town that shares a road enter into an agreement with the county for repairs at a cost considerably cheaper than hiring a private contractor. Although the borough did utilize the program by joining with Edison earlier this year to have Woodland Avenue repaved, Vesce said that was the first time in years South Plainfield utilized the program.
“Some 10 or 15 years ago, the county did some 70 roads in South Plainfield but that was a long time ago,” said Vesce. “Other towns are constantly turning to us – South Amboy, Sayerville, Spotswood, Highland Park – but not South Plainfield. There needs to be some communication with the county and no one seems to be doing that.”
As a member of the board, Vesce said he would also look into creating a left turn lane on northbound Durham Avenue near McDonald’s and would like to see the southbound side of Sampton Avenue at Lowden/Plainfield avenues widened to create a true left lane. Additionally, he feels more could be done to truck traffic along Hamilton Boulevard. “I know the council has attempted some stuff but from what I can see there is no real plan in place. People on Front Street are now starting to feel the traffic,” he said. “This needs to be examined and straightened out.”
Vesce said his professional background would benefit the borough when it comes to infrastructure issues. “The knowledge and experience I would bring to the table if elected would be an asset to the town,” he said, adding that his position with the county would be of no conflict because he doesn't make the decisions or have final say in what roads do or don’t get done.
When it comes to taxes, Vesce said that, if elected, he would look into where they can be lowered and whether everyone is being taxed equally. “Taxes are always an issue and people are always complaining that they pay too many or too much in taxes. I think anytime you can lower taxes is good,” he said.
Making the borough affordable so that people can stay, said Vesce, is essential. “New Jersey taxes are high and so many, especially those who retire and those who are just starting out, cannot afford to stay,” he said. “My extended family lives here and their kids are growing up in this town. I want to see them prosper so that when they grow up they can stay in town.”
If elected, Vesce said he would also work to see that more is offered for local youth. “We need to do more for the kids with the facilities we have and maybe expand on them. South Plainfield has always been known for its sports and recreations but we need to do more to keep our kids involved and make this a place people want to come and live,” he said, adding, “When you keep kids interested it helps the town grow. The youth are definitely the future here and we need to make our community better for them.”
Vesce said what he loves most about South Plainfield is how ‘tight-knit’ the community it is. “People are always reaching out and helping one another. There are always fundraisers and someone is always doing something for a group or person in their community,” said Vesce. “That’s what community is all about.”
Residents, he said, should elect him to the South Plainfield Borough Council because he is fair, dedicated, committed and willing to put in the time. “I don't play the partisan game and I will work with the council to come up with the best results for residents,” he said. “I just want to do what is best for the residents because I am one and things affect me, too.”