Six Vie For Council Seats In Jackson

Photo by Jennifer Peacock

JACKSON – With election day looming ever closer, voters will be reviewing the backgrounds and positions of six council candidates during this year’s municipal election.

Two four-year terms are in consideration and each candidate voiced their concerns, plans and backgrounds for holding this office.

Running with incumbent Republican Mayor Michael Reina under the campaign slogan of “Experienced Leadership Moving Jackson Forward” are Andrew Kern and Alex Saucikie.

Running with challenger Tracie Yostpille as part of the “Save Jackson” ticket are candidates Brandon Rose and Paul Sarti.

Republican incumbent Councilman Scott Martin, who previously ran with Reina as part of his party’s ticket, is running separately this time on the “Jackson First” campaign.

Alex Sauickie, Mike Reina & Andy Kern (left to right) (Courtesy of the campaign)
Paul Sarti, Tracie Yostpille & Brandon Rose (Photo courtesy the candidates)
Scott Martin (Photo courtesy Scott Martin)
Denise Garner (Photo courtesy Denise Garner)

Another council contender is Denise Garner whose slogan is “The Independent Voice For The People.”

Kern said he was motivated to run for council because “I want to keep Jackson a family-oriented town, maintaining the culture that I grew up in and chose to raise my children. I have spent my entire life contributing my time and efforts to help people from coaching sports for over 10 years to volunteering on boards, committees and commissions.”

“As a lifelong resident of Jackson, I believe that my business and life experience combined with my knowledge of state local land use laws can provide a substantial benefit to all Jackson residents,” Kern added.

Kern is the managing principal of an energy management firm that helps schools, health systems and commercial businesses reduce their utility expenses. He grew up on the west side of Jackson and has lived on the east side of the township with his wife and children for the past 17 years. This is his first foray into elected office since college.

“I have served as a member of the Jackson Township Planning Board since 2013 where I am currently the Vice-Chairman.

“In my career, I have helped schools, businesses, hospitals and government entities save millions of dollars in utility expenses using strategies to optimize proceeds from federal, state and utility incentive programs, scripting (request for proposal) documents and contract negotiation. I spent many years as part of a management team responsible for 325 employees and a $62 million per year P&L,” Kern said.

Kern spoke about what he feels is the most pressing issue that Jackson Township is currently facing saying that “as a life-long resident of Jackson I have watched the town grow in spurts over the years. Currently, there is an increasing burden from the state government and courts that could change our town. I will work hard to ensure our council continues to make the sound, defensible resolutions and ordinances that we will need to keep Jackson a family-oriented town that we are all proud to call home and will benefit all residents of Jackson Township for years to come.”

Kern added that “my goals are to preserve Jackson’s family-oriented culture by keeping taxes stable, attracting clean commercial businesses and continue improving infrastructure throughout the town.”

Sauickie currently serves as president and chief operating officer of a Jersey City based software company. “I’m also a small business owner, and own Liberty Tax Service businesses in Long Branch and the Bronx. I’m a lifelong resident of Jackson, growing up in Brookwood 4, and having attended Rosenauer Elementary (originally when it was still called the Brookwood School), Goetz Middle School, and am a proud member of the Class of ’89 from Jackson Memorial High School.”

This also marks Sauickie’s first foray into politics. He said his work history will help him to address issues in Jackson. “In my most current role, for example, I was able to identify over $8 million dollars in recurring annual cost savings for the company. I think that sense of fiscal responsibility and results is critical for this role. In addition, as a small business owner I’m proud of the businesses that I’ve built from scratch, and which during tax season employ as many as 1,100 people.”

“I think by far the most pressing issue is Trenton governor- and legislature-mandated policies thrust upon the township. That alone plays a major role in what I’m hearing from residents are the most concerning issues, including overdevelopment or COAH (Council On Affordable Housing), which is a Trenton legislative policy forced upon us by the NJ Supreme Court, and most recently the governor, who after the 2018 township school budget was done, took back from Jackson $1.3 million in 2018, and an incredible $17.3 million by 2024 from our schools,” Sauickie said.

“As an adult I could have lived anywhere however I wanted to raise my family in the same town in which I was raised,” he said. “I have a history of volunteering. I spent seven years as a board member of the Kimball Medical Center Foundation (now Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus), two years leading it as its chairman. I founded a 501(c)(3) foundation in memory of my daughter that raised several thousands of dollars to benefit children. I currently volunteer on the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, where I have a record of fighting to uphold our zoning laws and ensure smart commercial growth that doesn’t negatively impact our residential areas and our residents.”

Garner said she has been a resident of Jackson for the past 23 years.

“I live in the Van Hiseville section off Cedar Swamp Road. I was attracted to this area because of its rural beauty and affordability.”

The candidate said “I have degree in natural science/computer science and geographic information systems (GIS). I started out my career as computer systems analyst, but with my continued service as an environmental commissioner, my focus has shifted to GIS and environmental science. My education and credentials have enabled me to consult for large utility and telecommunication companies as well as the State Department of Environmental Protection.”

Garner ran for council four years ago, “and garnered over 5,000 votes. I served 14 years on the Environmental Commission, an appointed volunteer position, as a civic duty for the people of Jackson.”

She added that “as I was raising my family with my husband of 35 years. I taught CCD for seven years, coached Little League baseball, basketball and soccer. I was also a Jackson Memorial High School band mom for 10 years.”

Garner said that during her years of serving on the Environmental Commission “I have attended countless Planning, Zoning and Township Council meetings. In doing so, this has given me the experience to understand all aspects of how our township functions, especially working with township officials and private citizens to strike a fair balance between party politics and people.”

Garner feels the most pressing issue that Jackson Township is facing are taxes. “Taxes are a huge issue for many residents. Many are concerned about over development and additional taxes. Residents have commented to me that they moved to Jackson Township because of characteristics and natural beauty. I believe the people’s concerns are not being heard, party politics, pay to play and double dipping will ultimately destroy our township.”

Garner added that “I believe in effective government representing the people not the special interests. Proper planning, shared resources and accountability of the government will keep taxes stable.”

Martin said “I enjoy serving the people of Jackson. Being in a position to effect policy and improve the lives of our constituents is a responsibility which I take very seriously. I also enjoy working with the many non-profit and sports groups we have in town.”

The candidate said he felt his best accomplishment while in office was “establishing fiscal discipline while rebuilding our police force. Before taking office, spending was increasing at an alarming rate and our debt had increased by 7.1 million. Now we live within our means and we’ve reduced debt by 13 million dollars over the last 10 years and we were recently named the 29th safest town in New Jersey.”

The candidate would not comment on his running separate from the Republican slate this election.

Regarding the township’s most pressing issue, he said “we need to enforce our zoning and code ordinances, but most of all we need to hold violators accountable and make penalties for repeat offenders tougher. We need to craft an ordinance to hold anyone who purchases a single-family home as an investment property accountable if they are renting out their home improperly and they aren’t monitoring their renters for illegal activity or having inappropriate amount of people living in the home.”

Martin said that as a financial advisor “I’m able to analyze the budget to locate savings and keep spending increases to a bare minimum which in return will minimize tax increases.

“While serving as an elected official it’s important to remember your elected to serve the people you represent and not your party or your own political ambitions. I’m very proud to say I’ve always been able to work with any elected official regardless of party and speak with any constituent group whatever their concern may be. If re-elected I’ll continue to put the people of Jackson first,” he concluded.

Sarti said he was running for a council seat because “I felt it was time to stop complaining and to do something about the problems in Jackson. Over-development and increasing taxes are threatening our quality of life and Jackson needs new leadership and a new direction.

“I work for the State of NJ with the Division of Pensions. I am the Supervisor of Retired Health Benefits for state, some local, and some board of education employees. I moved to Jackson with my parents in 1988. I got married in October of 1991 and we move to Lavallette for a few years and then moved back to Jackson for good in 1996.”

While never having run for office before, the candidate said “my wife and I have been active volunteers in Jackson for over 20 years because we care about our community and making it better. I have experience working with multi-million dollar budgets through my job and I am looking forward cutting the budget, especially the overpriced legal services that have cost Jackson taxpayers millions.”

Sarti said he feels the most pressing issue facing the township is over-development. “(The current administration) approved 4,960 family housing units in Jackson that are due to be built by 2025. Nearly all of these units are high-density apartments and townhouses and 50 percent of the approved low-income units allow for 3, 4, 5, and 6-bedroom units. Our infrastructure cannot handle this mass influx of new residents and as a councilman, I will do everything in my power to stop this reckless plan.”

Rose said his primary motivation in running “is to stop the over-development in Jackson. We need to elect new people that oppose this development.

“I am a law enforcement professional with over 21 years of experience. I moved to Jackson in 2010. This is my first time running for an elected office,” Rose said.

“Real life experiences that will help me in the role of council member include things like being part of a law enforcement union that has negotiated multi-million dollar labor contracts with the State of New Jersey. My designation as a Certified Public Manager and graduate of the NJ Chiefs of Police West Point Command and Leadership program have also provided me invaluable tools in how to manage people and resources while achieving results,” Rose said.

Like his council running mate, Rose feels “over-development of open space in Jackson is the most pressing issue. It’s not just what I think either. It’s what concerns the residents of Jackson. I talk to people who have lived in Jackson for over 40 years and those who have just recently moved here. We don’t want to be put in a situation where the infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, schools) can’t support the population.”

Rose added that “nearly all of the 4,960 family units approved…are high-density apartments and townhouses at between 6 and 12 units per acre. We need to keep lot sizes to previously adopted minimum standards of no more than one home per acre.”

“I truly enjoy meeting and talking to the people that live in Jackson as I campaign for elected office,” Rose said.