Editor's Note: Five Woodbridge council seats are up for election on Nov. 5.
Ward 1, Democrat newcomer Nancy J. Drumm faces Republican newcomer John Vrtaric.
In Ward 2, Republican newcomer Margaret "Peg" LaTorre has challenged incumbent Democrat Richard Dalina.
In Ward 3, Democrat incumbent Michele Charmello has been challenged by Republican newcomer Cathy Andreuzzi-Kovalsky and Independent newcomer Kevin J. Garcia, Sr.
In Ward 4, Democrat incumbent James H. Major has been challenged by Republican newcomer Thomas A. Sobe, Jr. and newcomer Sanjeev Kapoor.
In Ward Five, Democrat newcomer Debbie Meehan runs unopposed.
Patch distributed a list of questions to the candidates to give them a chance to express their positions on local issues. Their responses will be printed as we receive them, up to election day.
Name: John Vrtaric
Education: Elementary and secondary education in Europe, vocational training at Wilfred Beauty Academy.
Occupation: Small Business Owner & Hair Dresser
1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and why you should be elected: My name is John Vrtaric, and I have been a Woodbridge resident for almost 50 years. I emigrated from Yugoslavia to the United States when I was a young man. I am a proud father of three children, all successful graduates of the Woodbridge public school system. My professional background is that of a hair dresser and small business owner in Woodbridge for over 40 years. I am the owner of Mr. John's Beauty Salon and Vatra Beauty Supplies, as well as other real estate investments in Woodbridge. I know what it takes to build a small business here in Woodbridge Township and I know how the actions of our municipal government affect our local economy.
2. What do you think distinguishes you from other candidates? What do you bring to the table? As First Ward Councilman, I will bring my experience as a small business owner to the Council. This includes the knowledge of how to build and sustain a business, manage employees, and craft a fiscally responsible budget. By applying the principles of hard work and self reliance, I have been able to create jobs here in Woodbridge Township.
In addition I have been a longtime sponsor of Woodbridge youth athletic teams, Woodbridge H.S. scholarships, and the Police Benevolent Association. I am committed to giving back to the community that has given me so many opportunities.
3. What are the most pressing issues facing the community today? How would you approach and resolve these issues? As First Ward Councilman my priorities will be to oppose any increases in property taxes and fees and to promote government accountability.Many residents have told me that high property taxes are forcing them to consider leaving Woodbridge. Similarly, many complain that high permit fees make it too expensive to improve their homes. If we want to make Woodbridge affordable we must stop borrowing in order to facilitate wasteful spending and granting tax abatements to large corporations, which shifts the tax burden to residents.
Secondly, I will work with our law enforcement to improve the security of our residents. One of my ideas is to restore foot patrols in our downtown areas in order to increase police visibility and facilitate communication with residents.
Also, I will promote open government and accountability by making myself available to my constituents, listening to their concerns, and giving them a voice on the council. I pledge to always speak up when I believe our town is moving in the wrong direction.