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Baum, Massell Compete for Middletown Township Committee Seat

The two candidates described their priorities at a candidates forum Tuesday.

At a candidates' forum attended by more than 50 people at Lincroft School Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Stephen Massell emphasized what he considered the current administration's various accomplishments, while challenger Linda Baum described her ideas on how Middletown could save more taxpayer money. 

The Monmouth County League of Women Voters moderated the forum, hosted by the Lincroft Village Green Association. Massell, a Republican, and Baum, a Democrat, are vying for an open seat on the Middletown Township Committee.  

Other candidates at the forum were competing for county freeholder or the full-time position of County Clerk.  The freeholder candidates were Freeholder Director John Curley and Freeholder Serena DiMaso of the Republican Party, facing Kevin Lavan and William Shea of the Democratic Party. For the office of County Clerk, the contest is between Republican incumbent M. Claire French and Democrat Michael Steinhorn.

Linda Baum

Baum, an actuary, said she has been regulary attending government meetings in Middletown for several years. As a founder of Middletown Open Government, she has helped organize the videotaping of public township and school board meetings for distribution to the public. 

She said the current administration's 1.97% tax increase -- which came in under the state-imposed 2% cap -- is not good enough. "We're talking about limiting the increase in our taxes. I think that is the wrong focus," she said. "We should be focusing on not increasing them at all, or reducing them." 

Baum said there are several ways the township could be offering residents tax relief. One idea is to pre-approve a half dozen engineering firms so that they can compete for engineering projects -- rather than appointing one firm for an entire year. She also is in favor of dissolving the Middletown Sewerage Authority and combining its services with the township. 

Baum said the government body needs to delegate work to citizen committees, such as a pesonnel or finance committtee. "I would be very vocal about good ideas that we should be implementing to save taxpayer money. That's what i would do differently," Baum said. 

Stephen Massell 

Massell, a Realtor who is currently serving out his first term as deputy mayor, said he is proud to have played a part in facilitating a deal that brought Memorial Sloan Kettering to town. He also touted single stream recycling and a shared services money-saving plan with the Board of Education as cost-saving measures.  

He opposes dissolving the "incredibly efficient" township Sewerage Authority. At $70 a quarter, "We have the lowest rates in the state." He also is not in favor of televising government meetings for broadcast due to the costs, which he said could potentially add up to $100,000 a year. 

He said that if re-elected, he would focus on improving the youth athletic league fields. "We have got to spend more time on our fields, we owe it to our kids," he said. Other initiatives he stands behind is the dredging of Shadow Lake and the establishment of the Economic Development Committee. 

"And most importantly, keeping our taxes down, and working very hard," Massell added. 

Paul October 27, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Translation anyone?
B.R. Thorpe October 28, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Yeah, the wind bags keep blowing hot air as usual and if you read the original post it spoke of healthy bi partisan government and bi partisan participation but the ignorant "numb nuts" in this town are a disgrace as usual .....so blatantly egotistical it makes decent people sick to death of them ...........
Pilgrim October 28, 2012 at 03:38 PM
The Arts Center costs Middletown taxpayers more money than it takes in -- operating expenses run $200,000 a year; when it was being built there were millions in cost overruns; the electrical work went to loyal Party member and one time Township Committee candidate Tim Sodon. Paul, you sound like a relative of Gerry Scharfenberger. This former mayor used to praise the quality of life in Middletown when the Township was rate as the 50th best place to live in the U.S. by money magazine. Sic years later it is no longer even in the top 100 best places to live -- over a 50 point deline in a quality of life survey for Middletown that can all be attributed to the Republican mismangement of the Township, which now includes the public library. When this major storm is over with I wonder how happy all of those people living north of Route 36 will feel come election day. They need to think about the $3 million plus going into cogeneration at TOMSA and the $750,000 that TOMSA gave to Middletown and the years of $200,000 a year going to the Arts Center and then think about all of the money that didn't go into a pumping station and flood protection for the Bayshore.
Paul October 28, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Give me a break Pilgrim. Your boy Pallone was the one who has been promising to get the Feds involved, as they should be, in flood relief along the Bayshore for decades now. To date, nada. The town has done a remarkable job dealing with a problem that is at the scale of the federal government and stretches way beyond Middletown. Man, you are really reaching.
B.R. Thorpe October 29, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Pilgrim, You are right in much of what you have stated at 2:14 p,m. and might add that the Paul character appears to be the former mayor not a relative. The egotistical style and the syntax is classic of his spiels .

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