MONROE: 2 incumbents, 2 challengers face off in Fire District 1

By David Kilby, Staff Writer
   MONROE — Voters will choose candidates for the two available seats on the Fire District 1 Board of Commissioners on Feb. 19 from 2 to 9 p.m. at the firehouse on Harrison Street.
   District 1 serves 14 square miles in the north portion of Monroe and is serviced by 60 volunteers.
   The incumbents running for a seat on the board are Ray Perry and Charles Dipierro, currently chairman of the board. Timothy Eosso and Anthony Malanga also are competing for the two open seats.
   The winners will serve for three years.
   Mr. Dipierro, 50, has lived in Monroe his entire life. He lives on Spotswood-Gravel-Hill Road with his wife, Beth, and has one son and one daughter who are in college.
   He runs two local businesses: Brothers Paving and Excavating and NJ Realty LLC.
   He has been a commissioner for six years.
   ”My main objective is to keep taxes low and maximize fire prevention and fire safety for Monroe Township,” he said. “As a lifetime resident I’ve seen the town grow over the past 50 years. I’ve seen the community grow in good times and in bad times. Being a business owner, I feel I am an asset to fire commissioners and the taxpayers in Monroe Township.”
   He said District 1 rises to all occasions whether it’s a fire a nearby town needs help putting out or a parade or a 9/11 memorial.
   ”The programs and dedication in District 1 is second to none. These guys give 110 percent,” he said.
   Mr. Perry has lived in Monroe for 50 years. He lives on 13th Street and has two sons and one daughter. He has been commissioner for nine years.
   He is a project manager for Custom Homes, a member of the Elks Lodge and a past president of Blue Knights Law Enforcement and works in the county sheriff’s office.
   He said the Board of Commissioners has been focusing on keeping fire tax rates down and has succeeded by lowering them from 14 to 11 cents.
   Mr. Eosso and Mr. Malanga are running a joint campaign for the two open seats on the board.
   Mr. Malanga, 39, has lived in Monroe for 35 years and has two sons. He lives on Fernhead Avenue and is the supervisor of all four emergency medical service stations in Monroe.
   He said he knows “basically the logistics of the town, how it runs, what it’s like to have two sons in town.”
   He said he also knows the importance of having paid firemen on staff and believes District 1 is making a mistake in having no career firemen at the station.
   ”This is one of those things the community doesn’t see a need for until it’s too late,” he said.
   He said residents are looking for the kind of security a paid department would provide.
   Mr. Eosso shared many of the same concerns, especially regarding the absence of career firefighters in the district.
   ”What’s paramount is the safety of the residents in District 1 and all of Monroe,” Mr. Eosso said. “I’m deeply concerned with staffing during the day hours. We have no career men there during the day. We’re the only district (in Monroe) with no career men at the station day or night. Two men, one with 10 years of experience and one with 12, were let go. Both had families.”
   He said there are better ways the district can lower the budget.
   ”For pennies, we can rehire those who were let go,” he said.
   Mr. Eosso, 40, lives on Allison Court with his wife, Linda. He has one son and one daughter, and has lived in Monroe for six years.
   Mr. Eosso is a career fireman for the Edison Fire Department and has 20 years of experience in fire fighting and emergency medical services.
   He’s been a division director of the Monroe Township Baseball Association for five years.
   ”Shift of change is always needed in a growing community like Monroe,” he said.
   ”Residents work from nine to five,” he said, adding he’s responded to calls where residents had left their stove on, for example, after leaving for work.
   ”By not having firemen during the day you’re rolling the dice,” he said.