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Thank You

We’d like to express our deepest thanks and appreciation to everyone who voted for team Stevinson & Fernandez this year. We are both honored and privileged to have earned your trust and support to continue representing the Bedminster community on the Township Committee. We look forward to continuing to fight to keep Bedminster affordable while improving the quality of life for all of our residents.

Thank you again to all out there who played a role – large or small – in our re-election campaign. Whether you wrote a letter on our behalf, walked with us on the campaign trail, assisted with disseminating our materials, made a monetary contribution, or casted your vote for us, we sincerely thank you.

Doug & Gina

LETTER: Republicans Stevinson and Fernandez ‘work for every Bedminster resident’

TO THE EDITOR: As a current Bedminster Township Committee member, I whole-heartedly support the Republican candidates running in this year’s local election, Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez.

Committeewoman Fernandez uses the unique insights she has gained from teaching and aptly applies them to the municipal environment. For example, her perspective on setting expectations and enhancing student performance drove the development of new systems for hiring and maintaining Bedminster Township staff.

She is an adept organizer and planner – what teacher isn’t? – which enables her to continually help develop new programs in her capacity as Recreation Committee liaison. Our Fall Fest and Trunk or Treat events are just two in the list of many.

Stevinson, a lawyer by trade, uses his legal power to our advantage. At every meeting, he asks the right questions to make certain that each project is on budget, and he is always working to ensure that issues are treated consistently and equitably.

You can also see Doug’s coaching skills at work, providing constructive comments at the same time as giving support for each project we undertake. He does this for every pursuit – great or small, internal or external.

One of the issues the Township Committee has been working on over the past several years is maintaining compliance with our affordable housing obligations. As a former resident of Parkside, one of our affordable income neighborhoods, I appreciate that Doug and Gina support these programs completely.

Doug’s legal expertise has helped ensure that the existing program is self-sufficient and our newly mandated affordable housing requirements are properly fulfilled.

Gina, also an affordable housing beneficiary, is a strong advocate for the program, as it provided her with the initial opportunity to join our wonderful town. Now she is giving back to the community she loves and making sure that Bedminster provides the programs, facilities and services that make Bedminster an even more attractive place to live, work and play.

It is important that we have committee members who work for every Bedminster resident, which is what Doug and Gina do.

On Nov. 8, I ask that you join me in voting to reelect Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez to help keep Bedminster a safe and welcoming place for all.

RENEE MARESKI
Crestmont Road
Bedminster Township

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez ‘get results’ in Bedminster

TO THE EDITOR: I write in support of Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for Bedminster Township Committee.

We are fortunate to live in Bedminster, and both Doug and Gina are responsible for maintaining and improving this great community.

It is easy to take things for granted – low taxes, beautiful parks and open spaces, good zoning, well-maintained roads, responsive, and highly accessible, local government.

We need to remember we have these things because Doug and Gina and their colleagues on the Township Committee work hard for them.

Doug and Gina care and they get results.

Don’t take things for granted, vote for Doug and Gina on Nov. 8.

FINN CASPERSEN JR.
Old Farm Road
Bedminster Township

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

EDITORIAL: Our Municipal Endorsements

Voters in Bernardsville, Bernards Township and Bedminster will decide contests for municipal seats in the Nov. 8 general election.

In Bedminster, Republican incumbents Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez are seeking re-election to three-year terms.

They are challenged by Democrats Giuseppe Zaccagnini and Uttara Patla.

While we’d like to see a Democratic presence on the all-Republican committee to offer checks and balances, our endorsement goes to the team of Stevinson and Fernandez who have proven themselves to be hard-working, competent public officials.

Running for the second straight year, the Democrats say the committee fails to address the needs of residents of The Hills development. It’s an issue Democrats recycle nearly every election campaign – and it just doesn’t hold water this year. The committee has addressed several issues that directly affect residents of The Hills, such as power outages and efforts to improve internet services.

Stevinson, an attorney, and Fernandez, an educator, are also part of a team that has worked to ensure that AT&T remains in the township, albeit at a new location. The committee has also made some recreation improvements, established an excellent farmer’s market and received a grant to create a new community garden at River Road Park not far from The Hills.

The Democrats have had little presence at public committee meetings and have few legitimate issues in this race. On Nov. 8, Bedminster residents should re-elect Stevinson and Fernandez to the Township Committee.

Editor’s Note: The entire article with endorsements for neighboring towns appears in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Fernandez, Stevinson ‘delivering results’ for Bedminster’

TO THE EDITOR: I am writing to encourage your readers who live and vote in Bedminster to help re-elect Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez to the Bedminster Township Committee.

As a longtime resident and former mayor of Bedminster, I am grateful for Doug and Gina’s commitment to keeping Bedminster affordable, securing our community’s future and delivering results.

Never ones to sit on the sidelines, Doug and Gina’s service to Bedminster began years before they were elected to public office.

Doug previously served on the Bedminster Land Use Board, Recreation Committee and Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House. He was also a coach and past president of the Bedminster-Far Hills Little League.

Gina’s numerous volunteer activities include past leadership roles as Bedminster PTO vice president, PTO Spring Fling co-chair, Bernards High School Project Graduation chair and Girl Scout troop leader.

Through these prior positions, Doug and Gina honed their collective work ethic and built leadership skills that they successfully utilize in their present roles on the Bedminster Township Committee.

Doug is an attorney who ably applies his legal knowledge to all areas of Bedminster Township business. Doug’s expertise has been essential in enforcing zoning regulations to address unsightly structures, managing the capital program for roadway and trail maintenance and realizing efficiencies through shared services agreements.

A teacher by day, Gina is also the Bedminster Township Committee lead for human resources. Always task-oriented and driven to achieve great outcomes for our residents, Gina is focused on filling openings with qualified employees who look out for Bedminster residents with the same work ethic, dedication and compassion that she gives to her role on the Township Committee.

Doug and Gina and the rest of the Township Committee have a great track record as champions for Bedminster. The committee has reduced spending, improved municipal services and expanded recreational facilities and programs, while continually delivering budgets that keep Bedminster taxes among the lowest in Somerset County.

Whether voting by mail, during the early voting period or in person on Nov. 8, if you love Bedminster as much as I do, vote for Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for Bedminster Township Committee.

JOE METELSKI

Fairview Drive
Bedminster Township

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Bedminster committeeman backs Stevinson, Fernandez

TO THE EDITOR: Back in the day, I enjoyed reading William Safire from The New York Times, whose “On Language” column regularly critiqued the origins, uses and abuses of the English language.

In reading your most recent coverage of the upcoming Bedminster election, I was struck by the creative words used by the Democrat candidates to describe the sitting members of the Township Committee, of which I am one, and thought I’d respond by getting my inner-Safire on.

“When you have everyone on the same side, there’s a herd mentality that comes into play,” stated one challenger.

I would counter that the committee is all on the same side – the side of Bedminster residents! Be it keeping taxes low, advocating for improved infrastructure or expanding municipal services, you can rest assured we fight to protect the herd – our residents – by placing you atop the pack at every turn.

Without offering examples or specifics, the opposition cites a lack of “transparency” and “accountability” from the Township Committee. Although it is impossible to prove a negative, we all know that actions speak louder than words.

In that regard, the committee has significantly expanded access to government affairs. Notably, we rolled out an entirely new website that makes a wealth of information about municipal programs and services readily available. Residents can sign up for text, email or phone alerts, register for programs and pay their taxes all from the convenience of their homes. Meeting minutes, budgets, agendas and even newly digitized construction records are just a click away.

Residents, always welcome at committee meetings, now have the option to attend in person or online. If you can’t make a meeting, you can review the recording at your convenience.

To get the word out to residents interested in specific topics, we run special public meetings covering affordable housing, gas service, mental health awareness, recreational improvements and more.

Each committee member maintains a persistent presence on social media, where we regularly answer questions and address concerns posted by residents. These numerous examples of increased access and accountability flatly belie the attacks of the Democrat challengers.

“Arrogance” was another word leveled against the incumbents. The word comes from the Latin “arrogans” which means overbearing, often with pride. We do indeed take pride in our town and do not shy away from our love of Bedminster.

Nor will we apologize for the level of involvement, commitment and dedication we contribute to the community. This year’s campaign slogan, Champions for Bedminster, embodies the esteem that  Stevinson and Fernandez hold for our town and its residents. Whether it’s the new community garden, the return of our annual Fall Fest and trunk or treat events, a revamped Pluckemin School House Park or new recreational programs, Doug and Gina are constantly innovating to improve our residents’ quality of life.

The word “forgotten” was bandied about, almost as if they forgot what it means. The etymology of the word comes from old English, which immediately conjures up bad memories of reading Beowulf in freshman year. “Forgietan” meant a failure to recall or to neglect inadvertently, which the local Democrats have claimed the committee has done with The Hills.

Applying the language of mathematics, this is an absurd claim, as The Hills comprises over 60 percent of Bedminster’s total population. Any candidate would be foolish to ignore the majority of their constituents.

Also, four of our sitting members have lived in The Hills, one still does, and two got their start in Bedminster through our affordable housing program.

Perhaps the challengers have forgotten to read The Bernardsville News and its extensive coverage of the committee’s advocacy work that primarily assists The Hills. For example, this paper has frequently reported on the Altice project we are pursuing to upgrade The Hills cable infrastructure to fiber and our ongoing efforts with JCP&L to further reduce power outages in The Hills neighborhoods.

We on the committee have also championed infrastructure projects that positively impact The Hills, including roadway and signage improvements on Robertson Road and Routes 202/206, repaving of public roads within The Hills, street lighting replacement and expanding the bike and hike trail.

We work daily with property managers, board members and Hills residents to resolve issues and ensure everyone is treated as a valued customer.

In closing, one last word comes to mind – consistency, a word with Latin roots which originally implied “standing together.”

If you love living in Bedminster, I strongly encourage you to vote for the team that consistently demonstrates leadership and delivers strong results. Join me in voting on Nov. 8 to re-elect Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez to the Township Committee.

R. COLIN HICKEY

Bedminster Township
Committeeman

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

Democrats challenge GOP incumbents in Bedminster

BEDMINSTER TWP. – Having fallen short in their bid to unseat two Republican Township Committee incumbents last November, a pair of Democrats are giving it another try.

The Democrats, Uttara Patla and Giuseppe Zaccagnini, will be on the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election ballot for two, three-year committee terms. Their opponents this time are Republican incumbents Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez.

Last year, Patla and Zaccagnini lost to GOP incumbents Larry Jacobs and Renee Mareski by a margin of more than 3 to 2.  It was the Democratic Party’s tenth consecutive defeat for committee after scoring an upset victory back in 2011.

In separate phone interviews with the four candidates on Friday, Sept. 30, Patla and Zaccagnini took the Democratic Party’s traditional stance that the five-member, all-Republican governing body needs different voices and does not adequately address the needs of The Hills housing development, which comprises a majority of Bedminster’s population.

“When you have everyone on the same side, there’s a herd mentality that comes into play,” said Patla.

Stevinson and Fernandez rejected those charges and cited numerous committee actions that they said have benefited the greater community, including efforts that benefited The Hills in particular.

“Our message is positive,” said Stevinson.

Stevinson, 51, of Ski Hill Drive, is seeking his third, three-year term on the committee.  A township resident for 18 years, he is an attorney, specializing in commercial, real estate and financial litigation.

Fernandez, 42, of Deer Haven Road, is seeking her second, three-year term on the committee.  She has lived in town for 16 years, and is a teacher of elementary grades in Union Township.

Patla, 53, of Smoke Rise Drive in The Hills, is a native of India who has lived in town for 23 years.  She is a corporate communications professional for Prudential Financial.

Zaccagnini, 73, of Stone Run Road in The Hills, immigrated from Italy as a teenager to Peekskill, N.Y., and has lived in Bedminster since 2016.  He is a retired attorney and educator who has worked and lived overseas.

Accomplishments 

The Republicans each spoke about accomplishments and challenges.

Fernandez, noting that she once lived in income-restricted housing in The Hills, said her priority it is to “reduce spending and keep taxes low to keep Bedminster affordable.”

“The cost of living is a challenge everyone is facing,” she said.

Stevinson said the committee also “looks for opportunities to enhance the quality of life in Bedminster while keeping the cost as low as possible.”

An example, he said, is the effort to create a community garden at River Road Park.  He said the committee chose a location relatively close to The Hills because residents there have limited opportunities to do gardening.  This summer, the project was boosted by a $300,000 Somerset County grant.

Another effort was to address dilapidated buildings in the Pluckemin and Bedminster villages, Stevinson said.  The adoption of a stronger property maintenance code led the owners to remove those buildings, making the properties more marketable for redevelopment, he said.

Residents do have questions, he said, about an approved project on Burnt Mills Road that will add retail space and 160 housing units to help meet an affordable housing mandate.

He said the township “made the best of a situation we had to comply with” by getting the developer to fund needed traffic improvements at the intersection of Route 202/206 and Washington Valley/Burnt Mills Road.

Town hall staffing challenges were noted by Fernandez.

She said the committee hired a new township administrator and a new recreation director, and is now in the process of seeking a new police chief and a permanent public works manager.  Each vacancy was triggered by a retirement.

“We try to make sure they provide a certain level of customer service,” Fernandez said.

In terms of township activities, Fernandez said the Recreation Department has taken over the annual Fall Fest festival from the Seven Charities group, and has taken over the Halloween Trunk or Treat from the school district.

Stevinson, calling himself a “big-time recreation guy,” said the Pluckemin Schoolhouse Park facilities were recently improved to provide better basketball courts, more “usable grass” and potentially pickleball courts.

Fernandez also cited communications upgrades, saying that after the pandemic hit, the committee had the township create a resource guide providing information on recreation, health, finance and food resources.

Also adopted was the county’s Stigma Free Initiative, which led to another resource guide focusing on mental health resources, she said.

Checks And Balances

On the Democratic side, Zaccagnini suggested that the township purchase more open land if county funding is available.

But the challengers focused mainly on criticism of the committee.

“I think you need checks and balances – diverse points of view,” said Patla.

She said she perceived a “tone deafness” and lack of “transparency” on the committee and saw a need for “voices that can question things.”

“With consolidation comes arrogance,” Patla said.  “What I see is a lot of arrogance on that committee.”

Zaccagnini expressed a similar view, saying there is “a dire need in Bedminster to have some diversity represented on our Township Committee … making sure there is transparency and accountability in decisions that are made.”

Fernandez said she didn’t understand the transparency charge.

She said committee meetings allow viewing and commenting via Zoom and are videotaped; residents can subscribe to get township information emailed to them; the municipal web site has numerous links; and listings of township programs are enclosed in tax bills.

“The information is out there,” she said.  “We have gone over and above to get the word out and communicate.”

Stevinson said the question of political balance is determined by voters.

“What we do at the local level is not partisan,” he asserted.  “The only question we ask is, ‘Is it good for Bedminster or is it bad for Bedminster?’  I view myself as a public servant.”

Any notion of “the five of us on the Township Committee ramming down a Republican agenda” is not the case, he added.

Patla also said she would “love to see a representative of The Hills” on the committee.

When it was noted that Committeewoman Renee Mareski resides in The Hills, Patla replied that in the meetings she’s watched via Zoom, “I have not seen a lot of participation from Renee.”

She said she has not seen The Hills on meeting agendas, and she maintained that power outages in The Hills are longer than in other parts of town.

The committee “seems more aligned with the west side” of the township, she said.  “The Hills is a forgotten entity, in my opinion.”

Stevinson countered that Committeeman R. Colin Hickey has worked with Optimum Altice to bring Internet fiber connections to The Hills, which will increase speeds and better enable Hills residents to work from home.

“We pay particular attention to The Hills,” Stevinson said.  “You’ll find us predominantly walking in The Hills, finding out what’s going on.”

Fernandez said that in The Hills, management companies handle certain maintenance services and when those services aren’t delivered, some residents mistakenly fault the township.

“All services to the west side of the township are the same services we provide to The Hills except where we can’t overstep our bounds,” she said.

As they did in last year’s campaign, the Democrats criticized the committee over the past resale of income-restricted housing units, which allowed some rentals to lose their affordable status.

As a result, the committee in 2021 replaced the Bedminster Hills Housing Corp. (BHHC) – which for years handled low-cost home sales here – with CPG&H, LLC.

Patla also said the committee should do more to address maintenance problems at the privately owned Pluckemin Park senior citizens housing complex off Route 202-206.

Stevinson agreed that conditions at the complex are “unacceptable,” but said the township has succeeded in getting the property owner to fix some problems and will continue its efforts.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez have ‘championed quality of life’ in Bedminster

TO THE EDITOR: Politics is often dominated by what the big media tells us is important in Washington.

However, local government has a much greater effect on you and me. Local officials guide how your community works, your property taxes and your quality of life.

We are fortunate in Bedminster to have neighbor/leaders like Doug Stevinson, Gina Fernandez and our Township Committee to preserve what we love about our township and keep our community’s future bright.

Doug and Gina have championed quality of life enhancements while serving on our Township Committee. Most recently, after issuing a systematic survey to the residents to determine community needs, issues and priorities, they are working to create a community garden in Bedminster and the township has since secured funding to pay for it.

Gina and Doug are also working hard to improve our playgrounds and enhance our recreation programs.

Bedminster continues to guide smart development while protecting our open space. Dilapidated structures have been torn down and new buildings are coming in that meet community needs, satisfy state-mandated COAH requirements, and enable the business community to shoulder a greater portion of our property taxes.

The long-feared departure of AT&T from their Route 206 campus has been mitigated as our local leaders have encouraged them to move to the old Mallinckrodt complex – keeping Bedminster’s largest taxpayer in town.

Doug, Gina, and the Township Committee continue to help AT&T’s old property owner to find a new tenant that will add to our tax base and enhance our community.

Every vote counts. Whether you vote by mail, take advantage of early voting or come out on Nov. 8, please join me in re-electing Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for Bedminster Township Committee.

STEVE PARKER

Airport Road
Bedminster Township
The writer is a former Bedminster Mayor and Township Committeeman

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Bedminster incumbents ‘serve their neighbors’

TO THE EDITOR: Come Nov. 8, I will be voting for Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for the Bedminster Township Committee to help them continue making positive contributions to the great quality of life enjoyed by Bedminster residents.

I moved to Bedminster 30 years ago, attracted by the green spaces, the low taxes and its location. Over the years I have met many people who make the time to serve their community, whether on boards in The Hills, committees in the town or on the Township Committee.

Doug and Gina are such people. They, too, treasure what Bedminster has to offer and have worked hard to keep its strengths and meet the community’s needs. They do this by leveraging their skills and experience.

For Doug, that is ensuring he reads the fine print, considers all options and asks key questions to ensure the best outcome is reached.

For Gina the first question she always asks is, “What is best for all of the residents in Bedminster?” and then advocates for the solution that will best serve the residents rather than what is expedient or popular.

Doug is seeking a third term on the committee. During this time he helped us navigate through the uncertainty of the Covid pandemic ensuring no interruption in services.

He is the committee liaison to the police, fire and the public works departments, and his commitment to both the needs of those who serve, as well as those who are served, is always apparent.

Doug judiciously protects Bedminster’s future through optimal management of our affordable housing program and establishing reasonable zoning regulations to improve our community.

He also looks to grow recreation options through his championing of the dog park, hike and bike path extension, refurbishment of the Pluckemin Schoolhouse Park and obtaining grant funding for community garden construction.

Gina is seeking a second term on the Township Committee. During her time on the committee, her commitment to the people of Bedminster has never wavered.

In her role as the human resources liaison, she has ensured the best candidates for 12 township positions were identified and hired.

Gina is also the liaison to the Recreation Department and Recreation Advisory Committee, partnering to sponsor events such as the Halloween trunk-or-treat, free outdoor movie night and a relaunch of Fall Fest.

She joined forces with others in Somerset County to launch the Stamp out the Stigma initiative, taking the role of county liaison and Township Committee resource to make certain that our community is made aware of the numerous mental health services available to residents.

Bedminster is such a special place because of the people who look to serve the needs of their neighbors, both now and in the future, which is why Doug and Gina will be getting my vote.

Please consider doing the same on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

BARBARA BAUMANN
Wendover Court
The Hills
Bedminster Township

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez are ‘Champions for Bedminster’

TO THE EDITOR: This year’s contest for Bedminster Township Committee features two highly accomplished incumbents running for re-election, Committeeman Doug Stevinson and Committeewoman Gina Fernandez.

The hallmarks of serving the community are time and dedication, which these two candidates have demonstrated in abundance.

Now in his sixth year on the Township Committee, Doug previously served on the Bedminster Land Use Board, Recreation Committee, Bedminster-Far Hills Little League as former president, and Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House.

Gina, who is completing her first term on the Township Committee, has been a constant presence, volunteering for the Bedminster Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), vice president, the PTO Spring Fling, co-chair, Bernards High School Project Graduation, chair, and 12 years as a Girl Scout troop leader.

But the work doesn’t stop come Election Day – quite the opposite. I sit on many boards in Bedminster, including serving as the chair of the Land Use Board, president of my local condo association and treasurer of the Hills Village North Master Association. I can tell you from personal experience that the best board members are the busiest ones, and Doug and Gina are no exceptions.

When Doug saw blighted buildings in Pluckemin Village, he sprang into action, using his legal expertise to craft what is commonly referred to as a “zombie ordinance.” It essentially forces landowners to address derelict properties or face fines and potential condemnation.

That’s the reason those abandoned buildings on Route 206 were demolished, and the vacant house next to the Exxon station removed. Like many Hills residents, I can’t thank Doug enough for leading the efforts to eradicate those eyesores.

Doug has continued to advocate for all residents on a variety of complex issues, be it open space grants for our new community garden, affordable housing obligations or the capital investments necessary to maintain our extensive inventory of roadways and trails.

Never content to be on the sidelines, he is the quarterback that energizes the organization and consistently delivers results for team Bedminster.

Similarly, Gina, a teacher by trade, is all business.

She has overseen numerous staffing decisions following the retirement of several Bedminster institutions, including our clerk/administrator, DPW director and now our chief of police. In every instance, Gina’s steady hand and forthright approach have ensured continuity of services and no disruption to Bedminster residents.

Those who know Gina recognize the passion she brings to any project she takes on.

She’s the force behind Fall Fest, new Rec Department programs like trunk-or-treat and the township’s efforts to address mental health issues in concert with Communities in Crisis.

Her experience across a wide variety of disciplines and her infectious enthusiasm makes Gina the go-to person who simply gets things done.

On Nov. 8, I plan on voting for the team that are champions for Bedminster.

Please join me in re-electing Committeeman Doug Stevinson and Committeewoman Gina Fernandez to the Bedminster Township Committee.

CAROL GUTTSCHALL
Heatherwood Lane
Bedminster Township

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez put Bedminster residents first

TO THE EDITOR: Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez are eager to continue their roles on the Bedminster Township Committee.

Stepping up to the plate and taking action, they are not done building on initiatives yielding concrete outcomes. By pivoting to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, while keeping Bedminster’s agenda on track, they have proven they can lead under any circumstance.

Seeking a third term on the Township Committee, Doug will continue to emphasize the importance of the township managing the affordable housing requirements that impact the municipality. Local control through zoning and collaborating with potential developers will ensure Bedminster’s growth is not dictated through a court order or builder remedy.

He is cognizant of the impact on schools, roads, municipal services, retail, medical care, and law enforcement when Bedminster faces decisions on residential growth.

Working with the other Township Committee members and staff, Doug will continue to oversee parks and public facilities improvements, update employee personnel policies and make certain that at-risk seniors have safe living conditions.

As the committee liaison to the police, fire and public works departments, Doug will continue to negotiate fair contracts and ensure our residents are well protected.

Seeking a second term on the Township Committee, Gina’s positive contributions to the well-being of Bedminster residents are many.

Proud to serve as the human resource liaison, she executed new recruitment policies to hire the best candidates for 12 Bedminster Township senior positions, including township administrator, recreation director, finance lead and technical assistant to the construction official.

Gina works closely with these new hires, ensuring a strong partnership with the committee to implement operational efficiencies, fiscal responsibility and new community programs.

Gina, understanding the pandemic left many families with post-traumatic stress, volunteered to work directly with the Somerset County wide Stamp out the Stigma initiative.

She presented a plan to the Bedminster Board of Health that outlined ways to help minimize mental health stigma so families can access linkages and support.

The board agreed to champion the program with Gina serving as the county liaison and Township Committee resource. In this role, she will make certain that Bedminster residents are made aware of and have access to mental health services.

As the liaison with the Recreation Department and Recreation Advisory Committee, Gina is teaming with the new recreation director to sponsor community events, such as the Halloween trunk-or-treat, free outdoor movie nights and a refresh of the Fall Fest.

Together, Doug and Gina will adopt annual budgets below the rate of inflation, support commercial enterprises and equestrian activities to lessen residential tax burdens and negotiate new shared services arrangements to continue fiscal responsibility. They will put taxpayers first.

Doug and Gina are the real deal. They are inclusive, respect diversity and will represent everyone. Their eagerness to hear all residents’ needs, concerns and desires is sincere.

When Doug and Gina knock on doors, residents are delighted to learn that Gina is fluent in Spanish, and she is more than happy to translate for Doug.

I trust Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez to continue implementing initiatives that put the people of Bedminster first.

That’s why I’m voting for them; please do the same on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

ALICIA BERKOWITZ
Ashley Court
The Hills
Bedminster Township

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Re-elect Stevinson, Fernandez in Bedminster

TO THE EDITOR: Bedminster is fortunate to have two very qualified individuals running for re-election to our Township Committee this November, Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez.

Committeeman Stevinson is completing his second term in office and has served our community exceedingly well.

A strong advocate for recreation and open space, he championed the creation of the dog park at River Road Park, oversaw the expansion of the hike and bike path to Burnt Mills Park and spearheaded the refurbishment of Pluckemin Schoolhouse Park.

He has been instrumental in delivering budgets that keep Bedminster a leader in low municipal taxes.

His 15-plus years of voluntary service to the township have given him the leadership and experience to deal with the most complex aspects of municipal government, and he is viewed by colleagues and constituents alike as the “go-to guy.”

Doug’s community activism, however, extends well beyond the confines of Town Hall. “Coach Doug” has been a fixture both in the dugout and courtside, previously assisting our Little League baseball teams and now an integral part of our recreation basketball program.

Not to be outdone: If volunteerism had a face, her name would be Gina Fernandez.

A leader in our community, a teacher in Union Township and the mother of two, she does it all. Gina served as Bedminster PTO vice president and has co-chaired Spring Fling over multiple years, helping to raise over $100,000 for Bedminster School.

In 2018, she also ran Project Graduation, which coordinates multiple fundraisers and social events for the graduating class at Bernards High. In her spare time over the past 12 years, she has also served as a Girl Scout leader for the local troop here in Bedminster.

As a Township Committee member, Gina has been instrumental in handling many of the complex personnel issues involved in running a Township. As committee liaison to the Recreation Committee, Gina has overseen the revitalization of our parks and the relaunch of Fall Fest.

Working with the Board of Health, she has also championed the new “Stigma Free” mental health initiative here in town. This program was developed to encourage those whose mental health has suffered, particularly as a result of the stresses placed on many during the past two years, to seek assistance and no longer suffer in silence.

Doug and Gina’s enthusiasm for Bedminster is contagious – they truly love everything about our small town.

In November, I strongly encourage my fellow residents to re-elect Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez.

JAMES H. CHRISTIE
Fairview Drive
Bedminster

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

Memorial sought for Bedminster soldier killed in Vietnam

BEDMINSTER TWP. – It’s been 55 years since he was killed in action in the Vietnam War, but township resident Walter P. Miller Jr. could soon be getting a memorial in a very special place.

The topic arose at the Township Committee meeting on Tuesday, July 5, when Committeeman Doug Stevinson said Mr. Miller’s contemporaries had approached the township with the idea of a memorial in the soldier’s name outside of the municipal building on Miller Lane.

The Miller family, in fact, once owned “the land we’re sitting on,” Stevinson noted. He said the township’s Historic Preservation Commission suggested a bench that would be consistent with other memorials.

“It’s very appropriate,” he said. “I categorically support the notion.”

Because the proposed bench would be the first to be installed at the municipal campus and not in conjunction with the township’s hike-and-bike program, it would be appropriate to require a resolution from the committee, he added.

Mayor Larry Jacobs then asked Township Administrator Robin Ray to prepare a resolution for the committee’s next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, July 18.

Mr. Miller was born in Bedminster on Dec. 18, 1940, and died in Vietnam on March 2, 1967.

According to a front page story about his death in The Bernardsville News on March 9, 1967, Mr. Miller was a 1960 graduate of Bernards High School and was a member of the baseball team who continued to play in local baseball leagues after graduation.

He then worked for publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes of Bedminster as an estate caretaker and chauffeur. He was drafted into the Army in January 1966 and assigned to Vietnam the following September.

Mr. Miller became an Army specialist fourth class and was stationed with the 100th Engineer Company, doing floating bridge work in the Mekong Delta at the time he was killed.

“He is the first resident of a Somerset Hills municipality to be killed in the present war,” this newspaper reported.

A resident of Holland Road, he was survived by his wife Marilyn, his parents and two sisters. He was buried at the Bedminster Reformed Church Cemetery on Route 202.

His mother, Laura J. Beers Miller, died in November 1973 at age 57. His father, Walter P. Miller, died at his home on Somerville Road in March 1990 at 73.

The request for a memorial was spearheaded by one of Mr. Miller’s Bernards High classmates, Augustus Dante.

Dante, a Peapack native who now lives in Branchburg Township, was a year ahead of his friend, in the Class of 1959.

“He was a great guy, quiet,” Dante recalled in a phone interview on Saturday, July 9. “When he got killed, I thought, that was a guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly. You just couldn’t believe it.”

Dante himself served in the Army from 1962 to 1968 but was never sent to Vietnam. Still, he has been active with Rolling Thunder, a non-profit advocacy group devoted to helping and recognizing veterans while seeking full accountability for prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.

Back in 2015, he was part of the effort that led to the dedication of a Vietnam War Era memorial at Liberty Park in Peapack-Gladstone.

More recently, he turned his attention toward securing a local memorial for Mr. Miller. He said Mr. Miller’s sister Janet, who now lives in Warren County, has been very supportive.

A bench was ultimately proposed and would feature a marker noting Mr. Miller’s name, the fact that he was killed in action, and the dates of his birth and death. Dante said Rolling Thunder plans to fund the $1,100 or so needed.

If the committee proceeds to approve a resolution for the memorial, Dante said he would hope to have the bench installed around Veterans Day in November.

“I want people to recognize Walt as a hero,” he said. “A local hero from Bedminster, New Jersey., and schooled at Bernards High School and played baseball in Peapack. I don’t want people to forget it.”

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

Meet & Greet with Doug & Gina

PRESS RELEASE: Bedminster RMC Announces Stevinson and Fernandez as Candidates for Bedminster Township Committee in 2022

The Bedminster Republican Municipal Committee is proud to announce their candidates for the Bedminster Township Committee for 2022.  Township Committeeman, Doug Stevinson, is running for a third, three-year term.  Mr. Stevinson has made leadership and local control a guiding theme of his service on the Bedminster Township Committee.  He emphasized the importance of the township controlling the affordable housing requirements that still affect the municipality.  Local control through zoning and collaborating with potential developers will ensure Bedminster’s growth is not dictated though a court order.  Any new affordable housing must be integrated with and complement the surrounding community.  He pledged to represent the electorate by providing mature, practical leadership that ensures a high quality of life while keeping property taxes low.  Mr. Stevinson, his wife and Board of Education President, Suzie, and their three children live in the Ski Hill neighborhood.

Committeewoman Gina Fernandez is seeking her second term.  She is a proven leader on the Committee, where she has used her experience as a union member and manager in a family business to modernize the Township’s Human Relations program.  Gina is a teacher in Union Township, and the mother of three.  She and her husband, Gus, have been residents of the township since 2006, first residing in the Parkside neighborhood in the Hills before moving to Deer Haven Road.  Ms. Fernandez has also improved Bedminster’s Recreation program, working with the new Recreation Director to revive Fall Fest for 2022.  Founder of the Hispanic Heritage Club of Union NJ, Ms. Fernandez will continue her work to keep property taxes low, preserve open space, and uphold our tight-knit community.

Bedminster RMC Chair Steve Parker said, “We are proud to nominate two, mature leaders that bring Bedminster values and a record of accomplishment that will ensure the township returns to normalcy with a high quality of life and continued low taxes.  We have a good team to lead Bedminster into the future.”

The Republican Primary Election is June 7th.