Dems want to run on strength of their records

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Joan KapitanJoan Kapitan

EDISON — The four incumbent Democrats seeking re-election to the Township Council say they have accomplished a lot for the township.

Incumbent council members Peter Barnes III, Joan Kapitan, Billy Kruczak and Charles Tomaro have all served on the council for the past eight years. All four said they want to run on the strength of their records.

Republicans Zolton Koye, Satish Poondi, Edward Richardson and Lee Sakol are also seeking the four seats up for grabs in this year’s race.

Barnes, 48, who lives at 72 Buchanan Road, has served as the council president for the past year.

Billy KruczakBilly Kruczak

In his eight years in office, Barnes said he has voted to eliminate health benefits for all council people and part-time staff of the township, sponsored an ordinance to place an open space tax on the ballot, voted in favor of using grant money to hire police officers and firefighters, and saved many acres of open space.

He also implemented the "Save Our Seniors Program" which sends volunteers to visit with senior citizens and take care of some of their needs, Barnes said.

Barnes is a partner in the law firm of Jorgensen and Barnes, located in Woodbridge.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pa., a master’s in business administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, and a law degree from Widener University School of Law, Wilmington, Del.

Barnes has been a resident of Edison since he was five years old, he said.

Kapitan, in her eight years on the council, has worked on a variety of committees, including the parks committee, library board, emergency planning committee, health advisory board, finance committee, safety committee and Zoning Board, she said.

Kapitan, 69, who resides at 184 Echo Avenue, was a teacher at Judd Elementary School in North Brunswick for 21 years before retiring 10 years ago, she said.

She attended Trenton State Teachers College, Ewing.

Peter Barnes IIIPeter Barnes III

Kapitan said she is proud to be a member of a council that preserved open space.

She has been a resident of Edison for 51 years.

Kapitan feels she brings a unique point of view to the council.

"I do think it’s good to have a woman on the board. We do need a female point of view," Kapitan said. "Being the oldest on the council, I know how seniors feel, that they can’t afford more (tax) raises."

Kruczak, 47, of 61 Woodbury Road, has also been a council member for the past eight years.

He is an investigator for the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, Newark, he said. He also is the owner of The Oak Hill Delicatessen in Edison.

Kruczak attended Middlesex County College, Edison, and Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

He said the council has worked well together to pass a disclosure ordinance, which requires any council members to disclose whether or not any of their family members work for local, county, state or federal government agencies.

The council has worked to save open space, Kruczak also said.

"It is important to save as much open space as we can," he said.

Kruczak is a lifelong Edison resident

Tomaro, 49, of 4 Waverly Drive East, is also proud to have been part of the council for the past eight years, he said.

He has promoted volunteerism in Edison by waiving municipal fees for volunteer fire and first aid workers, and by helping to implement the Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) that compensates volunteers for their years of work for the town, he said.

Tomaro also worked to get the skateboard park built, "so kids would have a place to do their tricks," he said.

The Democratic candidates said they are working to keep the municipal tax rate affordable.

"We do our damnedest on the municipal side," Tomaro said.

"Taxes have always been an issue in Edison, as they have been in every town," Barnes said.

"The seniors that are on a fixed income have trouble meeting any increases," Kapitan said. "The young people have a hard time affording them, too."

The council is currently reviewing the mayor’s budget and hopes to make cuts, Tomaro said.

The council is trying to make these cuts without cutting any services to the people, Kruczak said.

The Board of Education budget, in which the council has no say, has steadily been growing and represents the majority of the property tax in the township, he said. "We get blamed for" the Board of Education’s tax increases, Kruczak said.

The council has tried to bring ratable into the town, where appropriate, to off set some of the tax burden on the residents, he added.

The council has also entered into interlocal service agreements with other towns to either bring in money or save money on services, Barnes said. For instance, Edison’s first aid and emergency response teams respond to emergencies in Metuchen for a $100 fee paid by the borough to Edison.

The Democratic candidates all say the people should have their say on the ward issue in the voting booth on Nov. 4.

The two questions on the ballot would establish a five ward system if the residents vote yes.

A ward system would change the way council people are voted into office in the future.

Five council people would be ward council people: they would have to come from a certain area of town.

There would then be four at-large council people representing the entire township.