LETTER: Hickey called ‘a proven leader’ in Bedminster

EDITOR: Certainly, we live in interesting times.

COVID-19 has upset many of the normal proceedings in our country, not the least of which is our process of electing our leadership at all levels of government.

I am not going to offer my opinion on the safety and accuracy of mail in ballots vs. the actual polls. However, I do feel that the worst thing any U.S. citizen can do is refrain from voting at all.

The second worst thing would be to blindly vote along party lines without considering the individual candidates running for office. Does that candidate have the integrity, experience and dedication to serve all constituents in the office that he/she was elected?

In Bedminster, the clear choice is Colin Hickey for Township Committee. Colin has served on the Bedminster Township Committee for over three years and has repeatedly gone above and beyond for all Bedminster residents.

Most recently, when many people were initially displaced from their jobs due to COVID and struggling to provide for their families, Colin initiated and manned the Bedminster pop-up food pantry, which provided food and other necessities for over 650 area families.

When Bedminster was experiencing frequent power outages over the past few years, Colin brought JCP&L representatives to the town to answer residents complaints and formed a working group with several of the homeowner associations in The Hills to develop system improvements and reduce the outages.

This year, Colin has been championing the fight against New Jersey American Water, which has filed to raise water rates. If left unchallenged, this would result in an almost $100 per year increase to the average user.

Colin is dedicated to this town and I invite all Bedminster residents to visit his website www.colinhickey.com, to learn more about him.

In closing, please carefully consider the candidates you are electing, especially at the local level. For a proven leader with integrity, please be sure to vote for Colin Hickey.

Bedminster Township

Note:  This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News on August 4, 2020.

Bernardsville News: Incumbent Hickey endorsed by Bedminster Republicans

BEDMINSTER TWP. – The Bedminster Republican Municipal Committee has endorsed incumbent Colin Hickey for Township Committee.

Hickey is running for his second, three-year term. He was first appointed to complete an unexpired term in 2017, and was then elected to a full term in November of that year.

A township resident for 28 years, first residing in Stone Run, he now lives in the Clucas Brook neighborhood with his wife, Wendy, and daughter, Taylor.

A businessman who specializes in start-ups and the tech sector, Hickey first served on the Environmental Commission, where he later became chairman. In 2017, he was named to an advisory panel convened to assist the Land Use Board with its master plan re-examination.

In a press release, the Republican Municipal Committee said Hickey “has been the voice for smart growth, advocating for initiatives that temper size and scale while improving ratables to keep property taxes low.

“He has teamed with Mayor Larry Jacobs to encourage AT&T’s long-term viability in Bedminster, while exploring potential alternatives to ensure the campus remains a vital technology hub,’’ it said. “He has worked tirelessly to make JCP&L more responsive to power outages in The Hills, and is now championing the recently formed Public Utilities Committee to improve service reliability and combat rate increases.’’

Hickey is the committee’s primary liaison to the township Board of Health, Board of Education and Recreation and Technology committees. He also serves on the Land Use Board.

“His constant attention to budget details underlies his ongoing efforts to make local government more efficient and responsive to the residents,’’ the press release said.

His campaign, it continues, “will focus on his passions – keeping Bedminster’s property taxes low, improving the community’s quality of life and making local government work for the taxpayers.’’

“Colin is uniquely qualified to lead Bedminster,’’ said RMC Chairman Steve Parker, a former township mayor. “His business acumen and dedication to the community will ensure that Bedminster continues to lead Somerset County in low taxes and a high quality of life.”

The five-member Township Committee is currently all Republican. The Democratic Party has yet to announce its candidate this year.

The primary election in New Jersey is on Tuesday, June 2.

This article originally appeared in the Bernardsville News on March 6, 2020.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Candidate Screening

The Bedminster Republican Municipal Committee will hold their primary candidate screening on February 26 at 6:30pm in the Clarence Dillon Public Library, Lamington Road and US Hwy 206. There is one seat on the Bedminster Township Committee for nomination for the 2020 general election. If interested in screening as a candidate or running for the 2020-2022 Republican Municipal Committee, contact Chairman Steve Parker at info@bedminstergop.org

LETTER: Bedminster mayor: Stevinson and Fernandez are ‘champions for our residents’

EDITOR: Good local government relies on great teamwork. In Bedminster, the proof of that is reflected in having the lowest tax rate in Somerset County, in the accolades that the town received from New Jersey Monthly and in the tremendous community pride that is shared by Bedminster residents.

The success that we experience is in large part due to the trust that the Township Committee members have in each other, even when we don’t always agree on specifics.

As a Committeeman, Doug Stevinson exhibits the same teamwork that he teaches as a youth basketball coach. Working with the other Township Committee members and staff, he has overseen the improvements to our parks and public facilities, restructured our employee personnel policies, assured that our contracts remain cost-effective and made certain that our at-risk seniors were being provided with safe living conditions.

Doug has been with me throughout this last year of police contract negotiations and his legal acumen was critical to Bedminster arriving at a fair disposition with our police. And, of course, budget season means all hands on deck, and that is when Doug is a fullthroated advocate for Bedminster taxpayers making sure our tax dollars are spent wisely.

Over the past several months, Gina Fernandez has attended Township Committee meetings taking notes and studying up on the issues, including the operation of the municipal budget.

Anyone familiar with Bedminster PTO’s Spring Fling can attest to her preparation, leadership and organizational skills. As a school teacher, she is certainly accustomed to preparing daily lesson plans and exhibiting subject matter expertise. I see that she is taking that same diligence as a candidate and I have no doubt she will do the same as a Bedminster Township Committeewoman. Fernandez has established her credentials as a strong team member and will be a terrific asset to the Township Committee.

In the coming years, the committee will again be faced with tough budget and contract negotiations. I hope that Bedminster voters will join me in voting Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for the Township Committee team. They are both champions for our residents who will work tirelessly to keep Bedminster the envy of Somerset County – low taxes, great services and an exceptional quality of life.

Bedminster Township

LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez ‘will put Bedminster taxpayers first’

EDITOR: Don’t you want someone to really listen to you, have your best interests at heart and be fully vested in the community in which you live?

I do, and the more I learned about, and have gotten to know, Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez, they are just that and exactly the right people to lead our wonderful town of Bedminster.

Serving in his third year on the Township Committee, Doug has helped reduced spending and delivered a budget, which has kept Bedminster taxes among the lowest in Somerset County. Two years ago, the budget remained flat with a zero tax increase from 2017 to 2018. This year, the total appropriations for 2019 decreased from 2018.

He is the committee liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission, police, fire and department of public works – well respected and has established relationships to get things done. Active in our community, having served on the Land Use Board, Recreational Committee, Far Hills Little League and Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, he brings insights to how the town operates and can negotiate and implement favorable policies for us.

Gina, bringing a fresh voice and a fresh perspective as an educator and public school volunteer, offers new and practical ideas from her proven leadership in fund-raising – raising over $100,000 for Bedminster School, teaching, community service and advocacy on behalf of parents.

She has done her homework on the budget and township regulations; she cares about the well-being of your children, serving parent teacher organizations and chair of Bernards High Project Graduation; and she brings passion to children’s causes. She founded an after school club, the Hispanic Heritage Club. Her energy is boundless and her commitment ongoing.

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.

They will enhance our quality of life by expanding recreational facilities, preserving Bedminister’s rural heritage, and advocating for the revitalization of Pluckemin Park. They plan to strengthen youth activities, co-sponsor educational community programs with Bedminster School and Environmental Commission, and reform land use regulations to encourage homeowner reinvestment, growth and prosperity.

I’ve joined them on neighborhood walks, and the eagerness to hear residents’ needs, concerns and desires is sincere. While walking in District 8, which is affordable housing, Gina conversed in Spanish with residents to ensure she and Doug heard their opinions. They are inclusive, respect diversity and will represent everyone.

I trust Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez to understand my needs and put all of the people of Bedminster first. That’s why I’m voting for them; please do the same on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The Hills
Bedminster Township

LETTER: Vote Republican for responsible government in Bedminster

EDITOR: The overwhelming burden of taxes is the greatest challenge to living in New Jersey, and the reason most of us know somebody who has left, or is planning to move out of the state. Property taxes are most often cited as the tipping point.

In Bedminster, we are fortunate to have among the lowest property taxes in the state. This does not happen by accident – it takes responsible government at both the municipality and the county.

Doug Stevinson continues to lead the Township Committee by pursing shared services and efficiencies. Doug negotiated the most recent police contract that is both fair to the union and provides budget stability for the coming years. The police department constitutes the largest line item in Bedminster’s budget.

While fighting for the taxpayers, he still championed quality of life improvements for the community like the dog park on River Road.

Gina Fernandez will bring the innovation of a tireless community volunteer. She ran our local Girl Scout Troop, co-chaired the Bedminster PTO Spring Fling fund-raiser, and Bernards High School “Project Graduation.”

If you have children in Bedminster, you likely already have been touched by Gina’s caring leadership. She has a strong record of doing “more with less” and will bring those skills to the Township Committee.

Your property tax bill would be out of control without the Somerset County Freeholder Board keeping a lid on their budget. Pat Walsh has served as a freeholder for 12 years. In that time the county budget has remained stable; even cut taxes in recent years.

Somerset County continues to have a Triple A bond rating and quality services due to Pat Walsh’s leadership.

Bill Parenti, North Plainfield’s police chief, is running for Somerset County sheriff. He puts public safety as job one, but pledged to run a lean Sheriff’s Department that will work more closely with municipal police departments to save each township department costs.

Bill has programs to fight the opioid epidemic that have already been adopted by retiring Sheriff Frank Provenzano and praised by his opponent. Parenti is uniquely qualified to serve Somerset County well as our next sheriff.

I was heartened to read your recent article profiling the Township Committee candidates. In it they all agreed that the committee has done a good job managing the budget and they appreciate our lower taxes.

Budget responsibility is all too rare in government these days – look no further than Trenton and Washington – we need to keep Bedminster on the right track.

Please join me in voting for Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for Bedminster Township Committee, along with Pat Walsh for Somerset County Freeholder and Bill Parenti for Sheriff on Nov. 5.

Airport Road
Bedminster Township
Editor’s note: The writer is a former Bedminster Township mayor.

LETTER: Vote to keep Bedminster affordable

EDITOR: Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez are the natural choices for Bedminster Township Committee. Conservative values and traditions of low taxes and less government have made Bedminster an idyllic and affordable refuge in an environment of high real estate taxes.

Doug has a long record of active service to the community in a wide range of involvements including serving on the Open Space Committee and the Land Use Board.

Additional volunteer roles reflect his passion for recreation – coach, past president of the local Little League, and a former Recreation board member.

As a member of the Township Committee, Doug advocates for the residents of Bedminster. He is helping those who live in Pluckemin Park prompt their landlord to make overdue improvements and helped Hills residents by adding crosswalks to improve safety.

Throughout the township, he supports increased investments by JCP&L in infrastructure upgrades to reduce power outages.

Doug’s commitments to lowering taxes, seeking support from the county and state, and exploring shared services opportunities are important to keeping Bedminster affordable. His consistent dedication continues to make Bedminster a great place to live and raise a family.

Gina also has a record of active involvement as a Girl Scout leader, Bedminster Parent and Teachers Organization board member, and Bernards High School Project Graduation steering committee member. In each of these community service roles, she raised huge sums to enhance the educational and extracurricular experience for students.

With experience as an educator, translator, community leader and parent, Gina is a strong advocate for families and our schools.

On Nov. 5, I encourage you to vote for Doug and Gina – the team committed to fiscal austerity and preserving our low tax rates – for Bedminster Township Committee.


LETTER: Republican candidates ‘listening to needs of The Hills

EDITOR: I have lived in Bedminster, specifically The Hills, for 17 years, and spent most of that as a board member for both my neighborhood and the master association here, and the last eight years volunteering on township boards.

In that time I have had a chance to see that not only is Bedminster a great place to live, but also is well run, and on a low tax budget. In addition, our local government has proven tirelessly and many times to be responsive to our community.

Over the last few years, the Hills master associations have invited Township Committee members to attend their meetings to answer questions and update residents on what’s happening in town. Current Committeeman and candidate Doug Stevinson has fulfilled this role many times.

He and other committee members have also been instrumental in helping The Hills neighborhoods and other parts of the township address frequent power failures in recent years. This has been achieved by working with the local power utility (JCPL) to repair aging equipment and streamline the outage alert notices. JCPL, township and community leaders meet periodically throughout the year to monitor progress and keep things moving.

Doug has also been a big part of helping parts of The Hills with crosswalk installations and street light repairs on township roads feeding The Hills.

Like Doug Stevinson, Gina Fernandez comes to the plate with a similar devotion and years of volunteering for our township. This devotion has proven to benefit Bedminster in every instance. I feel that Gina will be a great asset to the committee.

Both candidates are listening to the needs of The Hills, the largest part of Bedminster’s population.

Both candidates also bring a wealth of experience with our local school and will work hard with the board of education to provide our school students with the best education possible, and do so with our continued low property taxes.

That is why I am voting Stevinson and Fernandez for Bedminster Township Committee on Nov. 5, and encourage Bedminster residents to do likewise. All residents, please remember to vote!


LETTER: Stevinson/Fernandez team ‘right choice for Bedminster’

EDITOR: The women and men on the Bedminster Township Committee are well-known for taking great care of our town – keeping our taxes low, increasing open space, advocating for all residents, and volunteering their personal time to support township activities.

With Committeewoman Staci Santucci deciding not to run this year, it’s great to know that another accomplished woman has stepped up to ably fill her shoes.

Gina Fernandez is an experienced community leader who has devoted countless hours to raising funds to support programs that benefit the student body at the Bedminster Elementary School and Bernards High School. The excellent organizational skills and strong work ethic that Gina already exhibits as a teacher, a mom, and a chronic volunteer are well-suited to the demanding role of Bedminster Township committee member.

As the mother of a student at the Bedminster School whose daughter was in Gina’s Girl Scout troop for many years, it has been my good fortune to be an eyewitness to Gina’s tireless dedication to every project she takes on.

Gina’s running mate, Doug Stevinson, is seeking re-election to a second term on the Township Committee.

Over the past three years, Doug has accomplished much for the residents of Bedminster: Extended the hike and bike path, created the dog park at River Road Park, and helped Hills residents gain crosswalks for safety and a commitment from JCP&L to repair infrastructure and reduce power outages.

During his second term, Doug plans to continue to expand our trail systems through open space initiatives, renovate parks throughout the township, and seek out shared service arrangements that benefit residents and make fiscal sense.

The team of Stevinson/Fernandez is the right choice for Bedminster. They will work on your behalf to continue the efforts of the Township Committee to improve the quality of life for all.

On Nov. 5, please cast your votes for Doug and Gina, champions for Bedminster.


LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez ‘champions for Bedminster’

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.