UPPER TOWNSHIP — It will be new eyes versus experience in Tuesday’s election, when a pair of upstarts challenge two multiterm incumbents for two seats on Township Committee.
Republicans John “Jay” Newman and Curt Corson are leveraging their combined 30 years of experience in their re-election bids, while Independent Republicans Hobart “Hobie” Young and John Coggins say they can offer a fresh perspective on a committee that’s grown stale.
All five committee seats are currently occupied by Republicans.
Newman is a lifelong resident of Upper Township and runs Seaside Cemetery in Marmora. He has been a member of the Township Committee for 12 years, has been chief of the Marmora Volunteer Fire Company since 1995, and has previously been involved in the township’s youth football and baseball programs.
As a first responder, public safety has been a priority for Newman during his four terms.
He lists among his chief accomplishments the negotiation of shared services agreements with Ocean City and the modernization of Upper Township’s emergency services. If re-elected, he pledges to continue making public safety a priority.
“We’re safe, we’re clean and we want to keep it that way,” Newman said. “We’ve worked hard to get it the way it is, and we want to keep it that way.”
Corson, the deputy mayor, is a 12th-generation resident of Upper Township, He owns a campground, a storage facility, a golf course and a farm. He is a former member of the Seaville Volunteer Fire Company and is a trustee of the Cape May County Historical and Genealogical Society.
Corson said the quality of life in Upper Township speaks to the job he has done in his 18 years on committee, citing the township’s placing second in New Jersey Magazine’s 2008 Best Places to Live list.
“Obviously, we’re doing a great job,” he said.
While the incumbents believe they’ve served Upper Township well, the independent Republican challengers contend that council has grown stagnant.
Coggins, a 21-year Upper Township resident and a veteran of the solid waste business, was asked by Township Committee to be part of a solid waste subcommittee last year. He said he recommended the committee purchase a certain type of collection equipment, but it elected instead to buy a more expensive model.
While the committee said their choice of equipment would deliver a labor savings, Coggins says the jobs have just been shifted elsewhere. This experience convinced him to run.
“I was watching what was going on, and and I felt that there were ways for improvements in how we managed the township,” he said.
Young, a lifelong Upper Township resident and independent contractor, said he agrees with his running mate that the committee has become stagnant.
If elected, he said, he hopes to implement term limits to prevent politicians from resting on their laurels.
“You need new ideas, you need something to kick them in the butt a little bit and say, ‘Hey, the status quo isn’t acceptable,’” he said.
While he lacks political experience, Young said his 13 years as a zoning official will serve him well should he be elected.
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