2 committee seats up for election in Hamilton

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HAMILITON TOWNSHIP – Change is in the air in a community where Township Committee has created a vision for its future and made efforts to become more transparent and reduce its debt in recent years.

Four candidates have responded to the challenge created when Deputy Mayor Charles Cain and Committeeman Harvey Kesselmen each decided not to seek re-election to the at-large governing body.

Republican candidates David Wigglesworth and Bruce Stigh are facing Democratic Party candidates Rodney Guishard and Judy Link to earn a place on the five-member Township Committee. Each seat carries a three-year term.

The Current asked each candidate to provide biographical information and answer a few questions.

 

Rodney Guishard

Democrat

Guishard, 68, has lived in the township 32 years. He and his wife, Helen, have five children, Christopher, Nicole, Carissa, Corina and Rodney Jr.

Guishard has a master of science in engineering and retired from the FAA.

He is a licensed commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings, has his real estate license, and is a Vietnam veteran who received the Air Force Commendation Award, and numerous performance and special achievement awards.

He is the current local chapter president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees, a past president of the National Technical Association, a current National Society of Black Engineers officer and past president of Toastmasters, etc.

He is a past chair of the Quality of Life Committee of the Township's Strategic Planning initiative, was on the Hamilton Township school board for six years, including three as president, and was on the Hamilton Township Education Fund for three years.

Guishardsaid he has considerable training and experience in working with people of all types in large and small group environments to solve problems and would like to use that experience to serve the community.

“I have lived in several communities where I observed and experienced what works and what doesn't. I would like to help bring some of the positive characteristics to the township,” he said.

Guishard said democracy and communities work best when residents are actively involved.

“I would like to increase community involvement by seeking to broaden the base of actively involved neighborhoods and groups.”

If he were already in office, he would have acknowledged and acted upon the township's overspending earlier and thereby avoided some of the drastic actions that were taken in early 2011.

“I would have avoided a precipitous termination of senior citizen services and would have provided assistance to them in adjusting to and accommodating any service reductions,” he said.

“I would seek better approaches to accommodating the recreational field requirements of our Township's kids and reducing the increased cost to parents with kids involved in sports.”

He said that if elected, he would maintain fiscal discipline and avoid decisions that result in short- or long-term liabilities, and continue to improve upon township government openness and accessibility.

“I look forward to the opportunity to improve the quality of life within the township by bringing new approaches and ideas to the community and by utilizing the vast resident talent pool that exists among our community residents,” he said.

 

David Wigglesworth

Republican

Wigglesworth, 47, grew up in Hamilton Township, went through the school system and has resided here for 43 years. He and his wife, Mary, have a son, David, 15.

A graduate of the Oakcrest High School Class of 1984, he is a journeyman wireman and a 27-year member of IBEW Local 351.

“My greatest accomplishment is, by far, my family and I am blessed every day to have their love and support,” he said.

He has attended continuing education classes such as instrumentation and calibration, first aid and CPR, OSHA courses and other industry-related studies, achieving senior tech status in copper and fiber optic networking.

He has been a member of the township Planning Board for five years and chairman for the past three.

Wigglesworth is a member of St. Vincent de Paul Church and a third degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

He said he seeks to continue the policies of open and honest government because transparency to the public is fundamental to the future success of the town.

Wigglesworth said he wants to be a public advocate in his community providing a personal link between himself and the municipal government, and to apply his common sense approach in community service.

“If I was in office in the previous administration, I would not have approved the budgets that put the current administration in charge of a multimillion dollar deficit,” he said. I also would not agree to take grants that had stipulations that the township could not afford long term.”

He said he would like to continue the "pay-as-you-go" policy to reduce debt and stabilize tax rates, and to continue duality and cross training of employees, including code enforcement officials capable of providing multiple inspections in one visit.

Wigglesworth said he would continue and enhance the "open and honest" policies made possible by having Channel 2 providing a televised, unabridged committee meetings and a full service website.

He said residents have told him that they want truthful and transparent communication, government they can access, and responsible people who will keep tax rates stable and spending in control, and he believes his experience will provide those qualities.

 

Bruce A. Strigh

Republican

Strigh, 58, has lived in Hamilton Township his entire life. He is single and has two daughters, Christine, 26, Meghan, 30. He attended Hamilton Township Elementary School, Oakcrest High School, Lycoming College and Richard Stockton College.

He is employed in distribution sales for Marine Equipment and Supply Co. in Thorofare, where he has worked for 31 years.

Strigh was inducted into the Oakcrest High School Wall of Fame for athletic and community achievement and involvement.

“With the help of volunteers, I designed and constructed a nationally recognized buoyed rowing race course on Lake Lenape serving 11 area high schools which promotes competitive athletic achievement which in turn has fostered many scholarship opportunities for our high school athletes,” he said.

Over the years he has been involved with the Brigantine Rowing Association, AtlanticRidingCenter for the Handicapped, and Unity Lodge No. 96 F&AM. He is a former member of the Mays Landing Athletic Association and Mays Landing Rotary Club.

Strigh served from 1990-1995 on Township Committee, including one year as mayor. Other offices include Hamilton Township Planning Board, 1994-1995; Hamilton Township Social Services Board 1990-1993; and Hamilton Township Zoning Board 2010 to present. He was recently appointed to the New Jersey Boat Regulation Commission by Gov. Christie for a four-year term.

His political involvement has included participation in the Hamilton Township Strategic Planning Initiative, chairing the fiscal affordability subcommittee that drafted the township’s affordability ordinance, and participation in both the smart growth subcommittee and the quality of life subcommittee. He is a member of the Atlantic County Rowing Association and a licensed U.S. Rowing referee.

He said that if elected, he would continue the current fiscal polices.

“Taxes are now stable, pay-as-you-go budgets have become a reality, staffing levels are appropriate, and the township is well on its way to eliminate our debt,” he said.

“Critical planning and zoning decisions are made every day that affect residents and business. Basin issues are now being addressed, roads are now being paved, and quality of life issues are being addressed through code enforcement,” he continued.

“Township residents must have committed, experienced elected officials, and not special interests, to make the decisions necessary to maintain quality levels of affordable municipal services.”

Strigh said his main areas of concern will be maintaining township roads through paving, patrolling with emergency services, and maintenance.

Judith Young Link

Democrat

Link has owned Young's Skating Center since 1995 with her husband, James P. Link Jr., and has lived in the township since then. Her parents, Ed and Winnie Young, bought Lenape Park in 1962 when she was 14; however, they lived in Ventnor until 1970, when they moved to Mays Landing.

A graduate of Atlantic City High School, Link has a bachelor’s degree in science and a teaching certificate from Ursinus College, and a master’s degree in biological science at West Chester State College.

Link said she has won several awards in the skating industry and was given the Attaboy Award for organizing a skate on Washington over a reform bill concerning liability insurance. She organized the USA Friendship Cup, which involved athletes from all over the world to compete in roller skating competition, and she and her husband received the national Operators of the Year Award.
She is a member of the Rotary Club of Mays Landing (president 2004-2005) and was a member of the Pinelands Commission from 2009-2011.

“I have seen over the last seven years taxes going up and services diminish, and former landmarks of this township deteriorate and disappear,” Link said. “Also, our sports program and senior citizens have been poorly treated.”
She said that if she had been on committee recently, she would have worked extremely hard to obtain ratable grants.

“I would have worked at sharing the facility with PAL, allowing the Senior Citizen Center open, instead of telling them not to come back the next day. Also, in light of the storm of the century which was June 30, I felt the communication to the citizens of the township totally lacking as to what to do and what the township was or wasn't going to do. Official notice was sent on Sept. 18 that the residents must call to have leaves removed, yet they waited two months to address the problem.”
If elected, she would keep tight controls on the number of township employees and money budgeted and spent in the operating budget, keep the annual capital budget within the cap established in the debt reduction plan, aggressively pursue the restoration of state cuts in energy receipts (state aid) to pre-Christie level, keep police safety at existing levels, and continue funding public safety equipment such as fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, etc., in the capital budget so public safety is maintained.

 
   
 
 
  


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