Republican Township Committeeman John Carpenter, election running mate with this year's deputy mayor, Mary Pavlini, points to a six-year reduction in municipal taxes collected from residents, a debt-free municipal budget and other financial actions taken by the all-GOP Township Committee as reasons he feels township voters should re-elect him this Tuesday.
Carpenter, who said he has lived in the township since 1969, already has served two terms on the Township Committee. He is seeking a third, running with Pavlini against the Democratic team with two candidates seeking the positions, Michael Komondy and Bonnie Diehl.
"Our goal is to keep our municipal tax levy as low as possible," Carpenter said of the Republican team. Although other portions of the local property tax rate — which also includes school, open space and county taxes — have risen, he said that the municipal tax levy, the amount of taxes collected from residents, actually is lower than it was in 2005.
His calculation is that tax levy cuts — which were greater some years than others — added up to about $4.5 million in savings for local property owners during those years.
The township also celebrated with a on Oct. 30 to recognize that the municipal budget would be free of debt as of November, and Carpenter has said he considers that another major financial achievement by the current team of Township Committee members. The township has a triple A bond rating, he noted, and also received praise from its auditor for its financial condition earlier this month.
"Taxes, spending and borrowing are important issues," in the election, Carpenter said in an interview last week. "We are better positioned than any other [town] in the state to deal with this tough economic environment," he said.
Carpenter also serves as chairman of the Municipal Alliance of Substance Abuse, which he said he believes is making inroads in its campaign to convince parents and teens that those who start drinking or using drugs at a young age are at greater risk for lifelong substance abuse. Hee said he also has been chairman of the Bernards Township Sewerage Authority, a member of the Township Committee police subcommittee, as well as the subcommittee for the Basking Ridge Fire Company and first aid squad, a member of a joint subcommittee of the school board and Township Committee. He said his other appointments have included being a past member of the Planning Board and the farmland preservation committee.
He also was one of the negotiators in litigation against the Millington Quarry, which he said has resulted in a "net positive" for the township. One of the litigants, Tilcon New York, has dropped out of the lawsuit and the township has managed to halt the import of potentially contaminated soil into the property off Stonehouse Road.
"I am looking forward to seeing what they come in for reclamation," Carpenter said of the plan the quarry is due to soon present before the Planning Board as its future blueprint for turning the quarried land into future residential property.
During a candidates' forum at Ridge High School, Carpenter said he doesn't believe either of his opponents raised a single substantive issue against the Republican candidates.
However, his opponent Komondy later said he believed the township should have been able to mediate a solution with the Bamboo Grille restaurant, which now is suing the township for prohibiting amplified music at the Madisonville Road eatery as a condition for the renewal of its liquor license.
Carpenter said he and other township officials had tried for four years to come up with a solution that would satisfy the as well as the homeowners who have complained about excessive levels of noise they said they often had to endure every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, as well as hours on Sunday afternoon. He said the restaurant operators, located at the had been told they would need to take steps to cut back on the noise.
He said the homeowners are not expecting complete quiet, but are seeking a rollback to the era of when a previous operator ran the restaurant at the Basking Ridge Country Club.
In response to a charge that he is "friends" with one of the homeowners, Carpenter said that Scott Ross, a member of the township Board of Adjustment, had moved to town already with qualifications to serve on a land use board. He also said he does not believe that Ross needs to give up his rights as a citizen just because he volunteers on a local board.
Carpenter, like Pavlini, also contended that township officials had investigated complaints that asphalt millings had been used at the Whitenack Woods open space, owned by the township. He said that officials who had arranged that the millings from an older road be used there instead of new asphalt that is placed on paths in other township parks had consulted with and followed guidelines issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Carpenter said he now is in the sales organization at Bayer Healthcare in Morristown. He said he spent more than 20 years in information technology, most of it self-employed, and previously was a corporate pilot.