By Lexie Yearly
Bordentown Township residents voted to change the makeup of township committee at the polls Nov. 6.
Of the four candidates vying for two committee seats, incumbent John Moynihan, a Republican, received enough votes to retain his seat, and Democrat Stephen Benowitz was elected to fill the seat held by Republican Deputy Mayor Michael Dauber.
Benowitz and Moynihan both expressed goals they had in mind to improve the township, and listed a number of ideas and plans to bring to the table as committee members.
As soon as the votes were tallied, Benowitz was already eager to get to work. As part of his campaign, which he began in May, Benowitz knocked on doors throughout the township to visit with residents and gain feedback on issues and concerns. He said the neighborhood visits — what he calls “service to the residents” — are something he’ll continue throughout his term, with the goal of visiting each household a minimum of three times. The week after election day, he was also out introducing himself to local businesses.
Benowitz said the visits he’s already done have given him insight on township issues he wants to address, including the need for strong township services.
“People feel they’re not getting the bang out of their buck,” Benowitz said, “and I’ve heard when I went door to door the same thing over and over again, ‘we’re paying higher taxes, but we’re not getting the service.’”
Another one of his key focuses, he said, is to establish the position of township administrator.
“In no disrespect to the chief of police, I don’t think the chief of police should wear two hats: part-time township administrator and full-time police chief. I don’t know any town that does that,” Benowitz said.
He believes there are options the township could explore to hire a township administrator without requiring a big budget.
Benowitz had several other goals in mind, including strengthening the economic development committee, further exploring shared services and encouraging community support of local businesses.
He also hoped to focus on keeping the township business friendly to attract more commercial rateables.
“We want to make sure…that people get the idea that we are business friendly, but we’re still protecting the interests of people in the township,” Benowitz said.
Moynihan, who was appointed to the committee in July, also hoped to bring businesses to the area, and hoped to utilize his business experience to bring positive change to the township.
He said one of his immediate goals was to work with the committee to examine and identify cost savings and opportunities in the administration of township services.
“Our first goal is to look internally to the township to see what we can do to keep our expenses in line,” Moynihan said.
He noted that his biggest concern is making sure to first provide residents with the necessary services to make sure the needs are met first. Moynihan said he wants to focus on providing those essential services in the most cost effective ways.
“I think that’s what the committee is going to have to deal with in the coming year, and I’m going to suggest to other members that we concentrate on what are viewed as essential services,” he said.
Other issues he hoped to focus on included exploring more shared services opportunities and remaining business friendly to attract new businesses to the township.
Moynihan also cited the issue of the township administrator, stating he isn’t strongly campaigning for either side of the argument and instead plans to come into the discussion with an open mind.
“I’m coming to the discussion with an open mind and a blank sheet of paper,” Moynihan said. “I know that’s a contentious issue to a lot of people in the township.”
“It should be based on fact and it should be based on budget realities,” he said.
After the votes were tallied, Moynihan said he was most immediately looking forward to the committee reorganization meeting. Since his appointment in July, Moynihan has worked with the department of public works and with seniors and special events. He said he had enjoyed focusing on those departments, and hoped to offer suggestions to continue improving them.