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Montgomery Township Committee

The Montgomery Township Committee consists of the Mayor and four members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with one or two seats coming up for election each year. The Committee selects the Mayor and Deputy Mayor each year at the annual Reorganization Meeting. As a township form of government, the Committee has administrative powers and is the policy-making body of the government and Committee members serve on various Township boards and committees. The mayor receives a salary of $5,562.The deputy mayor and committee members receive $4,169.

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  • Candidate picture

    Shelly Bell
    (Dem)

  • Hossein Zolfaghari
    (I)

Biographical Information

What do you consider the most important challenges for Montgomery Township?

What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges?

What are your short-term and long-term plans to address the budgetary and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the municipality?

What policies, if any, will you pursue to promote social and racial justice in the municipality?

Campaign Email montycampaign@gmail.com
Website www.montgomerydemsnj.org/candidates/ Shelly-L-Bell
Facebook Page @BellForMontgomery
First, we must sustain the health and well-being of community members. I have an MA in counseling, so I have experience and a passion for mental health care. My background in mental healthcare makes me attuned to the community's needs, especially during this pandemic situation. I will work to ensure that community members have access to the appropriate services. Working with the Health Department, the Board of Health, and our local school district, I would like to initiate a coordinated program focused on the mental health of the community during these trying times. This is in addition to supporting the evidence-based strategies Montgomery Township has been implementing to address COVID-19.

Second, we must strengthen connections among community members. As part of Montgomery Township’s One Montgomery Committee, I worked with Mayor Jaffer to organize a community breakfast last year after an attack against the Jewish community in Jersey City. Speakers included Deputy Mayor Marvin Schuldiner, Police Director Captain Tom Wain, and I invited a representative from the United Nations. The municipal court was packed, and many people expressed their appreciation for having a space to mourn and talk about their hopes for the future. This year, I helped coordinate a Juneteenth event via zoom, where I invited my mentor Assemblyman Craig Stanley to speak. While I worked with Assemblyman Stanley, he introduced legislation mandating African American history be taught to all NJ students. I'm dedicated to continuing that work. This event was very well attended, and was the first Juneteenth event celebrated by Montgomery Township.
I have a track record of service to the Montgomery and Somerset County community. I currently serve as Vice-Chair for Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women and as a member of the Montgomery Township Planning Board and Montgomery Township’s One Montgomery Committee.

I have extensive experience in politics and government specializing in constituent relations, legislative affairs, and leadership development at the federal, state, and local levels. My service to New Jersey includes working with Assemblyman Craig Stanley, former chair of the Joint Committee on Public Schools for the New Jersey State Legislature. In my work for the 28th Legislative District, I enhanced dialogue among New Jersey State legislators on “big picture” issues regarding appropriations, tuition, and the impact of legislative decisions on affordability and access.

I was born and raised in a family who believes in the practice of serving others, I have worked as outreach coordinator for the Citizens Campaign, where I educated people to the fullness of their political power and trained Newark residents by providing tools, resources, and confidence needed to navigate government. I am also a trustee for the Fellowship Deaconry, active member of Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) – New Jersey Chapter, an international organization that helps women further their education by providing scholarships, grants, awards, and loans.
Thanks to the hard work of our elected officials and municipal professionals, Montgomery is in a relatively good state of financial health. My plan to address the budgetary and economic impacts of COVID-19 would consist of closely monitoring all revenues and expenses to understand potential shortfalls, and then use this analysis to ensure we are able to meet the demands of the budget in the short term. In terms of long-term budgeting, I would advocate that the Township be as conservative as possible in expenditures as we forecast future impacts of COVID-19.

I'm dedicated to the economic stability of our residents and small businesses. We need to help small businesses navigate a post-covid environment. I will partner with economic development officials, community development groups, the Somerset County Business Partnership and County Commissioners to develop a coordinated strategy for addressing and mobilizing all available resources in support of our small businesses. As a fellow of Rising Tide Capital, a non-profit organization whose mission is to transform lives and communities through entrepreneurship, one proposal I have is to develop an online hub for sharing entrepreneurship and small businesses resources throughout the community.
Social and racial justice are values that are dear to my heart. In light of everything that is going on in our country right now, it is imperative that we address racism. We must ensure that anti-racism and anti-discrimination permeates all municipal operations. If elected, I would advocate for an audit of Township policies to ensure racial equity is guaranteed to residents and employees. Any areas in need of attention would then be prioritized and addressed.

I would also work on a number of initiatives that will continue to bring diverse members from all backgrounds of our community to work together. One of these would be a “Coffee with a Cop” program that would enhance connections between the police department and our broader community. I also want to preserve the diverse history of Montgomery by working with students including a team from Princeton University as well as our local high school students who are interested in making sure we document the stories of residents. I am proud that we have an African American heritage museum in Montgomery, and I would like to work closely with them to develop programs as well.

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