NEWS, SPORTS, COMMENTARY, POLITICS for Gloucester City and the Surrounding Areas of South Jersey and Philadelphia

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Jenai Gonzales Queen; Kelly Cerrone, runner-up

Why Are You Running For Mayor?

James Give Details For Seeking Office

William James candidate for Gloucester City Mayor in the November 7 election further explains his reasons for seeking the city's highest office. His statement reads as follows:

" It’s time to put the cards on the table. After months of door knocking, sign fabrication, sign and T-shirts acquisitions and distribution, and introductory pamphlet distribution, the issues must be put to the people and it is my responsibility as a mayoral candidate to do so. As the Independent candidate for mayor in column 4 of the upcoming general election, I will first explain my reasons for running for public office.

Being a lifelong resident of this community for what is now 50 years, as well as working the streets and community of Gloucester City for 26 years, moving through the ranks of the Police Department from Patrolman, to Detective, to Sergeant, to Lieutenant and finally retiring as Deputy Chief of Police and being involved in the community through the Gloucester City Police Athletic League, girls softball, little league baseball, midget football, girls and boys basketball, The Sportsman Athletic Club, The Knights of Columbus, The Son’s of American Legion, and the Camden County Emerald Society as well as bag piping for our local high school football team and numerous state, county and city related tragedies and family related tragedies, I’ve been around to witness a lot of change.

I’ve seen politicians and political parties come and go. I’ve seen plans for development come and go. I’ve seen neighborhoods that existed and thrived for many years slowly deteriorate and disappear. I’ve seen businesses and business opportunities come and go and I’ve seen friends and neighbors, who originally chose to reside here because of its close-knit hometown feel, also come and go.

Yes, over the years there have been a lot of changes. A lot of which I’m not content to say I’m happy with.

This idea of running for political office did not come to me overnight. The idea came to me through a principal identified in political venues as Natural Evolution.

Simply put, the principal says that after an individual has, for many years, been deeply involved in a community where he or she resides, as is the case with all three of the Independent candidates, there comes a time when such individuals are approached by family, friends, associates, business persons, past present and future political office holders, school officials and community oriented social clubs and organizations and are asked to run for political office. After careful consideration of whether or not, you as an individual can make a difference and whether or not, you as an individual can make a difference and whether or not you see the need to change, you make up your mind to run for political office.

I see the need for change and I think that I, Nick Marchese and Jay Brophy can and will make a difference.

Over the past years, I’ve seen a community that is losing its hometown feel and appearance. I see and hear of deteriorating neighborhoods, I see vacant and closed storefronts, and I see the streets, and street corners and porches abound with individuals who have no respect for the people around them or conscious care about their own behavior.

The time has come, ladies and gentlemen, to stand up to “the machine,” of a select group of people, who have controlled your lives for far too long. The time has come to “hold the high ground” and stop the decline, to “fight the good fight,” and to give Gloucester City government back to the people.

This town belongs to each and every one of us, and this year, each and every vote can and will make a difference, in both the up and coming election and the future of our community. The opposition will tell you, and I’ve already heard it said, that even if the Independent team is elected, that we will not be able to make any changes.

I say nonsense. Because if it is true, than our political opposition would be willing to let any idea that would save taxpayers’ money and or improve the quality of life within our community, fall upon deaf ears, just because it was introduced by myself or my running mates, then their minds are smaller and more narrow then I’ve previously thought and yes, “It is time for a change.”

It’s time to change whom represents you in City government, and this year, unlike elections of the past, you are given the opportunity to do so. The Independent candidates are not politicians and we are not affiliated with the Democrat or Republican parties of the present or the Independent party of the past. We are three regular guys who are apolitical and unlike politicians our efforts and dedication to community are not lauded in the newspaper.

We prefer to work hard under the radar, avoid of praise, knowing in our hearts that we’re making Gloucester City a better place to grow up as a child and to hopefully encourage that child, to mature as a responsible citizen and stay here and raise a family of their own.

It’s time to change the way the City government has communicated with you. The Independent team is a proponent of supporting and informing the City News of all major and current developments within the community.

We are a strong proponent for more informative use of Channel 19 and for bringing Council meetings back to Channel 19 so everyone can see what actions City government is taking in your behalf. We are not, however, a proponent on the wasteful use of taxpayers monies to generate and distribute “politically tainted election year” mailers that we approximate to cost close to $2,000 quarterly and over $8,000 annually.

We think that money could be better spent bring business and job availabilities into town which was and is the original and singular intent of UEZ monies. If in fact it is true that the city pledges (now) to communicate to you what’s going on in our town, then maybe you can explain to me why it is that since the Independent team announced their candidacy in the City News on June 8 of this year, there have been only two crime reports in the past 18 issues of the weekly edition of the newspaper.

I don’t know about the community as a whole, but me personally, I’d like to know if a pattern of burglaries existed in my neighborhood. I’d like to know if 30 bicycles were stolen from town last month. I’d like to know if police responded to a call and arrested an armed and wanted suspect at gunpoint or that the police finally arrested the guy you suspected of selling drugs in you neighborhood, and that he was successfully prosecuted.

We should at the very least be informed of such situations for the purpose of public safety and to just as importantly understand the dedication and efforts of our police officers in providing us with a safe community.

It is time to change the way we deal with out of town and absentee landlords. The rental business in this town is a multi million dollar a year business; with in a lot of cases, little or no concern for previously established, safe neighborhoods. Last year the City collected 1,920 rental fees and this number has almost doubled since 2001. The availability of Section 8 rentals within the community is perpetuating the community’s reliance on an overly generous welfare system, in some cases 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation dependence and this is making it unaffordable for the working man to rent at a fair rate.

Section 8 rentals are advertised at between $1,000 and $1,300 a month plus utilities for a three-bedroom residence, while the non-section 8 rentals for similar properties go for between $700 and $800 plus utilities. We in the Independent party realize that legally we cannot stop these investors from making Section 8 homes available, but we do pledge to hold them accountable for the actions of their tenants and the failure to upkeep their properties.

What we have to, as a City, is aggressively encourage, promote and assist in home ownership and make every attempt to lawfully slow the ever increasing numbers of rental properties in the community and to encourage the zoning and planning boards to discontinue the practice of allowing the conversion of single family properties into duplexes and duplexes into triplexes. What we should be doing is encouraging the need to turn these properties back into single-family homes through tax incentives.

The Independent team believes we have reached the point where we are well above the normal standards as it relates to the availability of affordable housing within a community and to continue to standby without addressing this situation in an aggressive manner will surely be detrimental to our neighborhoods of the future.

You don’t have to look far to the north of our community to see what the affects of the proliferation of welfare and Section 8 as it relates to the housing issues can have on a community. The Fairview section of Camden City is a prime and unmistakable example of the failure of government to act. We say too little has been done in this regard and that our oppositions’ election year effort, are too late to fool even the uninformed voter.

As I have already mentioned in many forums throughout this campaign, Shared Services and consolidated purchases of equipment and supplies are going to be necessary agreements to forge between neighboring small municipalities. The State of New Jersey is making it quite clear that a failure to embrace these concepts and aggressively pursue these types of agreements will directly affect future considerations related to state aid.

Our municipality has already experienced the effectiveness and the financial benefits of one such agreement.

The Gloucester City, Brooklawn, Bellmawr, Mount Ephraim, and Runnemede Police Departments, staffed, trained and equipped a critical response team to address high risk entries and hostage/barricade subject situations that occur in the five, individually governed municipalities. The benefits related to public safety and the reduced financial hardships related to both, sustaining the unit and in the event of a necessary response, are immeasurable.

We have to find ways to incorporate this concept with neighboring Highway Departments, Water and/Sewage Departments and Fire and EMS Services to keep our monies within the municipalities instead of relying on and paying expensive outside contractors.

I am confident in the abilities of our present workforce and I believe that by making consolidated purchases of equipment necessary to address whatever foreseeable emergency task that may face us and to provide whatever training is necessary to certify our personnel in the handling of such situations, we will become more self-sufficient and less reliant on the uncontrollable expenses that are replaced on the taxpayers by outside contractors.

We have to step out of the mindset that has our community reactive to situations that occur and instead become more proactive. We have to strive to look into the future and work on our preparedness to, with the help of our surrounding neighboring communities, become more and more self-sufficient.

With a lot of issues that still need to be addressed which we have identified through talking with the citizenry during the course of our campaign, I will close with the following statement. Each and everyone of us, as citizens of Gloucester City, has the inherent responsibility to stand up and fight for our hometown when we feel our needs and wishes are not being met.

A government for the people provides the citizenry and business community with the resources and services that are required for them to flourish in a community that is safe, non-intimidating and full of opportunities.

There comes a time in political arenas when change is necessary, and that time is when the interests of the party supersede the good of the people it represents.

Do me just one favor before you go to the voting booth on November 7th and take a ride around town, and open your eyes and if you like what you see, vote for them.

If you don’t like what you see, vote Column 4 Independent. Vote James, Marchese and Brophy.

William P. James,

Independent Candidate for Mayor

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