2 Democrats seek seats on all-GOP committee


Staff Writer

PLUMSTED — Last year’s Democratic candidates are back for another run at breaking the Republican stronghold on the Township Committee.

This time, Democrats Mitch Geier and Donald Knause are challenging GOP incumbents Ken Francis and Ada Roberts.

Geier, 49, is a microcomputer consultant who runs his own company.

Knause, 69, is a retired state investigator. He has lived in town 36 years and served on the committee from 1986-1989.

Geier, who moved to Plumsted from Old Bridge almost 10 years ago, joined Knause in co-founding the township’s first established Democratic Party about two years ago.

Knause serves as president of the fledgling Plumsted Democratic Party and Geier is vice president.

If both are elected, Geier said their first job would be to stabilize taxes by exercising fiscal responsibility when it comes to spending.

Also, he said they would turn their focus to the issue of public safety.

Geier, who lives on Hawkin Road in the easternmost portion of Plumsted, said the location of the only firehouse across town makes a timely response to his are of the municipality an impossibility.

Geier said the firehouse needs to be moved to a more central location or a substation needs to be built in the eastern section of the township.

He charged that Francis has failed to do what is necessary to attract the proper commercial ratables to the township.

Geier said this is demonstrated by the fact that although Francis serves as chairman of the Plumsted Municipal Utilities Authority he has failed to oversee the installation of sewer lines along Main Street.

“There’s been a real problem with attracting commercial ratables to town,” Geier said. “If you revitalize downtown maybe you can generate more in tax revenues.”

According to Geier, “A more focused vision is needed to offset the tax burden paid by residential taxpayers.”

Geier said he also questions the present Republican majority’s plan to rezone a light-industrial commercial area on Route 537 to residential. He said the rezoning is being proposed in order to accommodate a 400-unit age-restricted housing development.

“I have a problem with changing commercial zoning to residential zoning,”

Geier said.

Geier said he is not opposed to the age-restricted community per se, but maintains that it should be built in an area already zoned for that use so that the people who end up living there are ensured of the quality of life they moved there to enjoy.

Also, Geier said he will fight to make the township’s files as well as its boards and commissions more accessible to residents.

Geier said he attempted to sit in on a meeting of the township’s Landlord Tenant Committee but was denied entry and told the meeting was not open to the public.

“Our local government wants to hide their actions as much as they can,” he said.

Another case in point, says Geier, is the township’s Main Street Organization (MSO). Geier claims that the Township Committee is using the MSO to circumvent the state’s Sunshine Law when it comes to town planning. He alleges that “back-room deals” are being made by way of the MSO.

According to Geier, who said he is initiating litigation against the MSO, the organization is comprised of individuals appointed by the mayor and committee who push through projects and proposals the governing body wants approved.

“Decisions are made behind closed doors and then voted on in public,” Geier said.

Geier said that if he and Knause are elected, they will make it their mission to keep the government accountable and open in every aspect.

Knause cold not be reached for comment.