Armando Quiroz IV, Craig Kleinfield Are the Democratic Choices in Barnegat
Democrats Armando Quiroz IV and Craig Kleinfield are hoping to break the Republican Party’s stronghold on the Barnegat Township Committee as they seek two seats on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Quiroz is seeking the three-year term while Kleinfeld is running for the one-year unexpired term.
Quiroz, 25, served on the Barnegat Board of Education when he was 19. He teaches Spanish in the Montgomery Township School District in Somerset County. He formerly taught at Barnegat High School and Monmouth Regional High School. Kleinfield, 71, is a retired sales manager in the plastic lamination supply business.
“You look all over town and we have parks and playgrounds that are in deteriorating condition,” said Quiroz. “Yet the committee passed a budget with a tax increase of more than 7 cents (per $100 assessed value). Taxes go up and services go down. My niece and nephew are being raised in Barnegat, and when I speak to other parents throughout the town, they tell me they take their kids outside of Barnegat to use playgrounds in Manahawkin, LBI (Long Beach Island), even Waretown. If you can’t take your kids to the local parks, how can you possibly be proud of your town? This has been an issue that has been going on for years, and nothing changes.”
A 2009 graduate of Barnegat High School, Quiroz said that while the township raises taxes, the people “are receiving less.”
“We had a skate park which the kids would use after school, but now it is used as parking lot so now that’s one less thing the kids can do after school,” ,” he said. “Taxes go up, but I see police officers working in inadequate facilities, where water is leaking from the roof. But what is saddest of all is that while the taxes are increasing, many good people are leaving, many people who I have called friends. And for each family who leaves, there are many more who are pledging to go.”
He said that was a far cry from the town he moved to 15 years ago, when it was called the “number one place to live in Ocean County.”
“I was very fortunate to have been raised in that Barnegat,” said Quiroz. “I haven’t given up on Barnegat, and that’s why I’m running. I want to set a vision for Barnegat’s future that will not be determined by politicians or Realtors, but one that reflects the community and the people of Barnegat Township.”
Kleinfield said he began taking an interest in township matters after retiring five years ago.
“I’ve lived on the same street (Deck Street) for the past 38 years, and I don’t think it has ever been repaved,” he said. “We have a lot of commercial development going on in town with officials saying that this will offset our property tax burden, but I don’t think these retail stores will make that much of an impact. Of course, we’re probably also limited because we have Route 9 while Stafford has a large area along Route 72.”
He said what drew him to Barnegat was that it was“ a nice, quiet town.”
“There have been numerous residential developments approved by the township in the last few years,” he said. “These developments will probably raise our taxes because it will require more services and other expenses.”
Kleinfeld said if the members of the township committee were interested in cutting costs, they would start with eliminating their health benefits.
“They’re not like township employees,” he said. “I would like to see a forensic audit by an outside agency, someone who does not have any ties to Barnegat. Then maybe we would get a better idea on how our money is really being spent.”
Kleinfeld said that while the township has seen a huge population growth through the adult communities, he feels Barnegat does not have adequate recreational facilities for seniors.
“They have plenty of activities within their adult communities, but I’d like to see there be shuffleball courts and other senior-oriented facilities at our public parks.”
Like Quiroz, Kleinfeld said families have to take their children to surrounding communities because of the condition of the parks.
“I’m just looking to be a voice on the committee that can hopefully bring change,” he said.
— Eric Englund