MULLICA TOWNSHIP — The two candidates running for one open seat on the Mullica Township Committee both say raising revenue without overly burdening taxpayers is the main challenge facing local government.

They also both have experience with budgeting and finances, they said.

Republican Chris Silva, 61, a retired Little Egg Harbor Township police captain and now owner of a company that designs and installs communications equipment for airports and industrial entities, said he would focus on bringing commercial ratables to the township.

“The main challenge right now is obtaining more outside sources of funding, like grants ... and trying to attrract clean commercials into the town,” Silva said. “We need to have a commercial base to help offset rising costs of health insurance, salaries, and everything.”

He said he would rather bring in some commercial ratables, rather than housing that would add children to the school district.

“I don’t see any big benefit in getting a greater population. It defeats the purpose (by costing more to educate more children) and the reason people are attracted to this area,” Silva said of the rural nature of the town.

Democrat Jean Gallagher, 49, is a first-grade teacher at Mullica Elementary School. She is a former CPA who previously worked as an Atlantic City casino controller and internal audit director, and said she would focus on the budget process.

“I would be very analytical and conservative in budgeting,” she said. “We really need to be cognizant about not putting additional burdens on taxpayers.”

She said she would need to study further the idea of bringing commercial ratables in, particularly if a small packet sewer plant would need to be built to service businesses on the White Horse Pike.

“You always have to balance the growth with the demands you are going to put on community services,” Gallagher said, “and whether there are any hidden costs for us as residents.”

Silva, who is not related to Mullica Township Police Officer Chris Silva, said he would support such a plant in order to bring some business to the township.

A widower, Silva has two adult children and two grandchildren who attend Mullica schools. He has lived in Mullica about 10 years, he said.

He retired from the police force in Little Egg Harbor in 2003, after settling 4-year legal dispute with the township over disciplinary charges that an administrative law judge called politically motivated. Terms were not disclosed.

Gallagher, who is married to Andrew Schlee, has two daughters, one in eighth grade in Mullica and one a senior at Cedar Creek High School in Egg Harbor City. She has lived in the township 21 years, she said.

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