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: Thomas A. Sobe, Jr., P.E.
Education: Attended Woodbridge Township Schools for 10 years. Graduate of Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison. Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. Licensed Professional Engineer (P.E) in the State of New Jersey. Certified Professional Traffic Operations Engineer.
1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and why you should be elected: My name is Tom Sobe, 34 years old, single, and a 30 year resident of Menlo Park Terrace. I am a licensed Professional Engineer and certified Professional Traffic Operations Engineer, with a degree in Civil Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology.
My background provides expertise in transportation issues, a vital issue to Ward 4 and Woodbridge. In addition, my career as a civil engineer provides a logical, no nonsense approach to solving issues that must be addressed by the Council. My residency in Menlo Park Terrace has exposed me to the issues that are of paramount concern to Ward 4 residents, as well as those issues that affect all residents of the beautiful Township of Woodbridge.
2. What do you think distinguishes you from other candidates? What do you bring to the table? The most significant difference between myself and my opponents is my strength as an engineer to provide logical, simple, affordable solutions to any number of issues that will be brought to the attention of the board, including but not limited to taxes, zoning, redevelopment, crime, housing overcrowding, transportation and fire safety.
Though I am not an incumbent, this will not be a hindrance if I am elected, as I will bring a fresh and innovative mindset and perspective to the Woodbridge Township Council.
3. What are the most pressing issues facing the community today? How would you approach and resolve these issues? The following two issues of paramount concern to Ward 4 residents are, in my opinion, transportation improvements and local business development, which I feel are intertwined.
With respect to transportation, I am an advocate for the removal of red light cameras. Numerous traffic studies have proven that this form of intrusive law enforcement does not improve safety across the board in New Jersey, and in many cases increase accident rates. Red light cameras are a form of discreet tax increases for residents of Woodbridge Township and are a deterrent for non-Woodbridge residents to shop and dine in Woodbridge when they feel they are being discreetly taxed.
Significant traffic improvements that require study, consideration and improvement are the following:
- Improve the intersection of Ford Avenue and Route 1 to alleviate congestion along Route 1, especially when traveling southbound along the Garden State Parkway to Route 1. In addition, the traffic pattern along the southern section of West Kelly Street in Menlo Park Terrace is a major hindrance to storefront development. This is the “Main Street” of Menlo Park Terrace that for too long has been neglected.
- The entire Route 27 corridor through Ward in Iselin. Significant and further studies with respect to intuitive traffic light design/timing along with further pedestrian crossing upgrades are a necessity. Such improvements will allow businesses to continue and further flourish along Green Street and adjoining roads. This will include coordination with NJDOT and NJ Transit, two entities I am very familiar with during my professional career as a traffic engineer.
- Improve and expand parklands in Menlo Park Terrace, specifically School #19 and Wall Street. Additional parkland should be developed in Iselin, especially along Gill Lane.
- Redevelop Menlo Park Terrace West Kelly Street. This used to be a thriving “Main Street” for MPT. Purchase and redevelop the motel on West Kelly Street, possibly into an animal park or animal shelter. This motel is the blight of Menlo Park Terrace.
- Continue and increase support for Woodbridge Police and Fire Departments.