2013-10-23 / Front Page

Two sides square off in Marlboro election

By JACK MURTHA
Staff Writer

MARLBORO — A team of incumbent Democrats will battle a trio of Republicans for three four-year terms on the Marlboro Township Council in the Nov. 5 election.

Council members Jeff Cantor, Carol Mazzola and Scott Metzger will appear on the Democratic side of the ballot.

Republicans Robert Knight, Marielaina LaRosa and Craig Marshall will attempt to unseat the incumbents.

The candidates responded to questions posed by the News Transcript.

What is your professional background and what skills do you have that you believe will add to the Township Council?

Cantor: I have been employed in the pharmaceutical industry for the last 22 years. I am also a licensed emergency medical technician, and have spent the last 28 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and have attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. My strongest skill sets are my ability to problem solve, strategic planning, and care and empathy for our residents.

Through my experiences, I have been put into very complex situations that require the ability to think on my feet as well as solve difficult problems with lasting solutions. My goal when I was first elected to council is to put people first. I still hold steadfast to that rule and do whatever I can to help the great people of Marlboro with issues that affect them.

Mazzola: I have been involved in real estate for more than 25 years, including sales, management and independent ownership. That taught me the leadership and decision making skills that evolve when you take responsibility for your actions and their results. My four years as a council member enabled me to focus on being fiscally conservative and objective. That experience helped me to make tough decisions that are not always popular, but are in the best interests of our residents.

I believe professional success and community service mirror each other. I volunteer with charitable and community-based organizations. My run as president of the Kiwanis Club of Marlboro in 2011-12 gave me the ability to expand Kiwanis’ reach beyond Marlboro.

My background in marketing, public relations and advertising enabled the club to help children, seniors and families throughout Monmouth County. I hosted awareness projects and events that were directed at collecting groceries, household items, toys and clothing for homeless shelters, women’s shelters, food pantries and youth organizations. I planned fundraisers to ease the burden for families in need.

Metzger: I have been a resident of Marlboro for nearly 45 years and I am currently completing my first term on the Township Council. For the past 16 years, I have been a pain management physician with local offices.

As the founder of Premier Pain Centers, my strongest skills include the ability to communicate clearly, lead by example and share my vision. It is not enough to simply address the question at hand. It is important to look several steps beyond the most obvious answers. Planning for just about any eventuality leads to the best outcomes. The experiences derived from being a near-lifelong resident of Marlboro and from overseeing a medical practice, which is the leader in my specialty, allow me to be a significant contributor to the council.

Knight: I spent more than two decades in the financial services industry, managing high-profile groups, preparing budgets in prosperous and challenging times, conducting major regulatory risk audits and working in risk management for top financial banks and investment firms on Wall Street.

My skill sets will add the financial expertise currently lacking on the council by helping to reduce current expenditures, and taking dives into the gray areas of the budget to find alternative solutions and savings. Making tough decisions to reduce unnecessary expenditures is the first step to stabilizing property taxes and restoring a true surplus that Marlboro once had.

We need to prepare for the huge influx of children resulting from construction in town. We can no longer continue to borrow and live on plastic if we want Marlboro to be a place where our children can raise their families and we can retire in. I will not vote for one-time revenue schemes that do not offer greater value of services at a reduced cost, such as when the township took control over the water authority.

LaRosa: My experience is as a wife for more than 20 years and a mother of two children living in the township. I am also an associate at a major retail label and have been recognized many times for my marketing and sales work.

I am a people person and, above all else, I am able to listen to the concerns of citizens with patience and respect. No matter who they are or what their political affiliation is, my mentality is that the customer is to be valued and their issue resolved in the best way possible. These skills are readily transferable to meeting the needs and interests of all residents of the township.

Marshall: My professional background includes financial and management consulting with Ernst & Young and KPMG, two of the largest global accounting and consulting firms. In 2007, I started my own small business, Christopher Drummond Beauty. With limited resources, I had to rely on my previous experience in budgeting, vendor-management and domestic and international business development, which elevated my management skills and enabled me to successfully survive the economic crisis.

My skill sets will add to the council by reducing wasteful spending, by not voting for proposed increases in expenses unless they are revenue-neutral. I champion the use of local professional firms and vendors that offer competitive pricing. I will not vote for one-time revenue schemes that do not offer our residents greater value of services at a reduced cost.

I will treat Marlboro as my own business, using my knowledge and experience to work with the Economic Development Committee to bring business to Marlboro and to develop solutions, programs and assistance to those businesses without gimmicky schemes, building on local synergies between local businesses and national Fortune 500 companies.

What is one thing in Marlboro that needs to be improved and how will you fix it?

Knight: Under the current administration, Marlboro has moved in the wrong direction. Unsightly billboards, sweetheart deals to builders such as the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program for the Camelot development, poor choices for commercial ratables and major infrastructure concerns have contributed to the decline of Marlboro.

In 2008, Marlboro was rated the 33rd best place to live in America. Today we don’t even rank in the top 100. While I realize there are times when judicial decisions mandate certain requirements, I vow to only vote to appoint outstanding residents to the planning and zoning boards, and no one with questionable ethical character issues and arrest records.

There are issues with current board members such as publicly mocking, ridiculing and offending residents. An indictment of fraud was handed down to a board member appointed by the administration. Unfortunately, the incumbents continue to support these individuals by excusing or qualifying their behavior. I would use all available resources to terminate the appointment of any individual who abuses their privilege of serving our residents.

LaRosa: Neither I nor the current administration has ever supported a government that is completely controlled by one party, without any appropriate checks and balances. A new set of eyes and ears is needed to ensure there are no detrimental zoning decisions, that open space is preserved, to curtail budget overruns and fee increases, while stemming out-of-control housing developments that are overburdening our schools and already dilapidated road infrastructure.

Marshall: The visual landscape of Marlboro has changed to the dismay of many residents, including additional unsightly billboards, continued over-development and congestion, which places an unnecessary burden on our municipal infrastructure. Many current or proposed developments are on contaminated land, increasing the likelihood of downstream contamination to properties surrounding those new developments. Too many variances are granted to certain individuals and builders, allowing the furtherance of this issue.

While I realize there are times when judicial decisions mandate certain requirements, I will vote to select like-minded individuals to committees whose visions are better aligned with our residents and our community. I will champion the creation of best practices for selection of candidates for local boards and committees, and couple those best practices with a stringent code of ethics for these individuals. We need responsible and qualified people to manage our community — a position I believe every Marlboro resident shares.

Cantor: When I was elected, I said I wanted to establish a downtown area with shops, restaurants, boutiques, affordable housing, recreation and office space. We have identified where we can construct this area and we are conducting studies to ensure there are no environmental concerns with moving forward.

I also plan to be involved with the Marlboro State Psychiatric Hospital property to ensure successful remediation by the state and planning for recreational use with the county. There are many roads that need to be paved around town, and I want to look for cost-saving ways to pave more roads at a preferential cost. I am also very involved in emergency management and I want to make sure we are set up for success in the event of a disaster or catastrophic event. I care about Marlboro’s families and I want to ensure the highest level of protection for them.

Mazzola: Marlboro has sought different ways to become more economically independent. The council, the mayor and the administration have worked for flat spending, and to keep taxes stable while continuing to maintain the infrastructure of the town. The independent auditors who recently reported on the budget gave us high marks for managing revenues and expenditures, which reflects our commitment to guarding taxpayers’ dollars. We continue to seek resources for shared services.

As a member of the Economic Development Committee, one of our main objectives is to attract new businesses. Additional business brings tax revenue, and that helps to keep property taxes stable.

Marlboro launched the first tax reward program like “Shop Marlboro!” in the country in 2012. I helped to establish the program and I am one of its biggest supporters. More than 50 businesses and 3,000 households are enrolled. The potential effects “Shop Marlboro!” will have on increased income for merchants and savings for residents is a win-win.

Metzger: Marlboro is a great place to live and work. Others have come to realize the same conclusion. We now have to contend with the repercussions of rapid growth, which has put a strain on some aspects of the town’s infrastructure. I am in the process of putting together a committee to look at traffic issues in town and to come up with solutions to this escalating concern. The challenge that we are up against is that some of the most problematic roads are actually county and state roads. We will strategize to come up with a unified response to approach the outside agencies that are responsible for these roads to ensure we have the highest likelihood of success.

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