Linwood City Council
There are three candidates for City Council and two seats open. Republican June Byrnes is running unopposed in Ward 1 and incumbent Republican Todd Gordon is being challenged by Democrat Katherine Friedman in Ward 2. Each of the candidates were asked to explain why they are seeking office and to respond to two questions: 1. If Governor Murphy signs the bill that permits the recreational use of marijuana, would you support a marijuana dispensary in Linwood as a means of offsetting taxes? 2. A topic of hot debate recently on the state and national level is the tone and lack of civility politics has taken in the past several elections. How do you plan to help return civility to politics?
June Byrnes, 53, a realtor with Balsley Losco Realty is running unopposed for the Ward 1 seat previously held by Elliot Beinfest who decided not to seek another term on Linwood City Council.
Byrnes grew up in Linwood and returned in 1996 with her husband Jim to raise their three children. She is currently a member of the zoning board, appointed in 2015.
Asked why she is running for office Byrnes said, “It’s perfect timing for me to continue my service of Linwood with City Council. I have enjoyed many years in Linwood as a child now an adult serving the city of Linwood. My past work in sales and marketing at Atlantic City casinos, The Press of Atlantic City, Balsley Losco Realty and volunteer experience that includes Court Appointed Special Advocates of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, the Superintendent’s Advisory Board, Linwood Education Foundation, The Woman’s Forum, Friends of Linwood Library, Catholic Charities, Relay for Life and several school and sports boosters clubs makes me a strong candidate contributing towards maintaining and enhancing the quality of living, and affordability of in Linwood. We are an extremely well-run municipality and I look forward to the opportunity to work with the residents and city government to reach a common goal. Hard working families and retirees will have my ear and support.”
On whether Linwood should consider a marijuana dispensary within city borders to offset taxes Byrnes said, “As a resident and a prospective city council representative, I do agree that we need to continue attracting and maintaining businesses to improve commercial ratables while keeping our Linwood identity. I do not see the Governor’s current proposal a benefit to the city of Linwood.”
Byrnes said she will work to keep the tone in the political arena positive and said, “Civility in politics is an important topic to me. When I was making my decision to run for office, I met personally with several members of city council, the Republican club, a high-ranking NJ Democrat, and several neighbors. I was consistently told that we should not attack, degrade or play dirty politics. Linwood is a small town with great integrity, and I will not let that change.”
Incumbent Republican Todd Gordan, 55, is seeking his second full three-year term on City Council. Gordon works for South Jersey Industries and he and his wife Maureen have three children who attended Linwood Schools.
Gordon is a lifelong resident of Linwood, a graduate of Drexel University with a degree in engineering. He chairs the city’s engineering committee. His service to the City of Linwood predates Gordon’s time on the governing body and include the zoning board, the Linwood School Superintendent Advisory Council, Linwood BOE master pan committee, member of the Atlantic County Committee, past president of the Linwood Republican Club. Gordon has a long history of working with the Linwood youth organizations including coaching
Democrat Katherine Friedman,49, has lived in Linwood for the past 12 years with her husband and two children. She is making her first run for public office. After a career in the corporate world Friedman said she left and got her teaching certification and taught in East Brunswick before moving to Linwood. She currently works as a substitute teacher in Linwood.
The first-time candidate said she made the choice to run for office saying, “As a teacher. mother, coach, and resident, I believe I can make a difference by standing up for all residents in Ward 2. We have a wonderful mix of people here; longtime residents, new families, military families, renters, single parents, people from various cultures and religions, and so many others that deserve representation and a friendly, welcoming environment. I believe we should model what the schools teach our children; the "You can sit with us" mentality.”
Friedman weighed in on the question if Gov. Murphy approves the use of recreational marijuana would she be in favor of a dispensary in the city to help offset taxes. Friedman said via email, “Personally, I don't think it’s a good idea. However, as a City Council member, I know that my job would be to examine all opportunities to lessen the tax burden on the city's residents before deciding. My instinct is that a dispensary is probably not best suited for Linwood due to its probable proximity to the schools. However, it would be foolish to not do the math. That includes the traffic impact on our roads and how much revenue it would actually bring to the table. Bringing in business can be a smart move to ease tax burden, depending on the nature of the business. I would still need to hear the opinion of all of my constituents, ideally through public referendum, multiple town hall forums or City Council meetings.”
On returning civility to politics the first-time candidate said, “To me, there is no debate when it comes to treating others with respect. Civility should be a default behavior. I will treat everyone with the amount of respect they deserve. Anyone who volunteers to run necessarily does so because they want to be of service. We are neighbors helping neighbors on a small and grand scale.”
Linwood Board of Education
Voters will find four names on the ballot on Nov. 6; Donna Michael Ziereis, Michelle DeMorat, Steven Evinski and Brent Kolmer. Due to unforeseen family obligations Brent Kolmer had to step away from the race. He said that should he receive enough votes to win the election he will respectfully decline.
Donna Michael Ziereis
Incumbent Donna Michael Ziereis, 52, is the vice president and general counsel for AtlantiCare Health System. She is responsible for the leadership of legal operations. She and her husband Jim have lived in Linwood for 19 years. They have three children, two daughters out of high school and their youngest in eighth grade at Belhaven School. Michael Ziereis has served on the Linwood Board of Education since 2011 and is currently the president of the board.
Citing the community’s commitment to the schools helps to make Linwood a special place. Michael Ziereis said, "I am seeking another term on term on the board so I can continue working to ensure we provide the best education and the best learning environment we can for our children. I hope to draw on my board, legal and business experience to help find creative solutions to the challenges we face, while maintaining the excellence we expect from our schools."
In response to a question about the board can do to counteract the loss of funding Linwood is experiencing, the board president said, “The funding loss is a significant issue for us and we need to diligently work from all angles. We need to advocate to change the law to a fair funding formula; the current formula is flawed and is crippling to many school districts. We need to work with our community to find innovative sources of revenue and need to work with the administration, teachers and staff to identify ways to reduce costs without impacting our quality.”
First time candidate Steven Evinski, 49, has lived in Linwood for 19 years with his wife Katherine and their three daughters, two currently attending Linwood schools and their eldest at Mainland.
Evinski is an educator, teaching at the Ventnor Education Community Complex since 2001. Prior to that he was a teacher at the Hess School in Hamilton Township. He is a graduate of West Virginia University where he earned his degree in education.
An active volunteer in the community Evinski noted that the primary goal of every school board member is to increase student achievement. He said he decided to run because, “I want to see every student in the Linwood School District reach his/her potential. Since purchasing our home in 2001, my wife and I have established ourselves in the community of Linwood. We have made the schools and children the center of our volunteer efforts and so volunteering for Linwood Board of Education was the next step in our strong commitment to volunteering in our community.”
Asked to weigh in about the loss of funding to the school district, Evinski said, “Becoming part of a team of nine board members, we will need to work with the administration, teachers, staff and the community to determine how to use the allotted funds on the most effective programs that will lead to the greatest student achievement.”
Michelle DeMorat, 46, is seeking her second three-year term on the Linwood Board of Education. She and her husband moved to Linwood over 15 years ago and have four children. She is employed by the Brigantine School District.
DeMorat said she is running again because, “Being a board of education member is a very important volunteer position. I want to serve because I value the education process. Every child should be encouraged to learn to their full capabilities and feel that learning is fun and exciting. Each student has different interests and strengths, providing our teachers with professional development and the tools they need is imperative to ensuring each student is given the education to have them succeed in the 21st century. Linwood schools have given my four children an excellent education and I want to ensure that the excellence of our school district is maintained for all the students of Linwood.”
How to manage the continued drop in school funding in Linwood, DeMorat said, “In order to address our economic situation we really need to explore every option of how we move forward without the state aid. We need to think outside the box, be open minded, and explore every option to make sure our school district maintains its academic excellence.”
Somers Point City Council
There are two incumbents running in Somers Point; Republican Howard Dill is seeking his fourth three-year term and Ron Meischker is seeking his first three-year term. He was appointed to council to replace Thomas Smith who resigned last year.
Somers Point Board of Education
No petitions were filed for the open seats on the Somers Point Board of Education. Voters will be able to write-in their choice for the school districts governing body.
Northfield City Council
Newcomer Democrat Rick Brozosky is running against former City Councilman, Republican Brian Smith. Brozosky and Smith are looking to fill the seat of current Councilman Cliff Murray who decided not to seek another term. Three-term City Councilman Jim Travagline is not running this year. There were no petitions to run filed by the Republicans and first-time candidate Barbara Madden is running unopposed.
Ward 1 Democrat Rick Brozosky, 37, has been a resident of Northfield for the past 11 years. He and his wife Melanie have three children, all attending Northfield Community School. This is his first run for public office. He is a union carpenter currently working with Acoustics Plus Inc.
Brozosky said he is running for council because “The job would challenge me to become the best version of myself, and set a good example for my daughters. America needs good people in all levels of government, but the current political climate scares many away from the potential labor pool. I have the makings of a good public servant, in that I am thoughtful, hardworking and at my best when beholden to a higher purpose, giving all my energy to achieve the goals that purpose requires. Also, I was raised to possess the humility required of a leader, to act for the greater good even when my own ambitions must be checked.”
Weighing in on supporting a marijuana dispensary in Northfield to help offset the municipal tax burden if Gov. Phil Murphy signs the bill permitting the use of recreational marijuana Brozosky said via email, “Should the recreational use of marijuana become legalized in New Jersey, I have no personal reason to oppose a properly regulated dispensary in our town. The laws against marijuana are changing all across North America, and as long as responsible adults use it as responsible adults, I have no moral opposition to notion. Based on what I see, I assume that dispensaries will ultimately become similar to licensed liquor retailers. Therefore, I would say that if the laws are changed and the added revenue could also help residents with our ever-increasing property tax burden, I could support a dispensary.”
Asked about helping to return civility to politics the first-time Democratic candidate said “The partisan divide and lack of civility in politics is an injustice to the American people. We elect our representatives to govern, not grandstand, and the constant stream of theatrics is exhausting and unproductive. Democracy is messy. As our society evolves we are presented with new challenges that must be met with civil dialogue, which cannot be achieved when emotions take the place of reason. I entered this race because I want to help settle things down, to act on behalf of the majority of people who just want our government to work and to be boring again. I will be transparent in my actions, collaborative in my efforts, and own my mistakes with the thick skin born of years on a construction site, putting the concerns and needs of my community above all.”
Ward 1 Republican Brian Smith, 45, is seeking to return to City Council. He previously served from 2009-2011. A lifelong resident of the city, he and his wife have two daughters that attend the Northfield Community School.
Smith is a teacher at Mainland Regional High School where he has coached baseball, softball and track over the course of the last decade. He said he is making a run at returning to City Council because Northfield is a great place to live and the best place to raise a family and he wants to make sure the city remains that way.
Commenting on the state of high taxes and what to do about them Smith said there is no easy solution to the high property taxes that plague our city and state. “We need to reign in runaway spending where it exists and make prudent decisions when we must spend money. I stand by my record on cutting costs and saving the city money from my time on city council in the past (2009-11). We sought and achieved shared service agreements with Linwood for municipal court and EMS services. We need to continue to look for these opportunities wherever they may exist. We must continue to make our city desirable along our business corridors to encourage growth and expansion. And most importantly, we must ensure that Northfield is a safe environment for our children to grow up and be proud to call home, as I do. I don't profess to have all the answers, but I will ask questions, and I will listen,” said Smith.
Democrat Barbara Madden, 69, is making her first run for office in Northfield’s Ward 2 and she is unopposed. She is a widow and has one son. Madden moved to Northfield 17 years ago from Vineland and is a retired registered nurse.
The political newcomer said that one of the reasons she is running for office hinges on high taxes. “The high taxes have become unsustainable for many citizens of Northfield. I guess this is what brought to this juncture in life. I would like to try to seek solutions to some of the problems causing yearly increases in taxes,” said Madden. She added that her campaign is focused on the local concerns in Northfield.
On the question of whether she would support a marijuana dispensary in Northfield if Gov. Murphy approves the sale of recreational marijuana Madden said, “I am open to the idea of a marijuana dispensary in Northfield if it would lower taxes; however, I would like to see details of a proposal before I made a final decision.”
Northfield Board of Education
There are three seats open on the Northfield School Board and the three incumbents holding those seats are running for another term. The candidates are current BOE President, Deborah Levitt who has more than 20 years’ experience on the board. Kerrie Marrone who is seeking her second three-year terms and Angelic Delcher who is seeking her third three-year term.