Timing is everything, and Councilman Kyle Anderson admitted his timing last month between paying for a traffic ticket acquired over the summer and being pulled over the next day for a broken headlight couldn't have been worse.
Anderson said in public session at the December 4 council meeting that he had been arrested on a bench warrant for a speeding ticket he hadn't paid from late summer.
The worst part about it is that Anderson was pulled over for the headlight on Tuesday, November 13, the day after he had sent the payment in to Westampton, the Burlington County municipality that handles ticket monies for Turnpike traffic violations in that part of the state. The clerk there confirmed to him on Wednesday they had received his payment.
"The timing was just off. It was my mistake. I'm embarrassed that it happened," the councilman said.
Of his own volition, Anderson announced the circumstances of the arrest at the council meeting. The meeting was taped and will be televised on Woodbridge's public access cable channels as well as on the township's website.
The situation is that in late summer, Anderson said he was pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike for going 74 mph in a 65 mph zone. He kept the ticket for travelling 9 miles an hour above the speed limit in his vehicle, and somehow the ticket got misplaced.
"I have an older, high mileage vehicle," Anderson explained. "It was in and out of the repair shop over the summer."
He keeps the vehicle for financial reasons. "I have a child in college and two in daycare. I drive it so I won't have to add a car payment" to his financial burden.
Somewhere between the vehicle's numerous visits to the repair shop, the ticket was mislaid due to simple human error.
When he received a notice in the mail in November about the wayward traffic ticket, Anderson tried to pay the ticket online, but the state system wouldn't allow him to do it. Once it had gone over a certain period of time, the ticket had to be paid in person or by mail, he said.
"I got the notice in the mail that I hadn't paid the ticket. I tried to get in touch with municipality, but they were either having problems with their phones or they were overwhelmed with calls," he said. "No one answered."
That was when Anderson wrote a letter to the Westampton clerk's office and enclosed a check for the $95 ticket, plus the $100 late payment fine tacked on.
"I took a chance and mailed it in," he said.
That was on Monday. The next day, Anderson, driving in his older-model vehicle, was stopped by Woodbridge Police for a flickering headlight.
Anderson was taken in to police headquarters, where he paid the ticket and fine. One thing was certain: the councilman didn't get any special favors.
"It's good to know the Woodbridge police do a good job," he said. "I didn't ask for any special treatment. I didn't receive any."
The entire situation was enough of a headache, including the embarrassment about being arrested over a traffic ticket, but Anderson's position as an elected official added to the stress.
Anderson said he decided to go public with the details so that he could be the one to get it out in the open and then put it behind him.
"It was a mistake not to have paid the ticket," he said. "But I paid for the ticket. Now it's all settled."