MANCHESTER – It will be a quiet local election, as the three politicians up for re-election are running unopposed this year.
Mayor Kenneth Palmer, Council President Craig Wallis and Council Vice President Joan Brush filed to run for their respective mayoral and council seats. No other petitions were filed.
“I am honored to announce that I, along with my teammates Councilman Craig Wallis and Councilwoman Joan Brush, have filed our petitions to run for re-election in November. Since we are running unopposed, on behalf of Craig and Joan, we look forward to serving you for another four years,” Palmer wrote in a social media post.
He elaborated a bit more in an email to The Manchester Times.
“The past four years has been a blur but with a number of successes. We lowered the municipal tax rate three out of four years, accumulated a sizeable surplus which helped solidify our financial condition. We also made significant investments and improvements to our aging infrastructure and capital, revitalized two township parks, implemented a town-wide paving plan, added enjoyable programs to our recreation department, increased our police force and modernized the tools our officers need to keep us safe. Over the next four years my goal is to continue refurbishing our aging infrastructure and parks and ensure we make sound decisions about our growth. I am truly humbled to continue serving as mayor of our town.”
Palmer ousted incumbent Michael Fressola and took office in January 2015. He’s a Manchester Township High School graduate and local attorney. He lives with his wife and three children.
Brush said she’d like to get more ratables into Manchester. There are a few in the planning stages, but wants to make sure they come into existence. Wallis agreed.
“The hardest part for us is, in this town, when you look at the towns that have a lot of businesses, we don’t have that many businesses, so everything falls on the residents,” Wallis said. “We need to get better ratables, like Joan said, but it’s hard with the DEP and Pinelands (the State Department of Environmental Protection and the Pinelands Commission, two bodies that govern development in environmentally sensitive areas), and everybody else shooting us down for anything. But, if you look at the past years, we’ve been able to keep a very steady rate here, which is a good thing.”
Things have gotten better in Manchester in the last four years, both said, and believe the plans for the township will get “better and better.”
Wallis was elected in 2004 and has served on council since. He’s a former Marine and retired Air Force First Sergeant, and has worked as a site manager/planner since 1997. He’s lived in Manchester with his wife and daughter since 1996.
Brush was appointed to fill a vacant seat left by former councilman Brendan Weiner back in March 2017. She then ran unopposed to fill the one-year unexpired term that November. This year is her first running for a full, four-year term. She’s a former bus driver/trainer for the township schools, and is currently employed by a local real estate company.
As for why no one else has thrown their hat in this year’s race, the answer seems simple.
“People must be happy with the job we’re doing,” Brush said.