EDITOR: As often happens during this time of year, we hear of the qualifications and resumes of candidates up for election, but sometimes miss the human element.
Folks willing to run for office, regardless of political affiliation, are typically hard-working volunteers looking to make a difference in their respective towns, and each has a story.
I have a somewhat unique perspective on Bedminster Township Committeeman Doug Stevinson, as I sit next to him on the dais.
From my vantage point, I have witnessed firsthand Doug’s emotional reaction to reports of neglect and unsafe conditions at the Pluckemin Park senior housing facility. He quickly became personally involved and used every ounce of his legal acumen to spearhead the township’s pursuit of the landlord and management company to compel the needed maintenance and repairs.
I have also seen Doug embrace the interests of the community when he organized and led discussions on ways to improve our dog park facilities. Have no doubt – people are really invested in their pets! Capably navigating the needs of the owners, the requirements of the town and budgetary constraints, Doug delivered an improved dog park at River Road Park that has been met with an overwhelmingly positive reaction.
Bedminster proudly stands at the front of the Somerset County line in creating “greenways” and open space. Doug shares that vision, and his passion for recreation has driven improvements in our parks, trails and open space areas, including the current upgrades at Pluckemin School House Park. Shovels are in the ground because Doug goes to bat time and again for all Bedminster constituents.
I have watched Doug speak with both knowledge and conviction as he has advocated for the town and its residents, be it on matters involving the police, public works or taxes, as well as issues faced by residents of The Hills, including pedestrian crosswalks and power problems. He is a true ally of all and an asset to the community at large.
Let me also share some insight into Doug’s running mate, Gina Fernandez. We all know her in town as the mom who, despite her crazy schedule, still manages to run school fund-raisers, volunteer tirelessly at PTO and HSA events and even lead a Girl Scout troop.
What you may not know about Gina is a bit of her back story. After reading a 2010 article in New Jersey Monthly magazine touting Bedminster, she moved here on a teacher’s salary, residing in affordable housing for six years before buying her current home.
In addition to working in the Union County school system, she has always had a passion for assisting underprivileged children, and has run outreach programs to provide these kids with a helping hand.
She has also served as a certified crisis intervention specialist, assisting folks in their most urgent time of need. At times, she has managed multiple jobs and worked in excess of 100 hours a week.
Her willingness to roll-up her sleeves for those in need is evident. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her energy is unbridled. She would be a welcome addition to the Bedminster Township Committee.
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, I urge my fellow residents to vote for the team that will truly be champions for Bedminster – Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez.
R. COLIN HICKEY
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