The end of Republican incumbent Mayor Tony Fiore’s first term on Middletown Township Committee is drawing near. And if he has it his way, there will be another three years on the dais for him and a first for running mate Stephanie Murray, keeping the presently all-Republican committee just that way.
While Democrat contenders for the two seats on the five-seat governing body think it’s time to mix it up with some bi-partisan representation, Fiore and Murray think they are the new blood with fresh perspective. They just happen to be Republican.
Both in their 30s, the two are running together in the Nov. 8 election on a platform of fiscal austerity and holding the line on taxes, even if the tough choices made in order to do so hurt a little.
Fiore thinks his performance in the first three years on Township Committee, with the last year as mayor, is proof enough of his leadership capability to warrant voters voting him in to finish what he has started. Murray would like to get started, this being her first run for political office.
The following are the biographical profiles and political views and proposals of Fiore and Murray:
Stephanie Murray, 36, of 15 Wallace Rd., in the Oak Hill section of Middletown
• Political affiliation and background: Republican • First run for political office • Served on Middletown Township Zoning Board of Adjustment
• Professional and educational background: Bachelor’s degree from Fordham University, NY • Owner of a small publishing company
• Volunteer affiliations: Founder of Middletown Mornings, a non-partisan regular forum held for residents to interface with public officials • Member of Open Space Committee • Commissioner of Parks and Recreation Advisory Board • Past member of Township Housing Authority board
A native of New York and resident of Middletown for about 10 years, Stephanie Murray says she is running for Township Committee because she wants to make a difference and do her part to make it more affordable to settle down and stay in Middletown.
“It’s something you do because your heart is in it,” she said. “I want to do what I can from my small corner of the universe. This is my opportunity to do that, so I am. I want to make sure Middletown is affordable and maintain this quality of life for which my family and I moved here.”
In keeping with that goal, Murray has echoed Fiore’s sentiments in saying she wants to continue to push for tighter fiscal goals, or whatever it takes, to keep taxes level.
While serving on the Housing Authority (starting in 2009) for 18 months, Murray said she fought raises and car stipends to save money and strain on taxpayer wallets.
A major thrust for Murray in running is also that she has small children who she would like to see rooted in Middletown for generations to come.
“I’m very vested because of having young children,” she said. “I plan, if elected, to re-evaluate everything in the township in order to maintain an affordable lifestyle. Whatever it takes, I’ll do it.”
Anthony P. Fiore, 34, of 29 Brasch Blvd., Middletown
• Political affiliation and background: Republican • End of first three-year term on Middletown Township Committee (2008-2011) • 2010 deputy mayor • 2011 mayor • Member of Middletown Township Planning Board from 2006 through 2009
• Professional background: Prudential Investments vice president ~ retirement, pension and benefits consultant/specialist •
• Volunteer affiliations: Chairman, 9/11 10th Anniversary Committee • Member of township Shared Services Committee
A resident of Middletown for about a decade now, Tony Fiore boasts his fiscally austere ways, mirroring the methodology of Gov. Chris Christie.
He believes that he has been successful in saving the township money in his first three years on the Township Committee and would like to institute more of the frugal measures he says have saved taxpayer money, held the line on taxes and will continue to, should he get elected to second term.
“The benefits of re-electing me? I have used my professional background in the financial field to make changes that I believe will end up saving Middletown taxpayers millions of dollars in the future,” Fiore said. “Three more years of Tony Fiore means that the people will keep someone in office who will stand up for the governor’s philosophy to rein in spend and costs that are draining taxpayers through reforms that need to be put into place.”
Fiore says he, like Christie, is a staunch leader for reform, even if some wince at the sacrifices that must be made in order for reform to take hold.
The mayor says his track record for fiscal accountability and frugality speaks for itself.
“My candidacy brings with it a philosophy for fighting Trenton when necessary, without fear,” he said. “In addition to better budgeting, I intend to also have and will continue to staunchly fight the now defunct Council on Affordable Housing’s flawed formula for mandating affordable housing that costs us money.”
The mayor contends that the Council’s mandate to create affordable housing is a flawed and expensive taxpayer strain, considering that there are “plenty of existing affordable units throughout the township.”
Fiore feels confident that he can keep Middletown affordable by making some tough, unpopular decisions to keep spending down.
This year there was no Middletown Day, as it was deemed too expensive an endeavor to run as it was in the past. Fiore has said the community day will return next year, manned by more volunteers for affordability and local business benefit.
On the subject of Township Committee salary and benefits, Fiore stressed that the annual stipend for committee members is $4,000 with no benefits and no pension (not since 2007).