Reina, Spedding bid for Jackson mayor

Staff Writer

Michael Reina, who has served as Jackson’s mayor since 2010, is seeking to fend off a challenge from William Spedding in the race for the municipality’s top elected position.

Voters will select a mayor in the Nov. 4 election. The winner will serve a four-year term.

Jackson has a nonpartisan form of government and candidates do not run under the banner of a political party.

Reina, 56, was elected to the Township Council in 2008. While serving on the council, he was appointed mayor following the resignation of Mark Seda from that position.

In a special election in November 2009, Reina was elected to serve the remainder of Seda’s mayoral term. In 2010, Reina was elected to serve a four-year term as mayor. He is now completing that four-year term.

Spedding, 72, is making his first bid for the mayor’s position. He is running on the Jackson Deserves Better ticket with council candidates Nathan Grosshandler and Denise Garner. Reina and Spedding were asked the following questions:

What is your occupation? How would your career translate into being an effective mayor?

Reina: I am currently employed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation in the Office of Emergency Management unit. There, I serve as the continuity of operations planner for the agency. While this position requires extensive planning and logistical ability, the skills to properly manage Jackson also come from hands-on experience.

Since 1988, I have served on the following committees, boards, positions and organizations: eight years on the Board of Directors for Sixty Acre Reserve, Neighborhood Watch Group, eight years on the Private Residential Communities Advisory Board, Jackson Food Pantry.

Also, six years on the Jackson Planning Board (two as chairman), five years on the Jackson Office of Emergency Management, the Cassville Volunteer Fire Company, Special Police Officer for the Jackson Police Department, Township Council, and of course as mayor. Spedding: I have 10 years of management experience in municipal government as the lead budget analyst and director of a 600-employee public works department for Jersey City, as well as in Rockaway Township. As a result of this experience, I know how to delegate effectively, work with the council and interact with community leaders.

What would you say is the most pressing issue currently facing Jackson? If elected, how would you address that issue?

Reina: First and foremost, the most pressing issue for me has always been the safety and health of residents, but we must always be aware of the tax burden carried by each and every one of us so that the services required remain in effect. Since I first came to the Township Council in 2008, I have called for everyone in our government to address the imbalance in our tax base, which is predominantly residential, by bringing in smart commercial development with the hopes of moving that burden from the residential side to the commercial component here in Jackson.

Like all other municipalities, we have gone through a challenging economic climate. Since I have been in office, debt has been reduced by over $10 million and our budgetshaveaverageda1percentincrease each year.

As one looks around, new centers have opened … as have charter schools and other educational and fitness enterprises that are open and operating. We are in the preliminary stages of establishing a long-awaited hotel near Six Flags Great Adventure, turning Jackson into a multi-day destination for tourism.

With this in motion, our plan for bringing in commercial ratables from nearby towns and establishing relationships with new ones looking for a home is becoming a reality. This growth means revenue for the town and jobs for our residents, and with goods and services close by, residents will see a saving in time and fuel costs.

Spedding: Lack of leadership by Mayor Reina is the greatest problem facing Jackson. This is most clearly brought home by his refusal to take any action to preserve the character of neighborhoods by controlling the location of private schools.

Mayor Reina is part of the same political alliance as (three municipal officials) who control Lakewood. He dares not break loose from the leader of that alliance, (attorney) George Gilmore. To do so puts (the mayor’s) $78,000 (state) patronage job at risk.

Taxes paid for Jackson’s municipal government would not have increased 27 percent in the six years he has been mayor if he was an effective leader. I saw the lack of planning and control as a member of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee for five years.

I will take control of the workforce by setting goals and requiring timely progress. Stopping the flagrant, wasteful spending immediately is a must. Likewise, improved services from leaf pickup to code enforcement will naturally follow.

Leaders seek expert advice to put together a comprehensive approach to issues like the location of private schools. It will be my top priority because I recognize this is the single biggest issue facing Jackson in the years to come. Part of leadership is avoiding conflicts of interest.