Matawan residents will have the opportunity to vote for two members of the Matawan Borough Council during the Nov. 6 election. Toni Angelini and Andrew Lopez are both seeking reelection after serving their first three-year term and are running as Republicans. Kimberly Daly and Nicholas Nellegar are seeking election to the council and are running as Democrats.
Toni Angelini was elected to the Matawan Borough Council in 2009 and serves as the police commissioner and as a member of the finance committee. She is also on the board of directors for Mercy Center in Asbury Park, which provides support to the local community and education services in Asbury Park and the surrounding area.
Angelini said she has used her three-year term on the council to help bring the budget under control by using funds to pay off debt and get the borough to a place where real improvements can be made.
“Saving money and getting our finances in order was probably more difficult than I realized it would be when I was first elected. Now that we’ve gotten past that, I think it’s time to turn the page and start making improvements that people will be able to see driving through town,” she said.
Angelini is pleased that the council was able to enter into a shared service agreement with Hazlet and Keyport to form the Joint Court, and hopes to continue researching areas where Matawan can share services with other municipalities.
“It’s running extremely well and saving us thousands of dollars. It’s a perfect example of what we should be doing more of – getting together with other municipalities and consolidate wherever we can consolidate to save money. We’re saving money, we’re being more efficient, and we’re able to keep costs as down as humanely possible,” she said.
It’s just one of several ways, she explained, that the council has been working to decrease the impact of the municipal portion of property taxes on local residents.
“We have looked under every rock we could to save money. We’ve done a lot of things to get ourselves on the right track and to keep our property taxes from going sky high,” she said. “When it comes to the tax rate in Matawan, nobody wants to hear it, but we’re comparable to other municipalities in Monmouth County. The tax problem is not unique to Matawan. We’ve faced a lot of changes in the structure, declining property values that are impacting all municipalities.”
Moving forward, Angelini wants to focus on ways to better support the business community and continue to fix improve local parks and roads.
“I think it’s important for us to be very business friendly. We made some strides toward that in the last few years. We made it easier for businesses to come in, deal with applications, and get the business off the ground. I also think it’s very important in Matawan that we patronize our own businesses. I would love to see our residents populating the downtown area more than we already do,” she said.“
Angelini believes a vote for her is a vote for a council member who is trustworthy, honest about her opinions and dedicated to controlling taxes.
“I would hope to earn people’s votes because I have worked hard for the past three years to earn their trust and their respect. One of the things the opponents are failing to disclose is that they are married to each other. If you’re not going to be honest from the get-go about potential conflicts, chances are you are not going to govern any differently,” she said. “While I may not agree with everybody, I have always been open and honest and willing to listen to other people’s opinions.”
As a member of the council and a state employee, Angelini said she has not collected her $5,000 stipend from Matawan since 2009.
“I am not collecting money from Matawan. I will continue to work for free for Matawan because I think being able to put $5,000 back in the budget, while it may be a drop in the bucket to the overall budget, it’s something,” she said.
Andy Lopez has been a resident of Matawan for forty-four years and was elected to the Matawan Borough Council in 2009. He serves as the fire commissioner and as the liaison to the Unified Planning/Zoning Board.
Lopez first got involved in local government when he became frustrated with a parking issue on his street.
“As I went to the council meetings I started listening to what was going on,” he said. “What I heard and saw didn’t sit well with me as a resident of Matawan for 44 years.”
About two years later, after he had retired, Lopez decided he was ready to make the commitment to the council. Lopez describes himself as fiscally conservative both personally and politically, and is proud that over the last few years he has helped the borough cut costs through shared services and policy changes. Specifically, he supports the Joint Municipal Court of Hazlet, Matawan and Keyport, no longer allowing employee vehicles to be taken home at the end of the day, and closing the borough offices on Fridays.
Even so, Lopez firmly believes that the borough must continue with improvements to infrastructure, noting he is proud that the water plant is in the process of being refurbished and that the borough implemented an aggressive road program for 2012.
“My street, which was only repaired about three or four years ago, was here when I moved in and it was never repaired. We should maintain a road program. I realize the cost is prohibitive in many cases, but my position is we should at least maintain, repair, or replace certain roads each year. We cannot allow it to continue this way,” he said.
Lopez hopes to continue to serve as a member of the council, noting that he has no hidden agenda and makes decisions based on what he feels will improve the borough.
“When I make decisions, I make decisions not only as an elected official, but as a resident of Matawan,” he said. “I have no political ambitions or anything like that; my interest is strictly Matawan. I will continue to work as hard as possible to make sure Matawan is run as efficiently as possible at a reasonable cost.”
Nicholas Nellegar moved to Matawan three years ago and is a member of St. Clement. He is an assistant director for a non-profit agency in Monmouth County.
He decided to run after projects he heard about in the town never came to fruition and in hopes of improving Main Street.
"When I moved to Matawan, it was a nice place to live and I felt that it could grow with the projects I had heard about. Instead, I have seen nothing new happen and many stores in town leave because of the way the center looks," he said.
Nellegar wants to use his financial experience balancing the budget at the non-profit he works at to help evaluate the borough's spending.
"In the last four years, our taxes have continued to rise and the amount of services for the town have not changed. I would like to conduct an operational audit of the finances to identify cost savings," he said.
If elected, Nellegar plans to improve infrastructure such as local roads, water utilities and Main Street.
"I will focus on better using property taxes so that all residents benefit. Currently, a lot of roads need a repair and downtown needs to be revitalized. The other issue I will look into is the water contamination. The council has known since 2009 and the residents found out in Nov. 2011. I want to work with the water commissioner to make our water better," he said.
Kimberly Daly moved to Matawan three years ago from Essex County in search of that small-town feel minus the high property taxes of North Jersey. She is currently self-employed but has been in the social service field for ten years working at the management level with non-profit organizations. She volunteers with the Monmouth County Parks Department and is a parishioner of St. Clement.
Daly decided to run this year because she felt her property taxes continued to increase without any increase in services provided by the borough.
"I also took a serious look at our town budget and felt as if there were so many areas that we could streamline to reduce our budget for upcoming years and more appropriately use the funds that were being generated. If elected, I want the council to be more transparent about all aspects of the town," she said.
Daly wants to work to manage property taxes and work to identify places in the budget where money could be better spent on parks, recreational activities, and revitalizing downtown Matawan.
"The main issue is the 40% increase in property taxes over the past five years to the Matawan residents. If elected, my main focus will be to have an audit of our town’s spending conducted in order to identify where the money is going and where it would be better spent," she said.
Daly hopes to bring her experience managing a large budget as well as her experience working with AmeriCorps to the borough.
"As an Assistant Executive Director of a non-profit organization serving persons with disabilities, I managed multi-million dollar budgets as well as directed 75 employees. While working for AmeriCorps, I was responsible for training community volunteers to monitor the water bodies in their community using state and federally-approved visual and biological monitoring techniques," she said.