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Bernards Township Committee

The Bernards Township Committee is comprised of five members, elected by the public for three-year terms of office on a staggered schedule, with one or two seats coming up for election each year. All members have equal power and may vote on all issues. Township Committee hold all legislative and executive powers of the Township (except in matters of health). At the annual Reorganization meeting held in January, the Mayor is elected by the committee from among its members.

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  • Sophia Chadda
    (Dem)

  • Todd Edelstein
    (I)

  • Janice Fields
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What do you consider the most important challenges facing your municipality? What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges? Lastly, how do you intend to address these challenges?

What, if any, new proposals for local ordinances and/or resolutions do you think are needed, and please explain why you believe this is so.

Do you think municipal government has a role in keeping students safe in our schools? If yes, what do you think municipal governments should provide?

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The most important challenge facing Bernards Township is one that faces many small New Jersey towns: over development.  Our local government’s gravitation toward excessiveness has put a strain on many of our public resources, including the police department, the fire department, our emergency services, school systems, and even our infrastructure. Just as alarmingly, it puts a strain on our small-town character that many residents – including myself - wish to retain.

As a former U.S. Marine, police officer, and EMT, as well as an active citizen that routinely observes our town council at work, I have a strong history of public service to our country and to our state. During my time as a construction worker, I have learned that problems are not solved as an individual, but rather as a team. I would work with my colleagues on the town council as well as other staff professionals.  Listening to multiple perspectives would be essential in achieving smart growth while having the smallest negative impact on our community. 

In order to address this challenge of over development, I would explore supporting the right private projects that would provide low-income credits benefits. I would also investigate the viability of forming a housing authority which we could control on our own projects rather than working on a 5:1 ratio for our housing credits, which would happen if we continue to support private contractors. Another option would be to build on a 1:1 ratio which would lead to a smaller geographic footprint.  Without a private developer, we could offer more low-income and senior housing units to our residents most in need.  As an added benefit, the land impact per citizen would be far less than the current status quo. 

However, I am a man of research. These ideas are only worth pursing if the cost benefits are satisfactory. The potential economic risk might warrant that Bernards Township yields less development entirely.  
A possible amendment that should be addressed is property reevaluations.  Currently, a Township representative comes to community homes every three years and inspects for improvements. I strongly believe that this measure is not to inspect safety, but to elevate the tax burden that can be placed on the private citizen. The American ideal of home ownership is a strong value that many of us struggle to achieve. These inspections negatively impact the people who want the satisfaction of purchasing a property, maintaining it and achieve greater in life. 

I would propose a larger time frame for inspections in addition to transparency regarding the inspector. The inspector would have to fill out a form – both digital and in print – that communicates to the owner what specific property changes they observed that would increase the property value.  This form would then be issued to homeowners so they can fully comprehend the details of future tax burdens. A clear pathway for appeals would also be listed – including phone numbers, addresses and important website links. The written and digital form should be given upon inspection completion.
The Twp is already involved with keeping students safe in our schools.  As the current policy stands, the police dept. patrols facilities at the beginning of the school day and throughout it. The Special Officers on patrol have been thoroughly vetted by the police department through interviews, background checks, and training. The Special Officers are also provided with patrol cars and sufficiently equipped with life-saving devices. I fully support the police department in its measures and with its mission.  Our Board of Education is responsible for the salaries of and budget for these school officers with the monies raised from school taxation. As such, I believe our Board of Education is in a better position to seek advice on the
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