GOP will try to take control in Lakewood

By Joyce Blay
Staff Writer

GOP will try to take control in Lakewood
By Joyce Blay
Staff Writer

LAKEWOOD – For the second straight year, Republican candidates Hannah Havens and Menashe Miller will try to wrest control of the Township Committee from the Democratic Party.

Only one Republican, Robert W. Singer, sits on the five-member committee at the present time. If Havens and Miller are both winners on Nov. 4, the GOP will take control of the governing body, 3-2.

Democratic Township Committeewoman Marta Harrison, who is serving as Lakewood’s mayor in 2003, is not seeking re-election to a three-year term.

Democrat Meir Lichtenstein, a first-time candidate, and two-term Democratic incumbent Mitch Dolobowsky will face Havens and Miller.

Havens, 55, is a program development coordinator for the New Jersey Prevention Network, Lakewood, which oversees government substance abuse agencies in all of the state’s 21 counties.

A certified social worker and a past director of welfare for the township, Havens was born in Lakewood. She said her family can trace its roots here back 85 years.

She is married to Sherwood Stotz, a retired social worker. They have a son, George, 26.

Havens said she still believes she is better qualified to serve on the committee than either of her Democratic opponents.

“The issues are different this year than they were last year, but I’m the same person,” she said. “Unfortunately, this committee has been more reactive, sticking Band-Aids on problems instead of being proactive and having a plan.”

She accused the Democrat-controlled committee of being anything but fiscally responsible.

“The township is paying close to $2 million a year for engineering and for legal services from Steven Secare (the township attorney),” Havens said. “I’m not just implying they spend a lot on his services – they spend more on his than on their other legal counsel.”

Her solution is to hold public forums in which municipal department heads would address residents on budgetary items.

“I’m for giving the government back to the people who pay for it,” Havens said. “Respect for the people in the community comes from the top down.”

Dolobowsky, 51, is serving as deputy mayor this year. He has already served two terms on the Lakewood governing body.

He is married to Robin, his wife of 29 years. They have two grown children, Irwin, 24, and Mindy, 22.

Dolobowsky describes himself as semi-retired following the sale of Inorganic Ventures, a company he co-founded, to his partner. He said he would be taking time off in order to devote more time to public service, an endeavor to which he said he and his fellow committee members have all devoted a substantial portion of their time.

“This is very much a team; we have done a lot, and I have certainly helped to achieve (our) various goals,” Dolobowsky said. “No. 1 one on the list is control of the municipal tax portion residents (pay to) Lakewood. We have worked very hard to see that all services are maintained, (while controlling) spending. That has shown in the tax rate, which has gone down seven years in a row.”

Dolobowsky cited the committee’s record of preserving Lakewood’s open spaces through preservation of 150 acres of land on Shorrock Street, as well as a strip of land on the eastern side of that street. He also said the committee had worked to increase the size of Crystal Lake preserve.

In addition, said Dolobowsky, it had cooperated with public works head John Franklin to add and refurbish the town’s recreational facilities.

Dolobowsky asserted that as a committeeman, he has helped to attract new businesses to Lakewood, even while his efforts have contributed to maintaining its quality of life.

“As a committee person, I sit on many different committees, including the Planning Board and the Chamber of Commerce,” Dolobowsky said. “I’m very proud of what we’re doing to attract new businesses. The Lakewood Township Airport Authority (LTAA), Cedar Bridge Development Corp. and, of course, the baseball stadium, which are all important anchors or magnets to attract new businesses to Lakewood.”

When asked how he would divide his time between his work on the committee and the demands of being a state assemblyman should he be elected to both positions (he is also running for a seat in the 30th District), Dolobowsky said that would depend on his schedule and other factors, such as the commute to Trenton. However, he maintained that he was committed to improving the lives of the people in Lakewood.

“I’m hoping that the people of Lakewood will give me (another) opportunity to serve them,” Dolobowsky said. “My real love is Lakewood, this is my home, so I will only do what is best for this town.”

Miller, 29, was born in Lakewood. He is married to Yocheved, 26. They have three children, Esther, 5, Hindy, 3, and Sarah, 1.

A talmudical professor at a rabbinical college in Lakewood, Miller is also the chaplain at McGuire Air Force Base in New Egypt. He is a member of the Lakewood Township Airport Authority.

He was the overwhelming write-in favorite in the 2002 primary. Despite his popularity, he and Havens lost by a wide margin last year to Democratic incumbents Ray Coles and Charles Cunliffe. He predicts that this time, the result will be different. “This year I am a Republican-sanctioned candidate from the get-go,” Miller said. “That makes all the difference in the world.”

Miller said that first and foremost on his list of campaign issues is the use of property taxes to fund public school education. He said he would work to reduce property taxes by using surplus funds to lower the tax rate. He also said that safety concerns would be resolved through the construction of more sidewalks in residential, metropolitan areas of Lakewood.

Lichtenstein, 32, could not be reached for comment.