LETTER: Bedminster Democrats told ‘do your homework’

TO THE EDITOR: to be blatantly honest, I’m kind of sick of politics.

As an individual involved in local government, that might come as a surprise. Unlike Washington D.C., we have something unique here in Bedminster, a functional government that puts the people first, not the party or politics.

We’re all volunteers, after all, just doing our part to better the community we know and love.

However, when I see uninformed attacks from the other side of the aisle, I wonder if it’s just a ploy to distract from a lack of involvement and no real platform on their end.

Most recently, the Mayor and Township Committee have been accused by the Bedminster Democrats of not properly administering the affordable housing program. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Democrats, having aligned themselves with a real estate agent interested in gaming the system to his advantage, have based their assertions on hearsay and secondhand information instead of facts. Like I teach my students, an argument without accuracy, validity and evidentiary support will leave one believing in logical fallacies. I can think of no better example than these affordable housing allegations.

You see, I am proud to say I got my start here through the Bedminster affordable housing program, as did my colleague, Committeewoman Renee Mareski. It afforded both of us a chance to be part of this incredible community, and was a first step into home ownership that we otherwise may have not been able to attain.

I am forever grateful for this opportunity, and I wish nothing more than to provide this opportunity to future generations to come, as is the purpose and intention of the affordable housing program, both here in Bedminster and throughout the state.

Like any institution, there are always opportunities for improvement. Last year, Mayor Jacobs and the committee took action to replace the current administrative agent with a professional services organization that has a long history and proven track record of managing affordable housing programs throughout the state.

Imagine my surprise when we were suddenly criticized for making a substantive improvement to an underwhelming and underperforming program.

But as the story unfolded, I came to realize that the objections were coming not from those who wanted to part of the affordable housing program, nor from those who have been part of the affordable housing program, but rather from those who were looking to take advantage of the program and didn’t get their way.

As a teacher, I have rules in my classroom. No cheating. Take turns. No cutting in line. These rules are there for a reason – so that every one of my students has a chance to participate fairly and equally.

The same should hold true for the affordable housing program. Apparently, that’s not what the opposition supports.

Most recently, the committee, in response to new state requirements mandating additional affordable housing beyond what previously and currently exists, zoned for newly required affordable rental units. We did it in a thoughtful way, integrating the units within the community, just as The Hills did 40 years ago.

We accomplished this without spending taxpayer money or depleting the existing funds that sustain our current affordable housing program. Those funds are there to help individual homeowners make improvements, provide down payment assistance and maintain the program going forward. The program is administered by our new professional affordable housing agent with input from our new Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.

We’ve set up the program for the inclusion of the next generation of individuals who want a chance to join our community through the affordable housing path. It’s called equity. I, and the rest of the Township Committee, are proud to have preserved the program and ensure its viability for years to come.

Anyone who knows me can attest that I am a planner and a doer. I have never been, and will never be, content to sit on the sidelines.

I’m dismayed when individuals who aren’t even involved take cheap shots and cry foul play for personal or political gain. “Do your homework” not only applies in my classroom, but it’s a lesson for real life as well.

I know who’s done the work, put in the time and has their facts straight. On Nov. 2, I’ll confidently be voting for Larry Jacobs and Renee Mareski for Bedminster Township Committee, and I encourage you to do the same.

Deer Haven Road
Bedminster Township

Editor’s note: The writer, a Republican, is a member of the Bedminster Township Committee. This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

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