MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — Tim Donohue, Republican incumbent running for re-election to Township Committee, said recently that he would pursue a 10 step plan to build on recreational opportunities in Middle Township if voters choose him for another term.
So far, Donohue has served six years on committee: two as mayor, two as deputy mayor, and two as a committeeman. If re-elected, he would serve another three years on committee.
Donohue, in the minority as the lone Republican, serves on committee with Democrats Mayor Mike Clark, and Committeeman Jeff DeVico.
Donohue said he got involved with local politics because of the actions of his brother, Mike Donohue.
“My brother became county chair in 2010, as part of the popular uprising when then Chairman David Von Savage removed Jerry Thornton from the Republican line,” Donohue said. “My brother lead the movement that resulted in Thornton and Sue Sheppard defeating the official candidates in the 2010 primary.”
Donohue said the victory lead to the resignation of Von Savage and installation of Mike Donohue as leader.
“This started a sea change in the party towards openness and fairness and away from control by a few party bosses and special interests,” he said. “This was a fight I found worth fighting and lead to my entrance into politics.” A year later, Donohue ran for Township Committee, and was elected in 2011.
Last week, Donohue visited The Gazette office to talk about his plans for the township in the coming years. “I want to build on the record that I have,” he said. “I’ve kept my promise to keep taxes low, and for five years, we did that.”
Donohue said that for five years, committee members introduced a zero-increase budget and that he supported that each year. In 2017, however, a budget increase was proposed and passed, a measure Donohue did not support.
The committeeman has said several times over the years that at some point, a tax increase was unavoidable. He reiterated that view on Thursday, Oct. 12.
“I know we can’t go on forever without raising taxes,” Donohue said. “For five years we held it. But the sixth year, I voted against the increase. It was too high.”
In April, the committee split along party lines in its approval of the $21 million 2017 budget. As approved, the local tax rate increased from 45.5 cents to 47.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, a 2 percent increase.
“What the increase represented was a retroactive tax increase,” Donohue said. “There was no way I was going to vote for that.”
Yet, politics at the local level are much different than national politics, Donohue said. For the most part, Democrats and Republicans agree or disagree as a group, as the measures, rules, laws or ordinances are seen by both parties as good or necessary for the township.
“We don’t deal with the national level stuff like abortion or gay marriage,” Donohue said. “As a committee, we try to do good stuff for the township. Ninety percent of time we agree,” he said. “But there are times when we don’t.”
In his platform for reelection, Donohue has promised a 10 step approach to revamping the township’s recreational opportunities.
His ideas include upgrading or expanding existing recreation venues, or building partnerships with other agencies or governmental entities to create new
Donohue said he’d like to take advantage of low interesting rates to borrow money to upgrade facilities in Goshen, Whitesboro and Rio Grande, to include expanding fields to add practice space for football, lacrosse and wrestling programs.
He also wants to see the township’s bike path expanded, tying in with the county plan that would see a bike path traversing the entire county. Middle Township has gotten approval for county funds to expand the bike path north to connect with Dennis Township, and Donohue would like see spurs off of that path to tie into campgrounds and neighborhoods.
Other points to Donohue’s plan include an addition to the Martin Luther King Community Center in Whitesboro, petitioning the county for a library branch in Rio Grande, and pushing forward on a refurbishment of a park and recreation facility on Railroad Avenue in Rio Grande.
A unique part of the recreation plan calls for Middle Township to partner with Lower Township to develop an aquatic center at the Cape May County Airport in Villas. In his proposal, Donohue said that Middle Township could pay a portion of the operating costs in exchange for discounted memberships for township residents and area swim teams.
“This innovative approach would give us access to a state of the art swim facility, without expending a huge amount of capital for design and construction,” he said.
Donohue would also like to see an expansion of nature trails, birding towers, kayak drops and improved fishing piers – amenities that would appeal to residents and visitors alike by giving them new avenues to enjoy the township’s beaches, bays and waterways.
“After six years, I’m proud of all of the work that we’ve done as a community,” Donohue said. “Middle Township will go on with or without me, but I believe I’ve helped make Middle Township a better place to live.
“If the people will have me, I’d love to serve, and I will do my best to represent the people as a minority member of the committee.”
In addition to his duties as Township Committeeman, Donohue works for Cape May County as the division director of the Roads Department. He is married, and Donohue and his wife, Carole, have two children, Tyler and Juliana, as well as three cats.