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LETTER: Hickey’s ‘performance speaks for itself’ in Bedminster

EDITOR: I have been lucky enough to call Colin Hickey my neighbor since moving to Bedminster and here is why I will be voting for him for a second term on the Bedminster Township Committee.

In the three years that he has served thus far, Colin has been a strong advocate for Bedminster, and has clearly demonstrated that he is here to serve the residents of our community. It is clear that he understands the job.

First and foremost, Colin always considers the needs of Bedminster residents, and is not distracted by the national political stage. In a world where politics are dividing our country, Colin has never cared about what party the residents are affiliated with. Instead, he continually focuses on how to best help his community.

As a member of the Township Committee, Colin helps bring about great activities and services that benefit the public. Colin’s lengthy record of service for Bedminster includes the establishment of new environmental and recreation programs, the latest being Family Movie Night.

He also serves as the township liaison to the Board of Education. This requires hours of dedication, commitment, and hard work, all of which Colin delivers.

Colin’s business credentials have enabled him to shepherd the adoption of new technology to improve municipal services. During his tenure, the township website has been revamped, tax payments have gone online, social media is now used to promote municipal programs and respond to resident inquiries, online survey tools are used to solicit feedback, and public meetings are now accessible and recorded via Zoom.

Colin regularly monitors social media and responds consistently to residents’ concerns and questions.

He has been instrumental in helping our residents find their voice when dealing with JCP&L power outages, driving the utility to make much needed infrastructure improvements.

He has been at the forefront of fighting New Jersey American Water’s proposed rate increase. Rather than leave residents to fend for themselves, Colin understands that his job is to advocate on their behalf.

Colin is a devoted volunteer and can be found dedicating his Saturdays working at the Bedminster Farmers Market.

When the pandemic started, Colin created the Bedminster Food Pantry, which he created to help the food challenged in our community. He was there every morning receiving donations with a smile on his face, and he then worked tirelessly to sort and organize the donations for pickup. No matter the cause, he is always eager to do more.

I don’t vote down the party line when it comes to elections. Rather, I look at the individual, and vote on performance, not promises. Colin’s performance speaks for itself.

Public servants are accountable to the citizens who choose to employ them. Colin takes this responsibility seriously. Please help make certain that Colin is able to continue his good work.

Vote Colin Hickey for Bedminster Township Committee.

Bedminster Township

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

Bedminster pressing to defeat proposed water fee hike

September 30, 2020

BEDMINSTER TWP. – Having spearheaded a multi-town fight against a proposed rate increase by New Jersey American Water (NJAW), township officials remain hopeful that the hike will be scuttled.

After negotiations failed to produce a settlement, hearings on the proposal began Monday, Sept. 21, before the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU), which will decide the matter.

The status was reported at the Township Committee meeting on Sept. 21. Committeeman R. Colin Hickey noted that NJAW had been granted rate increases in 2015 and 2018, so the increase would be the third in five years.

“I think the work that we have championed and the investment we have made in this is right because left unchecked, New Jersey American would just continue to hike rates and our residents would suffer and suffer tremendously,” Hickey said.

The impact “could be up to $100 per year and that’s every year,” he added.

The case was also discussed at the Peapack-Gladstone Borough Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

“What the public should know,” said Acting Borough Administrator Randy Bahr, “is that New Jersey American Water is seeking double-digit increases within the next 18 months, in the midst of a pandemic when there have been a lot of lost wages, a lot of lost jobs.”

The consortium’s legal team “feels they have New Jersey American a little scared,” Bahr added. “We’re hoping to come to some sort of settlement.”

In the meantime, the participating towns plan to issue a press release, he said. “I don’t think the public is aware New Jersey American is seeking this kind of increase.”

NJAW, the largest water utility in the state, filed a proposal last December that would increase its annual revenue by $87.7 million. The utility said its rate request was based on “the significant investment the company has made or will make into its water and wastewater infrastructure.”

The Bedminster Township Committee launched a fight against the proposal on Jan. 27, when it hired a law firm and a public utility analyst. Township officials said that while NJAW put the proposed rate increase at 11 percent, the cost-per-gallon hike would amount to 28 percent.

Attorney William K. Mosca of the Bevan, Mosca, Giuditta and Zarillo law firm of Basking Ridge was hired as legal counsel for a fee not to exceed $25,000. Exeter Associates of Columbia, Md., an economic expert in the specialized field of public utility analysis, was also hired at a fee not to exceed $10,000.

Bedminster then asked other towns to collectively join as interveners and help pay the costs. Through early July, it received formal commitments from Bernardsville, Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone, Bridgewater Township, Raritan Township and Raritan Borough.

By Aug. 17, the legal fees had grown to $69,000.

Also expressing interest in joining the consortium were Bernards Township, Branchburg Township and Hillsborough Township.

But at the Sept. 8 committee meeting, Bedminster Township Administrator Judith Sullivan said the three towns had chosen not to participate.

Bernards Township Mayor James Baldassare Jr., in an email response to this newspaper on Friday, Sept. 25, said that “after careful consideration and deliberation, the Township Committee felt it was in the township’s best interests to forego this litigation and instead use established channels” such as the ratepayer advocate office.

Baldassare said that while he didn’t recall a specific dollar amount to join the consortium, “I believe that it was based off of the number of meters which would have resulted in a significant portion.”

Bernards Township would have been the consortium’s second most populous member after Bridgewater Township.

“Added to this is the fact that this litigation is open ended and litigation costs could have easily gone up exponentially as time goes by for this statewide rate increase,” Baldassare said.

An initial discussion between consortium and NJAW representatives was held in June but failed to produce any movement, according to Bedminster officials.

At the committee’s Sept. 21 meeting, Hickey denounced the utility’s quest.

“Frankly, this is a blatant attempt by New Jersey American Water to serve their stockholders as opposed to the ratepayers,” he said.

He noted that the utility’s literature boasted that NJAW had a 27 percent rate of return on investments, which was seven points higher than the industry average; and over-performed on the stock market by producing a 152 percent stock price increase over the last five years.

“So they’re getting their returns on the backs of ratepayers,” Hickey argued. He said Bedminster is pushing for no increase in the rate.

“Our testimony and our economic analysis has had a tremendous impact on these proceedings,” he said. “We’ve convinced the company to lower their demands significantly.”

Mayor Larry Jacobs said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on jobs and wages convinced township officials to “pull back” and rework the 2020 municipal budget in February. He said one might have thought the pandemic would make a utility “more circumspect and judicious” in reviewing a proposed rate increase, but NJAW “did not pull back.”

Jacobs said that while he meant no offense to the ratepayer advocate, he had been informed that “the research our attorneys and our economic advisor provided – they’re leading the way.” He said that at the initial hearing, the NJAW president was cross-examined exclusively by the consortium attorney.

“So these few towns,” he added, “that got together to challenge this increase will hopefully have profound impact for the towns involved and maybe with the rest of New Jersey who are New Jersey American Water customers.”

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

LETTER: Hickey ‘checks all the boxes’ in Bedminster

September 25, 2020

EDITOR: In what may be the final act to close out a brutally difficult 2020, it may take weeks to call some of the races in this year’s elections.

To my fellow Bedminster friends and neighbors, I ask for your support to ensure we re-elect Colin Hickey to the Township Committee. It has been nothing short of a privilege to serve with Colin over the past four plus years. I enthusiastically endorse and support Colin’s campaign and candidacy and hope you will do the same.

Colin checks all the boxes one would want from his or her local elected official. He is involved and dedicated. You’ve likely received that much needed update from Colin over social media concerning events in town.

Or perhaps you’ve run into him on Saturdays helping out at our Farmers Market. During our shelter at home directive this past Spring, Colin was at Town Hall daily, accepting and processing community donations for our Bedminster Food Pantry.

Colin gets results. In addition to performing his liaison duties with the Board of Education, Land Use Board, Recreation Committee and Environmental Commission, Colin willingly stepped to the front lines on behalf of all Bedminster residents serviced by New Jersey American Water this past year to challenge the water company’s rate increase application. Colin’s efforts led to a shared service arrangement between Bedminster and numerous other municipalities to challenge the water company’s application, enabling us to significantly offset our costs and expenses.

Colin also took the lead with interfacing with JCP&L over the frequent power outages in town. I witnessed him effectively broker tri-party discussions with JCP&L representatives and various community members.

While power outages remain a work in progress, Colin’s efforts to date have resulted in tangible enhancements and improvements to JCP&L’s electrical infrastructure servicing our community.

We on the Township Committee are proud of Bedminster’s ranking last year as the No. 3 town to reside in New Jersey. I’m here to confirm that Colin Hickey played his part in helping us achieve that lofty status.

Colin deserves another three years so please join me in voting for and re-electing him to the committee this fall. Thank you.

Bedminster Township

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

LETTER: Hickey ‘has earned your vote’ in Bedminster

September 21, 2020

EDITOR: It’s not about which party can get their candidate elected, it’s about which public servant should be elected to get the job done.

As he has proven over the last three years, Bedminster Township Committeeman Colin Hickey is that person. Motivated by a desire to serve the public, Colin adeptly represents our residents by taking seriously both the fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers and the delivery of outstanding community services.

Colin has been a great supporter of our local businesses. When our local restaurants had to close their doors, he wholeheartedly supported the special permits that were issued to allow restaurants to have outdoor seating, helping to keep these businesses alive.

Colin also understands that our residents need to stay physically and emotionally fit. To that end, he has been key in keeping our parks open for recreation and establishing new rules that allow the Farmers Market to continue in its third successful year.

Though it seems so long ago, Colin was instrumental in establishing our food bank to make sure that everyone who needed a meal would have one.

The Township Committee dedicates many hours to making our tax dollars work as hard as they can. Colin’s background in business start-ups gives him the skills to look at our town budget to see where it’s necessary to invest our tax dollars and where we should be frugal with them.

It’s all connected – healthy residents, healthy businesses and a healthy town budget. For the past three years, Colin has been getting the job done. He has earned your vote.

Join me in voting to re-elect Colin Hickey to the Bedminster Township Committee so that he can continue to work on your behalf.

Crestmont Road
Bedminster Township

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

LETTER: Hickey ‘takes his service seriously’ in Bedminster

September 17, 2020

EDITOR: I served as mayor when Colin Hickey joined the Bedminster Township Committee, and every year our first job is to tackle the upcoming year’s budget.

This is a complicated task that sets the priorities for the municipality and determines, in large part, your property tax bill.

During Colin’s first budget, he commented to the rest of the committee, that it was important “that we spend the taxpayer’s money like we spend our own money, carefully and thoughtfully.” That made a complex task much easier with those guiding words and leadership.

If you remember nothing else about Colin this election cycle, you should know how seriously he takes his service to you and your hard-earned tax dollars.

I will be voting for Colin Hickey this fall for Bedminster Township Committee and I urge you to do the same.

When you get your ballot, fill it out, drop it off in the ballot drop box at Bedminster Town Hall, the Board of Elections in Somerville or by mail.

Airport Road
Bedminster Township

This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Colin Hickey is ‘there for Bedminster’

September 17, 2020

EDITOR: During his tenure on the Bedminster Township Committee, Colin Hickey has shown by his actions that he will go to bat for Bedminster residents to protect their quality of life.

When complaints about the frequent and long-lasting power outages in Bedminster Township, particularly in The Hills, fell on deaf ears at JCP&L, Colin teamed with the home owners associations to reach out to the utility.

Collectively, this ad hoc committee invited the utility to appear at a Bedminster Township Committee meeting to hear public comments and answer questions. What began as a contentious discussion ultimately resulted in multiple technology upgrades that dramatically reduced the frequency and duration of power outages.

Another positive outcome is that Colin got JCP&L to agree to provide regular updates to the Bedminster Township Committee on ongoing technology improvements and their impact on power availability. Then tropical storm Isaias struck, causing widespread and long-lasting power outages that exposed several systemic issues – lack of maintenance spares, lapses in tree trimming, rotted poles, and more.

Throughout the power outage, direct updates from the power company were infrequent and inaccurate. Colin jumped in and communicated with JCP&L and kept residents informed of JCP&L’s progress and the Estimated Time to Restoration for each neighborhood.

On Aug. 27 at about 9:30 a.m., a vehicle hit a pole, again knocking out power to the same areas of Bedminster that were knocked out by Isaias. This outage was repaired quickly, but it was Colin who reached out to JCP&L for info and he relayed it to everyone in town.

In addition to successfully intervening with JCP&L, Colin continued to work with all utilities that serve Bedminster, and also the state Board of Public Utilities, to keep rate increases in check.

His focus on quality of life issues extends beyond public utility services.

He was also instrumental in the pop-up food pantry that ran during the Covid lockdown. Colin is definitely looking out for Bedminster residents tirelessly.

It is for these reasons, and many more, that I will be voting for Colin in November for re-election to Bedminster Township Committee.

Bedminster Township

This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Hickey demonstrates ‘persistent advocacy’ for Bedminster

September 16, 2020

EDITOR: As chair of the Environmental Commission and a resident of The Hills for 21 years, I can attest that Colin Hickey, during his three years serving on The Township Committee, has established himself as an advocate for Bedminster residents whose individual voices were not being heard.

When residents shared their frustrations with public utilities and cable companies, Colin interceded to pursue quality services at fair rates for all.

In response to the notice of a substantial rate increase by New Jersey American Water, Colin Hickey analyzed the impact to ratepayers and organized a group of municipalities to collectively push back against the usurious rate inflation.

For many years, JCP&L seemed to ignore complaints about repeated power outages. Colin joined forces with the homeowner associations in The Hills to command the attention of JCP&L and to compel the company to upgrade their equipment.

Similarly, when the social media outcry against cable provider Altice showed increasing frustration with no satisfaction, Colin reached out to the company expressing his surprise at their silence and indicated that he had no choice but to educate our residents about the options that are on the horizon for them with emerging competition from streaming content services and 5G wireless broadband.

As chair of the Environmental Commission I worked closely with Colin. This has given me insight, not only to the inner workings of local government, but the man.

The same high standards and strong core values Colin practices in his personal life are the same qualities he is committed to and demonstrates with the township and the residents he serves. Colin’s strong and persistent advocacy has already yielded improvements, yet there is much more work to be done. Colin is the right person to continue these efforts!

Therefore, This November, I strongly urge my fellow residents to re-elect Colin Hickey to the Township Committee where I know he will continue to make local government work for Bedminster residents and businesses.

Bedminster Township

This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Hickey brings ‘knowledge, dedication and skill’ to Bedminster

Sep 14, 2020

EDITOR: Bedminster is truly special and unique with its rural character and charm, low taxes and high quality of life.

But to attain and maintain what has become the standard in Bedminster takes skill, dedication, knowledge and experience. Along with Mayor Larry Jacobs and the Township Committee, Committeeman Colin Hickey has proven his keen ability to continue to successfully and conscientiously represent Bedminster.

I have had the pleasure of serving with Colin and he truly cares about Bedminster and its residents. Colin rises to any challenge, working hard each day to serve Bedminster and all of its residents. Colin meets each of these challenges with enthusiasm, and often a sense of humor.

Quick witted and understanding, he is able to form the relationships necessary across our communities to share ideas and efforts. Colin is a team player, but also always willing to work independently with a resident to help solve issues that may arise.

He has been a devoted resident for many years, volunteering for Bedminster as well as serving as your committeeman. He is fiscally conservative and responsible, always looking for creative ways to save taxpayer dollars.

The yearly budget process is very detailed and during this process and all year long, Colin applies his sharp business acumen to be sure to analyze expenditures and always searching for a way to keep spending low, but also to be sure to preserve the very valued and important services for Bedminster residents.

This year certainly has been a challenging one, but Colin, along with Mayor Jacobs and the committee, has worked extremely hard to protect the residents and to keep Bedminster the special and unique place that it is.

On Nov. 3 to ensure the continued success of Bedminster, please vote to re-elect Committeeman Colin Hickey for his tried and true experience, knowledge, dedication and skill.

Bedminster Township

This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Colin Hickey is ‘all in’ for Bedminster

September 14, 2020

EDITOR: This fall, I look forward to voting to re-elect Colin Hickey to the Bedminster Township Committee. 

During the past year – my first on the Township Committee – I have had the privilege of working alongside Colin and observing how he ably represents and serves Bedminster residents. Colin shows by his example that the role of Township Committee member goes far beyond attending Monday night meetings.

Evidence of Colin’s dedication and commitment is clear by the hours that he spends supporting our residents. Every day of each week, Colin rolls up his sleeves to help bring about great activities, e.g., family movie night, and services such as online tax payment options for Bedminster residents to enjoy.

From organizing and staffing the Bedminster pop-up food pantry five days a week for 10 weeks to directing traffic on Saturdays at the farmers’ market, to serving on the Land Use Board and as the Township Committee liaison to the recreation board and multiple committees, Colin is “all in.”

On an ongoing basis, when residents reach out with concerns and questions on a variety of topics such as COVID-19 testing, power outages or vote-by-mail instructions, Colin researches and publishes the answers for all to see.

To make certain that all of this important information reaches as many people as possible, Colin widely shares information via social media, the township website, fliers and public meetings. Of course, the Monday evening Bedminster Township Committee meetings are where we conduct official township business.

Colin’s professionalism, business savvy and comprehension of sensitive and complex topics result in a fair assessment of each decision that we face. His thoughtful and balanced viewpoints show that he is always looking out for the best interests of Bedminster residents.

We all win when local government works for you. I encourage you to join me in voting for Colin Hickey, an experienced leader with a stellar track record of serving Bedminster residents, for Township Committee.

Bedminster Township

This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Colin Hickey Has Earned My Vote in Bedminster

September 9, 2020

Federal election campaigns often dominate major headlines. Yet, flying under the radar, many local races can shape the outcome of important decisions made closer to home. In Bedminster Township, Colin Hickey’s re-election to Township Committee is good for the town and residents.

Colin Hickey has earned my vote.

What impresses me most is his dedication to the community. When the COVID lockdown struck Bedminster, Colin created the Pop-Up food pantry at town hall and was among those who manned it daily for ten weeks. This food pantry directly helped hundreds of families in a time of need. You’ll also see him volunteering his Saturdays at the Farmers Market directing traffic.

At town hall, he’s a leading advocate for residents. When he chaired the Environmental Commission, his business-minded approach was clear. More recently, as a Township Committeeman, Colin has helped maintain the town’s low tax rates and promoted the best interests of residents. Specifically, he has resisted efforts by the local water utility to raise prices, addressed persistent power outages, helped control engine braking noise on Route 206, and introduced measures to streamline some of the town’s operations (website design, tax collection, recreational facilities, etc). As co-author of the town’s current Master Plan Report, Colin showed he’s not afraid of detailed work and gained notable insight into township activities.  In short, he holds himself accountable, focuses on doing what’s right for residents and fights for a healthy and safe Bedminster.  

Experience and dedication are a winning combination. In Colin’s case, that’s true in spades. Colin Hickey has made a tangible difference to Bedminster’s residents. At a time when partisan federal politics can be polarizing, it’s refreshing to see a local candidate who’s right for ALL residents.  

To me, the choice is clear: vote to re-elect Colin Hickey to the Township Committee.

John B. Coates
Bedminster Township

This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in TAPinto Somerset Hills.