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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Hillsborough Township Committee {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The five-member Township Committee is elected directly by the voters at-large in partisan elections to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis. Township committee members divide themselves into subcommittees to supervise the administrative activities of the township government, and thus their legislative and executive powers varies by subcommittee. The mayor and deputy mayor are chosen by the Township Committee from among its members at an annual reorganization meeting, each serving a one-year term.
  • Candidate picture

    Harrison(Harry) Burke (Dem) Employment Specialist

  • Gloria McCauley (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Jane M. Staats (Dem) Retired public high school mathematics teacher

  • Doug Tomson (Rep)

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Biographical Information

What do you consider the most important challenges facing Hillsborough Township, and what personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges?

A municipality has two budgets - the annual operating budget and a capital budget. What are your priorities for each of these budgets?

What are your recommendations for dealing with New Jersey's affordable housing requirements?

Is the Township Committee sufficiently transparent in its operation? If not, how would you achieve greater transparency?

What are your thoughts about making Hillsborough a "Fair and Welcoming Community" by creating a policy that restricts local police from turning over undocumented residents to ICE agents if those residents contact the police for non-immigration related issues such as car accidents?

There are several issues facing Hillsborough Township. We have to start taking our infrastructure problems seriously, tackle our vacant storefronts, broaden our tax base, and build a stronger connection between the Township and residents. We have a real issue with how roads in Hillsborough are maintained. Hillsborough has 250 miles throughout town, and the current way our Township is going about it is not sufficient. We want to be more aggressive about bringing in grants and alternative sources of revenue for repaving projects. Our empty storefronts are also a major financial issue. Vacant buildings do not generate tax revenue or create jobs. We need to attract a variety of businesses to Hillsborough. Having the same types, especially more of what has failed in the past does not help us. In Hillsborough, over 85% of the township’s assessed property is residential. We must find ways to lighten the burden on local property owners. We also want to be more open and transparent in our meetings. Executive sessions have been used by our current government as a “go to” to keep from discussing important issues in front of the public. We want to make sure that executive sessions are not overused. Once elected, we will continue knocking on doors, holding public meetings and forums, and meeting everyone in town to ensure they know local government is listening to them. As a former political organizer and a current social service worker, I am able to connect members of my community.
For our operating budget, we want to put an emphasis on things like social programs. There have been salary cuts in the Social Services department in the recent budgets passed by the Township. As someone who was raised and works in the social services field, this is close to my heart. I think a department like this should not be cut while political appointees in the Municipal building are getting 5-14% salary increases.

For our capital budget, a top priority is finding ways to fix our roads. The Township Committee has let them deteriorate for long enough, and we will fight for ways to expand our road projects as much as we can.
Affordable housing is a serious issue throughout New Jersey that is complicated by pending litigation. Hillsborough must thoroughly plan a solution and not just give developers free reign to develop however and wherever they like. We want to work with nonprofits and other advocates of affordable housing to find the best way to meet our mandated obligations. Our current Township Committee members are trying to blame the state for every problem here in town. We will not complain about things just because they are hard. We want to solve this problem. We want to find properties in town that can be redeveloped for mixed use.
The Township Committee is not sufficiently transparent in our eyes. They claim to follow the letter of the law when informing the public about important issues, but that is not enough. If there is an important issue in town, we want to make sure residents know about it. We want to use social media and explore Facebook Live for Township Committee meetings. We want to use every method of communication, whether it’s newspapers, phone calls, or even knocking on residents’ doors to talk with them about these important issues. We will not stop knocking on doors until we’ve hit every home in Hillsborough - and then we’ll go back and do it again. We are not going to hide behind executive session. If there is an issue that we are able to talk about before the public, we will make every effort to do so.
The State of New Jersey has certain limitations for police officers, specifically what they can ask individuals about their immigration status. Hillsborough should work towards being a fair and open community. That means an individual should not be afraid to call 911 if they are victims of a violent crime like domestic abuse regardless of immigration status. It is a different situation however if an individual commits a crime, especially a violent one.

The use of fear-mongering and lying about undocumented immigrants cannot, and will not be tolerated. We are people of the same human race that must show compassion towards one another, especially in times of trouble and hardship.
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The most important challenges facing Hillsborough are our infrastructure, empty storefronts, and communication between the Township Committee and the residents of Hillsborough. Hillsborough’s infrastructure is in poor shape. According to the Capital Planning Committee, the township is years behind on road projects, and serious ongoing maintenance of our roads would be more cost-effective than the current band-aid approach. The proliferation of empty storefronts throughout Hillsborough, especially along Route 206, is an embarrassment. We need to be aggressive in seeking different kinds of businesses to locate in Hillsborough to help share the tax burden. Our township committee can improve tremendously in how they communicate with the community. Meeting agendas are posted but not publicized, and they are often changed at the last minute. Meetings could be live-streamed. And when Hillsborough residents speak at the meetings, they are often met with sarcasm, rudeness, and disrespect. My experience as a public school mathematics teacher and volunteer has prepared me to deal diplomatically and empathetically with a wide variety of people and personalities. I can transfer that skill when I reach out to prospective business owners to fill up those empty storefronts, and when I communicate with Hillsborough residents. I have researched the issues and history thereof affecting Hillsborough, and I have challenged the township committee on some important issues at their meetings.
Regarding the annual operating budget, cuts to social services should be restored to serve the more vulnerable residents of Hillsborough. We also need to expand services for Hillsborough’s younger residents. While our children are provided many types of excellent sports activities via the Parks and Recreation department, we need to provide activities involving art, music, theater, science, and other areas in order to tap into the interests of all children. Funds for these services could be freed up by halting salary increases of 5 to 14% for political appointees, and eliminating reliance on outsourced lawyers and engineers. The priority for the capital budget should be Hillsborough’s infrastructure. Our Capital Planning Committee has stated that Hillsborough is years behind on properly repairing our roads. Maintaining our roads as part of a structured plan would be more cost effective in the long run than the band-aid approach being implemented now.
Hillsborough needs strong leadership to address the issue of development, and affordable housing in particular. The Township Committee is blaming the state’s requirements regarding affordable housing; however, only 24% of the units in several of these current and proposed developments are affordable housing. By following the lead of builders, the Township Committee has created congestion and overdevelopment in already densely populated areas. The Township Committee must use a variety of strategies to fulfill their obligation to house those in need. We can redevelop existing spaces, such as empty storefronts and vacant lots. By aggressively seeking state assistance and grants and working alongside non-profit organizations, low-income residents, senior citizens, young adults, and residents with special needs, including long-time residents of Hillsborough, can find homes in this town that they love.
The Township Committee is definitely not sufficiently transparent in its operation. They barely satisfy the letter of the law. Currently, the agenda is posted on an actual bulletin board at the municipal building, and quietly inserted in the agenda portion of the township website. The agenda should be published earlier, and in every possible manner – via the township’s Twitter account, Facebook, and emails. And last minute changes should only be made when necessary, not for political expediency. Township Committee meetings can be live-streamed, and residents can call in for public comment in real time. Agenda items should be explained clearly, without using confusing terminology, and they should include all of the salient points. Lastly, many issues are discussed separately during executive session, but the minutes thereof are rarely eventually revealed. Some of these issues are unnecessarily hidden, and they should be exposed.
In 2007, a state attorney general directive limited what local police officers can ask people they arrest, but it did not address how they should respond to requests from ICE. Hillsborough should create a “Fair and Welcoming Community” by ensuring the safety of undocumented residents. Local law enforcement officials should be restricted from notifying ICE unless that resident has committed a violent crime. Indeed, without such a compassionate reassurance, an undocumented victim of domestic abuse and other crimes would be fearful of reporting those crimes. The Hillsborough Police Department has always worked hard to protect all residents of Hillsborough. Such a policy will help them to continue doing so. And resources and personnel would be focused on protecting all residents, as opposed to being diverted to doing the work of ICE agents. Such a policy protects everyone, and it should not result in fear mongering and false claims about protecting violent criminals.
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