The president of the Bay Avenue Business Alliance, and a past president of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce last night honed in on the "40 or so" vacant businesses in Manahawkin, saying he felt the restrictions placed upon small business owners in town may be pushing them out of town.
Dave Taylor, who is running as part of the "We Are Stafford," slate of candidates in the November election, said in his positions he has often heard from local business owners about the legal hoops they wrangle with in Stafford, which he sees as "a little overregulated" compared with other towns.
"My favorite story to tell is the woman who had to get a full-blown site plan to fix her stairs," Taylor said, adding "that's ridiculous."
Taylor made his comments during a "meet and greet" for "We Are Stafford," held last night at the Ocean Acres Community Center.
According to the panel's Campaign Manager Eric Libenschek, "the reason for the appearance at this meeting is so the public can meet all the 'We Are Stafford' candidates at one location."
"We are Stafford" includes Mayoral candidate Paul Marchal, Taylor, Joanne Sitek, Christopher McManus, Esther Libenschek, Ben Pieper, and Brian Corley White for Council. Marchal is one of two independent candidates taking on incumbent Republican Mayor John Spodofora in the November election. Democrat Joseph Rua withdrew from the mayor's race a few weeks ago.
Another independent candidate, who is not affiliated with "We Are Stafford," Thomas Litwin, of the Beach Haven West section recently for trying to sell marijuana to an undercover police officer.
Candidates have until September to withdraw.
Libenschek said the "We are Stafford" team is "very interested in the concerns of our fellow residents and would like to use this forum for their voices to be heard."
He said that their team of candidates has a diverse background that can address a wide range of needs within the township.
Marchal, for instance, has worked in financial analysis, which he told audiences last night could prove very helpful for a town that is upward of $155 million in debt, according to figures quoted at the meeting last night.
Everyone on the panel fired at the township's bonding debt, noting "how difficult it is to sustain the cost of living in Stafford, with water, sewer and general taxation expenses." The slate said one of their goals is to "publish actual and factual township debt for the last 10 years based upon CFO and township documents."
Marchal added that the variety of experience on the slate's team would be an asset in a variety of areas: Sitek serves on the Council now, so brings that experience with her; Corley White is an attorney, so would be an asset on legal issues; Libenschek has experience working with local parish councils and she spearheaded the successful "Senior Scam Seminar" last year.
Rounding out the ticket, Marchal said, is Pieper, who moved to Ocean Acres in 1994 and has attended council metings for years, and McManus, who is currently attending Stockton and has gone through all of the local Stafford schools, putting a youthful perspective on the issues.