Residents question county candidates in Mansfield forum

By Stephanie Prokop, Staff Writer
MANSFIELD — Candidates for Burlington County clerk and freeholder addressed concerns from Mansfield residents at the Four Seasons in Mapleton clubhouse Tuesday night, fielding questions on topics ranging from transportation and senior busing to clean energy and getting New York television channels.
    Republican incumbents Aubrey Fenton and Stacey Jordan, and Democrats Chris Brown and Mary Ann Reinhart are vying for two three-year freeholder seats in the Nov. 4 election. In the race for county clerk, Republican Gary Woodend will face Democrat Tim Tyler, who is currently a member of the Fieldsboro Borough Council.
    The forum, moderated by Four Seasons resident Myra Dickert, saw all six candidates introduce themselves, describe their political platforms and then forge right ahead into the question-and-answer session of the forum.
    Several residents became emotional when asking the candidates about the status of the closed sewer treatment plant at the county landfill located on the border of Mansfield and Florence townships, near Interstate 295.
    “We’re just tired of the rhetoric; this sewerage facility was promised to the community years ago, and opening that sewerage plant would create jobs and (infrastructure),” said Four Seasons resident Bob Franchino.
    “We just want to know the status report on the plant and what has happened to it,” said Ms. Dickert.
    The plant was shut down in 1997 when the county began transporting the runoff caused by the landfill, called leachate.
    Mr. Fenton said the county is “moving forward on it,” and that that it is “important for other projects that are dependent on sewer systems.”
    Mr. Brown and Ms. Reinhart disagreed with that prognosis, and encouraged “action to be taken” as soon as possible on letting residents know what is going on with the plant.
    Transportation also was on residents’ minds. Rudy Ocello, president of the Four Seasons board of trustees, asked why there isn’t more public transportation available to seniors living in the area.
    “There should be a bus that comes down to the Four Seasons and services the Route 206 corridor,” he said.
    Mr. Brown acknowledged that “this is something we need to address. We have a lot of sprawl happening.”
    He also touted the NJ Transit River LINE light rail train as an example of future transportation trends.
    Mr. Fenton said the county is working on a “reform on travel,” in which every resident will be given a survey to adequately get a view of his or her travel needs.
    This way, he said, the “goal is efficiency; we’ll look at where do we need to go, and where do we want to go.”
    Bringing New York TV channels to the area is something that a lot of residents strongly agreed they want. New York channels are not available on area cable systems although they sometimes can be picked up by antenna.
    Candidates of both parties agreed that the best way to bring this to fruition is to get the Township Committee to draft a resolution urging the township’s cable TV provider to add the channels to its lineup.