Lakewood, NJ – Two, three-year terms on the five-member Township Committee are up for grabs with two incumbents, one Democrat and one Republican, vying for re-election.
Committeeman Raymond Coles, 53, of Ventura Drive, the sole Democrat and most senior committee member, is seeking re-election. Republican Steven Langert, 45, of South Lake Drive, who is completing his first term on the committee, is also competing for another term.
Political newcomers running this year are Republican Harold “Hal” Halvorsen, 68, of Bennington Lane and Democrat Moshe Raitzik, 35, of North Crest Place.
Coles said he offers a calming influence on the Township Committee. His experience and connections in the township helps him get the job done.
“I am very comfortable working with the diverse communities of Lakewood,” he said. “I would like to help the township get through the current economic crisis” by keeping the his promise to make Lakewood an affordable, comfortable, safe place for everyone to live.
The second phase of an affordable housing project was started last week on Coles Way, a street named after the committeeman’s dedication to affordable housing. Coles said he wants to see low-income rental property there as well as affordable units for sale.
Langert has been a proponent of budget line item scrutiny. He said he saved taxpayers more than $1.2 million on the renegotiated emergency medical services contract and consolidated the municipal health insurance under one carrier.
Langert said he has been heavily involved in resolving a major township issue – the lack of sewer lines – that held up organized “smart development.”
“It has to be done in a smart way,” Langert said of Lakewood’s projected development.
Langert said he has worked with a committee to resolve the issue with the New Jersey American Water Co., which also provides the sewer services for the town.
As liaison to the inspection department, Langert said he found the department was losing massive revenue and he instituted reforms.”We paid attention to the bottom line,” he said. “It wasn’t easy but it had to be done. Through attrition there are less employees but we were able to avoid layoffs.”
Halvorsen, Langert’s running mate, is new to the political game but has served on community boards when he lived Toms River before moving six years ago to the Enclave senior community. If elected, he would be the first resident of an adult community to sit on the Township Committee.
As a committee member, Halvorsen said he would work to increase the tax base by providing opportunities for the Jewish population in Lakewood to open businesses to grow the commercial and industrial tax base.
Raitzik, a school teacher at Yeshiva Kol Torah in Lakewood, said he changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat when the Regular Republican Committee chose Halvorsen over him.
Raitzik has served two terms on the Ocean County Republican Committee. Raitzik said party affiliation at the local level is not as critical as it is in other political arenas.
“People don’t want crime and they want their children to get a good education,” Raitzik said, adding he routinely votes against budgets.