JACKSON – Four Republicans are running for three council seats with four-year terms in the November 3 general election.
Running on one ticket is Nino Borrelli, Steve Chisholm Jr. and Martin Flemming, while Robert Skinner will be a write-in candidate in the race. No Democrats are running this year.
Flemming joined the council through an appointment by the all Republican council on January 2 taking over the vacant spot of Councilman Robert Nixon who resigned in November 2019.
Chisholm was appointed to the council on June 9 following Barry Calogero’s resignation in April from the governing body. His appointment ends on December 31 and he is also seeking election to his first full term.
Borrelli currently serves as a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Absent from the ballot is Republican Councilman Ken Bressi who is not seeking re-election. He was first elected in 2012 and was sworn in January 2013. He was re-elected in 2016 and will complete his second term at the end of this year.
While Jackson has a nonpartisan form of government and candidates do not run under the banner of a political party, candidates often adopt slogans to run under and the support of the two main political affiliations does have an impact on the municipal races.
Flemming is the owner of County Line Hardware located in the township. He is seeking his first full term. In addition to serving on the council, he is a member of the Planning Board.
“I have lived in Jackson since 1963. My family has owned several hardware store/power equipment stores in the central New Jersey area since 1964. I was approached to take over an open council seat last year and after years of saying I was too busy, felt it was time to take part,” Flemming said.
“The idea of having multiple people on our Town Council who were born or grew up here seemed to make a connection with many townspeople. What I feel I can bring to the council is a sense of history and continuity. You cannot know where to go if you do not know where you have been,” the candidate added.
Flemming said he feels the most serious problem facing Jackson at this time “is over-development and over-crowding. Both of these issues have wide reaching effects on the entire town, from higher taxes to quality of life issues.”
“The quality issues can be traffic, noise, loss of forestation – the rural feel our town has enjoyed, depleted ground water, intrusion into sensitive ecological areas, and recreation. Recreation itself means many different things to different people,” he added.
“Hunters are losing areas and wildlife are being channeled into smaller and smaller avenues. All of these need to be addressed for immediate needs as well as long term mitigation,” Flemming added.
Chisholm has been a resident of the township for more than 40 years. He works for his family business, Aspen Tree Expert Co. “I moved here when I was 10 and was away for a couple of years when I first got married, but have been back in town for 24 years, so almost 40 total.”
“I am an arborist and manager working in our family business, Aspen Tree Expert Co., Inc. for almost 40 years. I have long been interested in politics and wanting to run, but waited until my kids were older so that I would have more time for it and they wouldn’t have to be subjected to any of the negative aspects of it while they were young,” Chisholm added.
Chisholm said, “I think at this time managing growth while bringing in businesses and services for residents without bringing in overcrowding and destroying the natural beauty of Jackson is probably our biggest challenge at this moment, and the current Council is doing a great job of trying to stay ahead of it.”
Borrelli has been a resident of Jackson since 2017. He is employed by the New Jersey Department of Human Services as a personnel assistant in a supervisory role. He has worked in human resources in state government for over 15 years and was reappointed to the zoning board by the council in June.
“Public service is a noble calling. I want to be in a leadership role and give back to the great town my wife and I live in. My civic involvement in the last two towns I resided and now in Jackson illustrates that about me,” Borrelli said.
Borrelli added, “local government is the closest government to the people and most grassroots. I care about Jackson and the issues facing our town. I strongly believe the best way to address those issues and make a difference is being a policymaker, a councilman.”
“Based on my previous experiences particularly in the area of land use serving a total of six years on Zoning Boards of Adjustment in Ocean and Monmouth County towns prior to moving to Jackson, I currently serve and volunteer on the Jackson Township Zoning Board of Adjustment putting me at the forefront of the fight to stop overdevelopment and balance smart residential and commercial growth, with critical open space preservation,” Borrelli said.
Borrelli said he’d “advocate for attracting smart and responsible commercial ratables in the appropriately zoned areas of our town which will help create jobs for our local residents and bring in much needed revenue helping to ease the tax burden on our fellow residents.”
His goals include “enforcing our zoning ordinances and master plan as best as possible in order to protect our town from overdevelopment and preserve as much open space as possible, keeping Jackson a suburban community.”
He promised to bring a “detail-oriented approach to the Township Council to maintain Jackson’s excellent credit rating and keep our town affordable municipal tax-wise for our fellow residents and businesses,” he said.
Borrelli said he also wishes to serve as “a strong advocate for Jackson residents by fighting back against liberal policies coming out of Trenton such as higher taxes and spending, huge reductions in state school aid, sanctuary cities, and unfair and unreasonable Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) mandates which would detrimentally impact our town’s quality of life placing a huge burden on our taxes, services, and infrastructure.”
Borrelli said the most serious issue facing Jackson Township is high density development and our quality of life. “I will also stand with our police and first responders to keep our town safe and protect our quality of life in Jackson.”
Also seeking a spot on the council is Robert Skinner who is running a write-in campaign. He has lived in the township for 18 years and is the vice president of Weichert Commercial Brokerage, specializing in commercial real estate sales and leases.
His entry into the race began when “I received phone calls suggesting that I run. I was told that I was among those who shined in the township as one of the only board chairmen not embroiled in lawsuits or some form of controversy.”
Skinner said he decided to run on a “Unite Jackson” pledge for many reasons. “First, the Jackson GOP has had complete control over which people run for office. I find this unreasonable for the simple reason that, (while we all can’t agree on everything), I do not believe at all times that my voice has always been adequately represented, nor do I always feel people of all faiths, backgrounds and parties are represented.”
“Over the years our local Republican club has stifled people like myself who wanted to get more involved. I found that although I was responsible for raising about $1,000 during a flower drive with a local company donating all of the flowers at my request, I found that I basically had to know my place and shut up. I consider myself to be a leader, not because I want later political patronage jobs, but because I genuinely care,” Skinner added.
“I don’t want to show anger at this GOP organization as other former members have, so instead I simply want to change the way we operate in town. I distanced myself from the Jackson GOP around two years ago and have kept to my objectives all along. To make sure ordinances are followed, our volunteers of my board are fully empowered and never have their voices stifled and we deliver the best service ever to our residents and their respective landlords (Rent Control Board),” he added.
“The number one issue in Jackson is the ridiculous lawsuits, which is coupled with judges crossing the line in telling our town how to approve land use applications. We must raise bond money in order to fight these lawsuits and create some landmark precedent here,” Skinner said.
Skinner said he’d like to see all township officials and volunteer board members watch a video each year regarding public speaking and use of social media. “This empowers them and also guides them on the type of language to use in such situations.”
He’d also like to see the township “go off to Wall Street to raise money for municipal bonds. This in large part would help to defray costs of the massive litigation we face in town. In many instances, bond holders may actually be Jackson residents so this gives them a further stake in their own town.”
The candidate also pledged a percentage of his salary to help pay down deficient school lunch accounts for children who need this aid. “No child should ever go hungry,” he added.
Skinner also said he’d “review all ordinances as to “tests”. Be mindful of any and all scenarios so we can tighten these ordinances and set up drop off points for school supplies all year long in town. This way we can start each school year off by making sure all children have adequate supplies so teachers don’t need to flip the bill.”
He seeks to create a program “where we introduce the high school seniors and college age people to municipal government by having them attend certain board meetings. After each meeting, there could be a 15-minute session of dialogue between student and officials. This helps us in finding fresh new blood and ideas plus it helps the students to understand how municipal government operates.”
Skinner created a unique method of campaigning during the current pandemic. “I host a radio show “Coffee Talk with Robert Skinner” on blogtalkradio.com.
“I am the first chairman of the Jackson rent leveling board to pass on fines to those who breach our ordinance and have collected those fines and returned the money to the taxpayer. This is a big accomplishment. This town needs to be fully united, and to pave the way for more common folk like myself to feel empowered to get on the ballot if he/she shall choose. Respect all races and diversity,” Skinner said.