The mayoralty and three seats on the Fair Haven Borough Council are up for grabs in the November 6 election.
On the ballot are Republican Mayor Ben Lucarelli, who is running unopposed; incumbent Republican Councilwoman Betsy Koch and her Republican running mates Jim Banahan and Jacquie Rice; and Democrats Evan Hughes, Cameron Spector and Carolyn Williams.
Here are Rice’s written responses to questions posed to all Fair Haven candidates recently by redbankgreen.
Name: Jacqueline Rice
Address: 45 Maple Avenue, Fair Haven, NJ 07704
How long have you been a resident of Fair Haven? 13 years
Where did you grow up? Union Beach, NJ
Where did you go to high school? St John Vianney, Holmdel, NJ
Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree?
Yes, I graduated from Ashford University with a degree in Health and Human Services.
Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when? No.
What do you do for a living?
Currently I am raising 2 children ages 12 and 10. I also work part-time for Rice Associates, Inc doing clerical work.
Please tell us a little bit about your community involvement efforts, if any.
I have been a member of the Foundation of Fair Haven since 2012. The Foundation raises funds and organizes events such as Fair Haven Day and Octoberfest as a means to bring the community together.
I have been a member of the Fair Haven Recreation Committee since January 2018. The committee organizes kids camps, adult and senior programs throughout the year. We also monitor our parks and identify areas that need improvement.
I am a member of the Junior League of Monmouth County. I joined in 2012 and have served positions on the State Public Affairs Committee which advocates to improve the lives of women and children in the state of NJ. I served on the Board of Directors for the 2016-17 year. I have also served on the building operations committee.
I am a Steering Committee member for the Running and Winning Workshop. This is a one day workshop organized by members of the Junior League of Monmouth County, the League of Women Voters, the AAUW and Haddassa of Red Bank. The workshop brings together junior year high school girls, introduces them to local women in government and guides them through a mock presentation process to their School Board of Education to advocate for change. The workshops goal is to encourage these young women to take leadership roles or run for office in the future.
Party affiliation: Republican
How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?
I identify with the values of the Republican party from a fiscal standpoint. Smaller government and keeping taxes level or possibly lowering them is a priority. I would like to add that party affiliation has become polarizing in this country over the last few years. The election in Fair Haven is more about who is qualified for the job rather than what their party affiliation may be.
Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why?
Honestly, I do not have a specific person who I can pick out. I admire all of the strong women who came before me and ran for political office or took leadership roles in their lives. It is because of their efforts that I am not only able to run for office but have the courage to know that I have a voice and an opinion that matters.
Why are you running for office?
I am running for office because I find the process of governing to be fascinating and I want to be a part of the decision making process. Our town of Fair Haven is an awesome place to live but there are always ways that it can be improved while maintaining our small town culture. I feel with my volunteer experience, my education and my roots in the community, I can be a beneficial addition to the council.
What’s your opinion of the proposed borough acquisition of the former Sunoco station for the purpose of constructing a new borough hall?
I know that capital improvements are needed for our town facilities. Our police station is not up to code as far as the holding cell and we do not have the proper facilities for our female officer. There is a mold issue in the building plus the current station is in a residential neighborhood. I am in agreement with the current council that a new police station is needed. Building a new station at the former Sunoco station will solve the issue of moving the station from the residential neighborhood and providing a new, up to code facility. By incorporating the borough offices with the new station building we will have all of our government offices located in the same location. This move will then open up the current Boro offices to be used as meeting rooms for the many committees we have in town, allow us to expand our library and have a bigger facility for our Youth Center.
What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them?
First and foremost would be the costs associated with the capital improvements. There is a plan to downsize the current DPW facility. I will work with the council to ensure that the property at the current facility will be sold, along with current police station, at a profit to help offset the costs of the new Boro Hall/Police station.
Second is finding ways for seniors to be able to remain in town. I would work with the town to try and provide 55 and older housing. An excellent opportunity for this housing would be to have it built on the property the town would sell off from the DPW site. There are also ways that seniors can appeal their taxes if they feel their house is appraised too high. Plus there is a state program called The Senior Freeze which will freeze eligible seniors from property tax increases. I would like to arrange seminars for seniors to attend where they can be counseled on the process and given assistance in filing out the forms.
What if any specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?
I would like to implement an emergency brush pickup program. This program would allow residents who have trees (small) or branches that fall after a storm to call Boro Hall and be put on a “special” pick up list. Residents would be given a time, say a week after the storm, to call and the DPW would pick up the debris. This would alleviate residents from having to store these branches on their property until the next brush pick up.
I would also revamp the entire brush pick up schedule. When I first moved to town in 2005, we did not have piles of leaves and brush cluttering our streets. I know we have cut back on the DPW staff but we have to find a better way to address this situation.
I plan to investigate new ways to keep McCarter Park and Schwenkers Pond clean. I know the Boro has been working to clean them up but we still have the same problem with the algae. A working solution needs to be found.
I also plan to examine the DPW and find ways for them to work more efficiently. This does not mean that I have any desire to eliminate positions, I feel we are at the bare bones of staff right now. What I would like to examine is how responsibilities are being assigned and see how the process can be altered to ensure the town needs are being met while making sure that the workload is distributed fairly and evenly.
If there’s anything you’d like to add, please do so here:
Although I have lived in town for 13 years, my husband’s family has been here for over 100. My children are the fifth generation of Rice’s to live in this town. I understand the values of our town and what makes it so special. I love living here and hope that one day my children will choose to raise families here also. If I am given the opportunity to serve on Council I will do everything I can to ensure our small town community values remain while continually looking to the future.