Democratic candidates Greg Newcomer, Brian Sattinger and Mark Hines have plenty of ideas for what they’d like to accomplish if elected to council—a finished town hall, a revitalized Main Street, a township TV channel—but their core message is simple.
Their primary mission, Hines said, is to find out “What does the community want, and really work hard to make sure we understand. So if I walk down the street and I said, ‘What do you expect out of Moorestown?,’ and you walk down and talk to another person and ask, ‘What do you expect out of Moorestown?,’ we’d start really putting it together and synthesize it into a vision.”
The candidates peppered words like “discussion,” “dialogue,” and “consensus” throughout their conversation about their goals and plans as would-be council members. Though strategically attempting to avoid criticism of the current council, the Democrats said they feel as though Moorestown’s elected representatives have been lacking the aforementioned qualities the last few years.
“We’re all motivated because we want to represent the community and work for the citizens, not dictate what’s going to happen to the community,” said Hines, a 17-year resident who went after a council seat in 2008. “And that’s not a set of words; it’s a process we have to live to if elected.”
As such, their very first order of business would be reinstating the “Residents Requests and Presentations” portion of the council agenda to give residents a chance to have their voice heard without making them wait until the end of the meeting or imposing a strict time limit. This practice disappeared from the agenda about a year and a half ago, Hines said, and though it “may seem small … it’s taking away the voice of the citizen.”
Priority number one, they said, is . Township council has said they expect groundbreaking to take place this summer, so it may be a moot point by the time new council members are sworn in in January. But the candidates believe there hasn’t been enough public participation in the discussion surrounding the project, which is why they say they’re not sure exactly where it currently stands.
“The town hall resolution is not yet clear,” said Newcomer. “If we decide to build a building and have a court over here and a police over here, we’ve removed ourselves from the town center idea. Is that something we want to do without a discussion?”
Besides their spirit of inclusiveness, Newcomer believes the Dems are fielding a strong ticket because they each bring unique strengths to the table.
Sattinger, who’s spent his whole career in finance and is currently CFO at a financial investment advisory firm, is the numbers guy. Hines, a research and development manager for a specialty chemical company, is adept at management and research. And Newcomer, a 27-year resident with experience serving on multiple township committees and boards (and a past Citizen of the Year), said he’s “pretty knowledgeable about many sides of the way things work in town.”
The candidates didn’t have much to say about —other than that they’re people “of good will”—and shrugged off the notion that party politics plays a role in local government.
“I would hope, Democrats and Republicans, Moorestown comes first,” said Sattinger.
There are plenty of other important issues, besides the town hall complex, facing Moorestown at the moment. Here’s where the Democratic candidates stand on some of them:
Economic development would, of course, also be a primary focus, the candidates said, and they’d seek creative strategies to , as well as the other retail districts in town (Young Avenue, Lenola Road, the mall).
Hines outlined a strategy, which would include reinvesting into hiring a Main Street/downtown manager to take care of marketing and development of the business community.
Newcomer said this would be “done through creative funding, not an impact on the taxpayer,” possibly involving contributions from local businesses.
He also said he’d like to create a brochure to attract tenants for the industrial buildings in town.
“If we had more of those industrial users, we might increase the tax base,” Newcomer said. “There’d be more people coming into town, more people working. It would be something that would be of real value to us.”
Hines, who with his wife, Elizabeth Endres, acknowledged the current will likely be a non-issue come election time, but the candidates said the ongoing discussion of how to spend the Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund will continue to be an issue.
“What it comes down to (is), how does the community want that money spent?” Hines said. “And if recreation’s part of it and part of the community wants that, that’s something to consider … So far I’m not seeing the sentiment for (that).”
to restrict spending from the trust fund, but to no avail.
The three candidates, who are all personally opposed to using money from the trust fund for active recreation, said they’d be open to a referendum “if we couldn’t get the community’s viewpoint any other way,” said Sattinger. “I would hope we could find a consensus without that. It doesn’t seem like we’ve been able to.”
Sattinger said he’d like to resurrect the idea of a Moorestown television channel to air informative programming for residents. The township, school board and any group or nonprofit could secure airtime, he said.
The concept gained some traction when Sattinger served on the township telecommunications and technology committee, he said—with Comcast even providing a $50,000 or $75,000 contribution for the initial capital cost—but ultimately went nowhere.
Sattinger said he’d push for a township channel if elected “so we can communicate amongst ourselves through the medium we all have the most access to.”
Hines would like to boost Main Street’s aesthetic appeal—without using tax dollars—by bringing back flowers and the addition of the .
Newcomer said he’d like the township to take a more forward-thinking approach to a number of elements of its infrastructure—primarily buildings, transportation, energy and information technology—and mentioned the addition of electronic vehicle charging stations (for township vehicles) as one example.
“If we have (the stations) wherever township vehicles are, we’re going to be on the edge of making ourselves more sustainable and affordable,” he said. “There are really important areas we haven’t focused on because we’re on these (other) problems. We need to look forward.”
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