Three seek mayor’s post in Jackson election

Reina, Kafton, Bressi make bid for 4-year term in May 11 vote


Three men are seeking a four-year term as Jackson’s mayor in the May 11 municipal election. All three candidates are currently serving in the municipal government.

Ken Bressi Ken Bressi Mike Reina is Jackson’s mayor, Mike Kafton is the president of the Jackson Township Council, and Ken Bressi is a member of the Jackson Township Council.

The May 11 municipal election is a nonpartisan election, and candidates do not run under the banner of a political party, although some of the candidates have received the endorsement of local political clubs.

The winner of the May 11 election will take office as Jackson’s mayor in July.

The Township Council establishes the salary range for Jackson’s mayor. The current salary range is $8,500 to $54,000. The mayor is currently paid $29,000.

There is no set number of hours that the person who holds the position of mayor must work during the course of the week.

Mike Kafton Mike Kafton All three candidates were given an opportunity by the Tri-Town News to make their case to residents by stating why they want to serve as Jackson’s mayor for the next four years.

Ken Bressi, 62, has lived in Jackson for 38 years. He has been employed as a facility manager at St. Veronica Church and St. Veronica School, Howell, for 15 years.

“Throughout my many years of public service, I have established myself as a leader in the fight to stabilize taxes and to control overdevelopment. As the population of Jackson has grown over the last several years, so, too, have the daily concerns and issues that must be addressed,” he said.

Bressi said he believes it has become apparent that Jackson needs a full-time mayor and said “if I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will serve as a full-time mayor at the current part-time salary. My only employment will be to serve the residents of Jackson, and I am the only mayoral candidate to make that commitment.”

Mike Reina Mike Reina The candidate said it is vital that officials prioritize their goals with the economy in flux, identify the town’s needs from its wants, and spend on essentials only.

“While only spending on essentials, we must still focus on the safety of our roads, ensuring the effectiveness of our volunteer services, civic groups and caring for our seniors and youth.

“I will strive to implement our new master plan, which allows for a 69 percent increase in the amount of commercial ratables compared to our previous plan,” said Bressi. “This increase could stabilize the residential tax base and potentially offset residential tax rates.”

Bressi said he wants to hear the voice of the residents.

“They want common sense back in government,” he said. “They want government to stop spending what we do not have. They want to see the wasteful spending of hard-earned tax dollars on non-essentials stopped. I will work for all of the residents of Jackson, not special interest groups or political party bosses. As a full-time mayor, this is what I will bring to Jackson.”

Michael Kafton, 45, has been a lifelong resident of Jackson. He is a licensed real estate broker, the owner of a title company and a coowner of the White Butterfly gift shop. All of his businesses are in Jackson.

Kafton said it is up to the mayor to provide services to residents while keeping taxes down.

“I am the only mayoral candidate who has done both,” he said. “As a former mayor [under Jackson’s previous Township Committee form of

government] and elected official, I have been part of a team that cut and stabilized the tax rate from 2001 to 2005.”

Kafton said he has helped to preserve hundreds of acres of open space while slowing down the pace of development.

“I was responsible for bringing in the town’s first park-and-ride [lot], providing bus service to New York City,” he said.

He said Jackson is a beautiful, rural community and said preserving the environment is extremely important.

“That is why I am so proud to have been endorsed by the Sierra Club of Ocean County for the second year in a row for my dedication to protecting our environment, most notably the creation of the most aggressive tree saving ordinance in the entire state,” he said.

Kafton sad he is also proud of his work on behalf of Jackson’s young people.

“I have introduced the skate park and the roller hockey rink, created new ball fields for girls softball, helped expand Pop Warner [football] and found a home for Jackson soccer … also created the Mayor’s Safe Trick or Treat, Movies in the Park, and I was fundraising cochairman for the Jackson Jungle [playground],” he said.

“I am continuing my commitment to save taxpayers money by creating the Economic Development Council, whose purpose is to seek out good, clean commercial ratables, including restaurants, Kafton said.

He said he has also introduced the use of solar panels on Jackson’s schools and municipal buildings in an effort to cut electric costs.

“We can, and must, do better,” Kafton said. “If elected, we will do exactly as we have done before, cutting taxes and providing the highest level of services that residents deserve. You can trust me, not because I say so, but because I’ve done so.”

Michael Reina, 51, has been a resident of Jackson for 23 years. He is employed at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, serving in nuclear security.

Reina has served as Jackson’s mayor for the past 18 months and won a special election in November to complete the term from January through June 2010.

“I believe that service as an elected official means selflessly representing every member of your community,” said Reina. “As mayor, I have opened government, cut spending, stabilized taxes, fostered economic development and have been responsive to every segment of every community, including our businesses, schools and not-for-profits.”

Reina said there is no greater concern for Jackson residents than their property taxes. He said controlling those taxes is his top priority.

“As mayor, I have proved that actions speak louder than campaign promises,” said Reina. ”Last year, while facing a loss of state aid, I cut nearly $1 million in township spending, which has not happened in Jackson as far as I can remember, and did so without cutting services. This year we will be forced to do more with less again.

“I am not afraid to make the difficult decisions that lie ahead, but I believe we can keep taxes under control again this year without using one-shot fiscal gimmicks that were available in the past,” he said.

Reina said he understands that residents expect results, not excuses.

“I will continue to fight unfunded state mandates like [affordable housing mandates], go after more state and federal grants, improve shared services from within and outside of the township, and pursue commercial ratables that will increase our tax revenues,” he said.

“Whether it is responding to the needs of our senior communities, getting needed road safety improvements completed, expanding recreational opportunities for our children, promoting Jackson as a place to bring business, or even help plowing the streets during snowfalls, you can count on me being at the front lines.

“I have demonstrated that being mayor means more than wearing the title on your chest,” Reina said. “If re-elected, I will continue to place Jackson on the right path and I will provide honest answers without making false promises, while maintaining the high quality of life that we all deserve for our families.”