Eight candidates filed to run in the November general election for three, three-year terms on the South Brunswick Township Council. The terms of incumbent Democratic Councilmen Joseph Camarota, Charles Carley, and Republican John O'Sullivan have expired. Both Camarota, of Kendall Park, and Carley, of Kendall Park, filed to run for reelection, along with Josephine "Jo" Hochman, on the Middlesex County Democratic Organization ticket. Also filing to run, under the Township Democrats ticket, were former South Brunswick Mayor Debra Johnson, of Monmouth Junction, and Shilpn Patel, of Monmouth Junction.
Voters will cast their ballots on June 5 in the Democratic primary to decide which three candidates will move on to the November general election.
On the GOP side, three candidates filed to run under the Middlesex County Republican Organization. In addition to incumbent O'Sullivan, of Monmouth Junction, are Michael Kushwara, of Kendall Park, and Paul Saltin, of Monmouth Junction.
Meet the Candidates: Josephine "Jo" Hochman
Hochman, a 35-year resident of South Brunswick, works as a program specialist for Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey. She has served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Planning Board, the school district’s Every Person Influences Children program and the Municipal Alliance.
"I think there needs to be a woman on the council to bring another perspective and to bring the voice of residents," Hochman said. "I've had an interest in South Brunswick since the day I moved here. I've been a volunteer in every way possible, from PTA president to the school site council, Project Graduation, the Municipal Alliance. I've run the gamut of all areas from young kids to seniors."
with no tax rate increase. Hochman said she believes the council has done a good job keeping taxes manageable.
"I think the council has done a wonderful job so far with keeping tax increases at a minimum. You can't go any lower than zero," she said. "With the continued services we offer, I don't think there's much more we can do except keep everything in line and a close watch on everything we do."
The township ratable base dropped 4.3 percent to approximately $3.6 billion in 2010. South Brunswick experienced another decline in ratables of about $5.4 million (2.3 percent) last year. Hochman pointed to her work on both the zoning and planning boards to bring new businesses into South Brunswick to bring new ratables into town.
"This is my area having served on both the planning and zoning board. I voted for the (Target) shopping center on Route 1," she said. "All the years I've been here I was begging the council for something like this. I said we can't go anywhere in town to buy something as simple as a t-shirt because there were no stores. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to give residents something they needed, a shopping center on Route 1. On the Planning Board I was at the front of bringing companies like Coke and Infragistics to South Brunswick. Those were good for South Brunswick and I'm very good at looking for new ratables."
With Hochman said working to get the project moving would be among her top priorities.
"This has been an ongoing issue, it will continue to be an issue and I will fight hard to get that road widened," she said. "We have a one-car breakdown on Route 1 and traffic gets backed up for hours. We residents want to see Route 1 widened and the jughandles fixed, if for nothing else than safety reasons. Cars are piling up on the jughandles and it's not safe."
In addition to widening Route 1, Hochman said the council must look for ways to revitalize the corridor through South Brunswick.
"I want to see both the widening and beautification of Route 1," she said. "I hate people driving through town and seeing abandoned gas stations and empty lots that aren't taken care of. Anything we've passed on the Planning Board I've asked what's the plan for the landscaping. We want Route 1 to look beautiful as people pass through town, because this is a beautiful town."
Hochman said a careful balance of services must be maintained with the need to keep taxes down while still providing for the needs of residents.
"My first priority is always the services that we give to the residents of South Brunswick, especially when it comes to the police and safety," she said. "I think we need to look at the overall budget and see where things can be fine tuned or make it feasible to use the services of the school system in some areas with shared services. But the safety of residents should always come first."
With decades of work as a volunteer in South Brunswick, Hochman said she hopes to continue serving the town as a member of the governing body.
"I care about the residents of this community and I always have," she said. "I'm not just a PTA mom. I've been involved with many boards and have made decisions for the good of residents. I was involved with the Muncipal Alliance, Project Graduation, the medical alert system with the Health Department. I love my town, I love my community and I would do anything I can to help someone."