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: Michele Charmello
Education: BS Education, Lock Haven University/ MA Special Education, New Jersey City University/ Post Graduate Certificate in Management and Supervision, Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and why you should be elected: I grew up surrounded by the ideals of public service. My parents were actively involved in the community, my mom as a Democratic Committeewoman and my dad serving as the Recreation Department Director, Board of Education member, Democratic Committeeman and City Council member.
My family, which consists of mainly police officers and teachers, instilled in me a strong work ethic and the idea that civic responsibility is just that, a responsibility of all. Becoming involved in my community is a way to pay forward all the benefits I have received. I see community involvement as a mandate and a way of life. Far too many enter public life with little understanding of the commitment involved and false ideas of their roles and responsibilities. I have lived the life of a public service since my childhood and understand that assisting the people of the third ward is a responsibility I gladly accept.
2. What do you think distinguishes you from other candidates? What do you bring to the table? Woodbridge Township needs strong, fiscally responsible leadership – leaders and elected officials who are pragmatic and consider the overall needs of the Township. I bring this experience and expertise, along with honesty, integrity, innovation and the willingness to listen and act. And, I have a true caring for my community and an aspiration to enhance the “Quality-of-Life” for all of the residents in the Third Ward of Avenel and Port Reading.
3. What are the most pressing issues facing the community today? How would you approach and resolve these issues? Key Third Ward issues include economic and business development, the redevelopment of the long-abandoned General Dynamics site in the heart of Avenel and the Route 1 business corridor, and the public health and safety of all residents.
Redevelopment on Route 1 in Avenel has begun with the removal of long-vacate buildings with the addition of a Wawa (scheduled to open in mid-November). This is the first step in the larger revitalization plan which includes clean-up and redevelopment of the General Dynamics area, Blair Road, Omar Avenue and Port Reading Avenue. With redevelopment comes job creation, improved property values, and stabilized tax base.
Public health and safety begins with ensuring all redevelopment areas meet health and safety standards and residents are protected. It is also accomplished by my continued support of the first aid and fire department of both Avenel and Port Reading. These institutions have a long history of service and should be celebrated and maintained. Continued collaboration with Mayor John E. McCormac and the Woodbridge Township Administration and Police Department to address public safety concerns along with establishing neighborhood watch programs will increase the safety and security of our residents.