LACEY – Two Republican incumbents versus two Democrat challengers will appear on the township ballot in the committee race on November 2.
This year’s race also includes a municipal ballot question asking whether the governing body should allow cannabis distribution and cultivation in the community.
GOP incumbents Mark Dykoff and Timothy McDonald will face Democrats William Stemmle and Stuart Feldman.
Feldman, 72, is married, with two children and one granddaughter.
He is retired and previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 30 years in Regulatory Affairs and Quality Control. He is running because “I want to return to two party governance and to offer a fresh perspective on local issues to the residents of Lacey.”
Feldman said he feels the single most pressing issue facing the township is “theOyster Creek Power Plant decommissioning. Holding Holtec accountable to the promised transparency during decommissioning process. Explore ways to monetize the storage of spent nuclear waste at the site to the benefit of Lacey.”
He added that “our opponents have been too deferential to Holtec and have not held the company accountable to the promises made to the community.
Feldman also feels, “our current committee has been mostly reactive rather proactive on the issues related to decommissioning of the plant. They have not actively explored opportunities to monetize the storage of the spent nuclear waste at the site, for example, by imposing a fee for such storage as proposed by other communities where nuclear plants are being decommissioned.”
Concerning the topic of marijuana sales and distribution within Lacey, an issue which has split members of the current all Republican Committee, Feldman said he favors “opening recreational cannabis dispensaries in accordance with the will of the voters in Lacey where the corresponding ballot question was approved 64% to 36%.”
“I have held a number of supervisory and executive positions during my career in the pharmaceutical industry including regulatory oversight of major multimillion dollar projects for new biotech manufacturing facilities,” Feldman said.
He added that “any decisions that I make will always be in best interests of the residents of Lacey. People over politics! Facts over lies. Truth matters!”
Incumbent Dykoff, 61, has been married for 38 years to his wife Tammy and has two daughters Melissa and Lindsey who are both graduates of Lacey Township High School. “I also have a grandaughter Sophie Belle who is the light of both my wife and my lives. My wife and I moved to the area 33 years ago seeking a place to raise a family. We targeted Lacey township but the cost of housing was above our price range. We settled in Waretown while knowing our goal was to one day live in Lacey. Our opportunity came 9 years later when, with the help of family we were able to move.”
The candidate said he became involved in the community by joining the local Chamber of Commerce serving as vice president. “My wife also joined the Rotary Club as well as Kiwanis and I became involved in Lacey life through the local sports organizations by first sponsoring through my family’s business and then volunteering as a coach.”
“When I first sought election to the township Committee, I felt that my business experience would be of great benefit to the township. While this was true, I quickly learned the distinct differences between the private and public sector as it relates to many areas but mostly Labor and Finance. The skills I have gained not only in my 17 years on the Township Committee but also in my 10 plus years as a public employee specifically in Management and Customer Service, have afforded me extensive knowledge of municipal and state operations specifically as it relates to Labor, Finance and Land use,” Dykoff added.
Dykoff said, “I see overdevelopment to be the most pressing issue facing Lacey township. It is for this reason that I have focused my efforts of late on Land Use. We as a township must work within the confines of the law on this issue. By gaining knowledge of these laws, we will be able to help guide future development in the township.”
As to Holtec’s decommissioning of the Oyster Creek Generating Station, Dykoff said, “for the first 15 years which I served on the Township Committee, I was the Liaison to the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station. One of the reasons I sought re-election three years ago was that I felt my experience would be of great benefit in the transition to Holtec. Committeeman McDonald and I have taken the lead on communications during the decommissioning process and have been able to have successful negotiations with the management at Holtec.”
“We have been in constant contact with them throughout every phase especially as it relates to safety. Our latest efforts along with Township employees and professionals have been focused on the financial end as it relates to property tax assessment, energy receipt tax as well as exploring host community funds as it relates to the spent fuel casks that remain on site. All these will help to ensure the revenue stream from the site remains uninterrupted,” Dykoff said.
Regarding traffic, Dykoff said, “I believe overdevelopment is the most pressing issue facing the township. This goes hand in hand with traffic. In previous years, the township Committee fought to develop the Railroad Right of way as a bypass road for Route 9. That along with the reconfiguration of Route 9 in front of Home Depot and Walmart have greatly improved traffic flow on the north side of town.”
“The Township Committee in conjunction with the County have worked on placing a traffic light at Railroad Avenue and Lacey Road and the future plan will be to extend that road south to help on the South side of town. Aside from that, I have led the fight to stop the development of multifamily housing especially on Rt. 9. I have also led the initiative for a traffic light at the intersection of Lake Barnegat Drive North and Haines and that installation is well along the way,” Dykoff added.
As to the township adding recreational marijuana industry, Dykoff noted that “Committeeman McDonald and I led the initiative to place this question on the ballot. We felt that the original question about recreational marijuana was too non-descript and that those individuals who voted in favor did not understand the full scope of the issue. We have always sought to gain an understanding of all aspects of an issue prior to making a final decision.”
Stemmle said he decided to run again for a spot on the Committee, as he ran unsuccessfully in the last committee election. He said he wants “to return the two-party system, along with a fresh perspective, to Lacey, and to make government more responsive to the will of the people.”
“I was born in Jersey City 68 years ago, moved to Ocean County in 1969, and graduated with a B.A. from Rider College in 1974. I worked at the Ocean County Board of Social Services for 37 years, 34 as a supervisor. My family moved to Forked River in 1982, and our three children and three grandchildren continue to live in Lacey,” Stemmle added.
The candidate added that “compassion and empathy are necessary skills in both social services and government. In addition, my experiences as a supervisor managing disparate staff and administering complex programs will be assets to the Committee.”
Stemmle feels the most pressing short-term issue in Lacey “is traffic congestion, while the greatest long-term challenge is adjusting to the decommissioning of Oyster Creek.”
Regarding the latter concern, he said he was “concerned that the Township Committee has already fumbled the situation. We have a right to greater transparency from Holtec concerning safety issues, and we should expand efforts to obtain remuneration for the storage of nuclear waste, such as the Stranded Act currently being considered in Congress.”
Regarding traffic issues in the community, Stemmle noted “the severe congestion on Route 9 south of Lacey Road needs to be addressed promptly, by exploring options to expand Route 9 or develop an alternate route. In addition, the intersection of Haines Street and Lake Barnegat Drive has needed a traffic light for several years. I believe traffic needs have to be addressed with any further development, such as the abortive housing development on Route 9 south of Lacey Road that was moving forward until the public outcry proved deafening, or the future development planned off Railroad Avenue.”
Regarding the recreational marijuana referendum question Stemmle said he was in “in favor of allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries and cultivation in town. The current ban is contrary to the wishes of 2/3 of the residents voting last year.”
“It will not prevent any negative effects from legalization such as impaired drivers, but only serves to prevent the township from obtaining any tax revenue, which has been estimated by Committeeman McDonald to be $200,000 yearly. This revenue source should have been accessed before the Committee raised property taxes.”
Stemmle added, “the local ballot question is based on the goofy theories that Lacey voters wanted marijuana legalized but didn’t want to receive tax revenue, and that “gang bangers” would descend on Lacey if pot is legally sold here. It is a non-binding referendum designed solely to allow our opponents to appear to be concerned about the will of the people, while still being able to continue to ban sales after the election regardless of the outcome.”
McDonald said he was running for another term because, “experience is important, as Lacey enters a new phase, one without the Oyster Creek power plant; the dynamics of this great town are going to change. Before being elected to the township committee I served as the chairmen of the board of adjustment for over 20 years. I have the experience to help guide Lacey in this new phase.”
The candidate is 64 years old and has been married to his wife for 36 years. “We have two sons, one is a special agent for the Air Force and the other one is married and lives in Berkeley Township. I have been a financial advisor for 33 years and am currently employed with the Greater New Jersey Financial Group.”
McDonald said he has “been able to take my experience as both a financial advisor, along with my time on the Board of Adjustment and my six years on the Township Committee and use it to keep making a Lacey Township the great place that it is.”
“There are two issues that Lacey is facing and they are equally pressing. One is overdevelopment and the other is property tax assessment at the power plant,” McDonald said. He noted, multi-unit developments coming into the community “can be both taxing on the township and taxing on the school district. Making sure we do it properly is so important.”
He added that the tax assessment at the power plant is equally as important as land development, due to the financial implications that it could have on the township. “We have to make sure that this fair to Holtech and to the township.”
Regarding the Oyster Creek decommissioning, McDonald said, “at the beginning we had some rough seas, but about two years ago, Committeemen Dykoff and myself lead a team that met with Holtech and ironed a lot of differences that existed between us. I think now we have good relationship with Holtech as we begin the final stage of decommissioning Oyster Creek.”
Concerning traffic in Lacey, “this issue goes hand in hand with land development. With Route 9 being a major road in Lacey township, we have to be very aware of what kind of developments that are going in on Route 9,” McDonald said.
“I am pleased with what the county is doing with Lacey Road and the improvements that are making to reduce traffic congestion. I’m hoping that in the very near future we can arrange a meeting with the State of New Jersey to discuss improvements to Route 9, similar to what the county is doing to Lacey Road,” McDonald said.
McDonald said he and his GOP running mate lead the initiative to place the marijuana vote on the ballot. “Last year 64% of those who voted in Lacey voted for recreational marijuana. I have said from the beginning that if we knew what the law was going to be when we went to the polls last year, no way recreational marijuana passes. Now that we know what the law is, we are going to find out if Lacey residents want recreational marijuana in Lacey Township.”