MANCHESTER – Township Council President Sam F. Fusaro Jr. and Councilmen James Vaccaro Sr. and Robert A. Hudak won new terms on Election Day.
They faced one opponent, Joseph T. Hankins who ran as an independent. The three incumbents each received more than 15,000 votes during this year’s election.
Fusaro, who has been in office the longest, received 16,873 votes. Hudak received 16,817 votes. Vaccaro received 16,657 votes.
Hankins received 8,747 votes.
The figures in this article were from November 11. The Board of Elections had until November 10 to accept mail-in votes, Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella said. They only accepted ballots post marked by 8 p.m. on November 3.
After that, the provisional ballots were to be checked. These are ballots people fill out at the polls. They have to be compared against mail-ins to make sure people didn’t vote twice.
They also have to solve problems with any ballots that were questioned for not having a matching signature.
During their campaign the three Republican incumbents said in a joint statement that one of the most pressing issues that the mayor and council are currently facing is overdevelopment. “It is important that we maintain our quality of life in Manchester Township. One of the best ways of limiting development is by purchasing open space.
They said, “by using existing open space funds, we can purchase large parcels of property and preserve them forever without increasing taxes. This is what we did for the 25 acres we recently purchased off Ridgeway Road.
“This property could have potentially resulted on over 50 new homes being developed. Instead, this property is now preserved forever from development,” they added.
They also expressed the need to attract new businesses to the township. “We need to work hard to attract businesses to both commercial corridors along Route 70 and Route 37 and to the Whiting section. We recently approved several redevelopment projects that will result in new commercial businesses opening in town,” the joint statement added.
They also noted that “in constituting our Master Plan Review Committee, our goal is to sit down with business leaders and discuss what we as elected officials need to do to attract businesses to town. We need to update our zoning requirements to allow businesses the opportunity to utilize our existing commercial structures.”
“We also need to include residents in discussion groups to get their thoughts and ideas of what types of business they would like to see in our community,” they added.
Shared services was also noted as they said the “State is providing additional funding to encourage municipalities to share services. Recently we consolidate the courts in Manchester and Lakehurst with Lakehurst paying Manchester to take over their court system. This benefited both communities without any additional cost to Manchester Township taxpayers.”
The incumbents stated that they would continue to look for opportunities to provide shared services and reduce the cost of government. They also want to keep taxes low.
“Many of our residents are on fixed incomes yet the costs of providing quality services keeps increasing. Additionally, many of our young families are also struggling especially with the number of businesses closing and reducing the employee numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” they stated.
The incumbents said that this year the township created an EMT service that provides a needed service to residents. They added that while in the long term, this service will more than pay for itself, the initial startup costs needed to be included in the most recent municipal budget.
The statement adds that “due to our hard work, we were able to deliver this service with limited impact upon our budget by using some surplus to cover these expenses. Additionally, we have sought out grant funding to help us cover the costs of road repairs such as Ridgeway Boulevard and the new water tank installed behind the Ridgeway Fire Company building.”
The new tank will ease water restrictions in the township’s eastern service water area and eliminate the need for summer water restrictions, according to the councilmen.
In the township’s school board race three seats for full terms of three years featured four candidates. Melanie Biscardi came in with 15,830 votes while James “Ken” Pate received 13,400. Laura Wingler received 11,182 and Tony Goltsch received 9,45. There were 350 write-ins.
George Cervenak III ran unopposed for a one-year term on the board. He received 15,892 votes.
In Lakehurst which had no contested council race, incumbent Republicans Robert McCarthy and Patricia Hodges will be starting new three-year terms in January. In the one term race for a seat in the borough’s school board, Amy Lowe received 93.19% of the vote with 506 votes. There were 37 write in votes capturing 6.8 % of the vote total.