Seven candidates pursue three Old Bridge council seats

Election 2015

Staff Writer

OLD BRIDGE — Seven candidates are vying for three at-large seats on the Township Council on Nov. 3.

Republican Anita Greenberg-Belli, has lived in Old Bridge for 21 years and is seeking her first term on council.

She has a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a doctorate in veterinary medicine. She is a veterinarian and partner with her husband at the East Brunswick Animal Hospital.

Greenberg-Belli, who served as the Old Bridge Republican municipal chairwoman for eight years, said she has served in the community for more than 20 years on various boards and committees.

Currently, she is a commissioner on the Old Bridge Municipal Authority, is a member of the Madison Township Historical Society, is a member of the Middlesex County Republican Women’s Club and is on the Board of Governors for the New Jersey Federation of Republican Women.

She previously served on the planning board, the Economic Development Corporation, the PTA and volunteered with the Sayrewoods South Little League.

“I have been asked to run for office for more than 10 years, but due to work and family commitments I was not able,” she said. “I am now able to devote even more time to Old Bridge, helping it to continue to move in a positive a direction.”

If elected, she said she would assist in maintaining and improving the township’s current solvent financial position and ensure that necessary services would continue to be provided.

“As a successful business owner, I believe my years of experience and particular skill set will be an asset to the town council as I am adept at prioritizing issues, identifying and solving problems and working efficiently in critical situations.

“My proposed initiatives would be to streamline the Code Enforcement Department, provide the tools the animal shelter needs to keep it a ‘no kill’ shelter and implement the ‘Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release’ initiative,” she said.

Republican Incumbent Brian Cahill, a senior telecommunications director who has lived in Old Bridge for 21 years, is seeking his third term.

During his tenure on council, Cahill served as council president for two years and as council liaison for both the recreation and ethics boards. He was appointed as an alternate commissioner to the Old Bridge Municipal Utilities Authority and spent six years as an executive board member with the Cheesequake Baseball Association.

Cahill said he is running for re-election to the Township Council because he believes in Henry’s vision for Old Bridge.

“I want to help him continue all the great work he has accomplished so far,” he said. “He took a town that was mired in debt and lacked crucial services for our residents, and has turned it around in 3 1/2 short years.”

Cahill noted that the municipal tax rate is stable this year, with no increase.

“[The mayor] has worked very hard to employ sound business practices to improve services to our residents,” he said. “My goal is to help him continue his vision for Old Bridge.”

Cahill said one of his goals would be to stabilize taxes for the residents of Old Bridge.

“Let’s face it: The economy is not working for most hard-working families,” he said. “I feel it is our responsibility as elected officials to provide the most value to our residents for their precious tax dollars.”

Kyler L. Dinnen, running on the Lower Property Taxes line, is seeking his first term on council.

Dineen is the founder/executive director of Land for the Homeless, which is a nonprofit set up to purchase a plot of private land for New Jersey’s homeless to live on while the shelters are full. In addition, he runs a small digital marketing firm he started called Melodic Marketing.

Dineen is a student at Middlesex County College with a focus on small business management/ entrepreneurship.

The newcomer said he decided to run because he was upset with the very high property taxes that his family and other hard-working families are forced to pay.

“Given that Old Bridge garnered a $4.5 million budget surplus last year after all expenses were paid, I think that money should be returned to our town’s property taxpayers, both families and small businesses alike,” he said.

In addition, Dineen said he would like to use some of the surplus money to increase infrastructure repair and deliver tax credits to Old Bridge families to help subsidize their cost of garbage pickup.

Democrat Thomas Galante, who is seeking his first term on council, has lived in the township for 49 years. He is a graduate of Madison Central High School (which merged with Cedar Ridge High to become presentday Old Bridge High) and earned certificates in inspection and building codes from Middlesex County College.

He is president of T. Galante Properties Inc. He formerly was the building inspector for three towns in Middlesex County.

Galante previously served as chairman of the Old Bridge Municipal Utilities Authority and served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. He also volunteers his time with the Sayrewoods South Little League and is the former athletic director of the Old Bridge Knights Pop Warner Football League.

Galante said he is seeking his first term on council to become more directly involved in the community he calls home.

“I want to be hands-on, using my experience as a businessman and owner of a successful construction company to bring new business and economic development to the township,” he said.

If elected, Galante said his focus would be on economic development.

“I think the lack of a coordinated strategy to attract new business to Old Bridge not only hurts every resident by driving up taxes because there are fewer businesses contributing to the tax base, but it also weakens the township’s status as a growing, vibrant community,” he said. “You can drive down any major road in Old Bridge and see empty storefronts. This deficiency means there are fewer options for residents to choose from and, as a result, their money is spent elsewhere.”

Democrat Jack Gillick, an attorney who has lived in Old Bridge for 39 years, is seeking his first term on the council.

He received a teaching degree from William Paterson University and a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall University.

He is an assistant Girl Scout troop leader and the legal counsel to the Monmouth Council of Boy Scouts. He also sits on the board of the New Jersey Bar Foundation and runs a holiday toy drive for the Division of Youth & Family Services on behalf of the Middlesex County Bar Foundation.

Gillick said he is running for a seat to bring his experience to township government.

“[I] wish to use the experience I have gained as an attorney defending municipalities to ensure that we minimize spending while maximizing services,” he said. “It’s important that Old Bridge is enjoyed by all residents for many, many years to come. The decisions I will make as councilman will ensure the future is secure for those who follow.”

Gillick said if elected, the area that the council should focus on is public safety.

“One of the first things the current council did four years ago was fire 10 police officers,” he said. “Despite what the council claims, that move actually cost Old Bridge taxpayers money and put us at risk. We now have fewer officers on the job and, as a result have seen a spike in bank robberies, home invasions and break-ins in the township.

“Voters can trust me because I have no vested interest in serving, only the desire to help the community in which I was raised and, with my beautiful wife, am proud to be able to raise my children,” he said.

Democrat Deborah Marquez has lived in the township for 24 years and is seeking her first term on the council. She is an electronic health records administrator and horse trainer.

Marquez studied history at Illinois Central Community College and political science at Brookdale Community College.

Marquez has served on the Old Bridge environmental and open space committees and is a member of the volunteer Old Bridge Community Emergency Response Team.

“I want to make sure the next generation enjoys the benefits of living in this wonderful community, starting with preserving our open space,” she said. “I understand we must grow, but we need to do so responsibly. The current administration, in my view, has failed the residents of Old Bridge with poor decisions and selected priorities that are out of step with what residents tell me.

Marquez said she also feels the current administration has failed the young adults of Old Bridge, who are faced with being priced out of living in the community they call home.

If elected, Marquez said she would like to play a more active role in preserving the environment and finding a happy balance between the need to grow and the need to preserve open space for future generations.

“Along those lines, I would focus on helping to fill vacant available commercial property in Old Bridge to benefit my fellow citizens,” she said. “That starts with finding tenants for the growing number of empty buildings and storefronts in the township so that residents have easy access to the necessities they need on a daily basis.”

Republican Incumbent Eleanor “Debbie” Walker, who is seeking her second term on the council, has lived in Old Bridge for 27 years. She is employed by the Monroe Board of Education in the transportation department.

She has been involved in the community, including parent teacher associations, the Cheesequake Ladies Auxiliary, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, the township planning board and the historical society.

Walker said she, along with the mayor, his administration and her fellow council members, have been successful in improving the fiscal stability of the township.

“Our budget has been reduced by $3.4 million since we have taken office, while services have improved,” she said. “I would like to continue to steer the township in this positive direction.”

If re-elected, Walker said she would continue to be fiscally responsible, stabilize taxes and maintain public safety.