Four Candidates Campaign for Little Egg Harbor Committee

Two Seats Open on Township Government
By PAT JOHNSON | Oct 05, 2018
Photo by: Supplied Little Egg Harbor Candidates for Committee in gallery.

There are two three-year seats up for election on the Little Egg Harbor Township Committee. This year incumbent Democrat David Schlick is running for re-election with a newcomer to campaigning, Todd Nugent, as his Democratic running mate. Incumbent Lisa Stevens is seeking re-election as a Republican after switching allegiance two years ago since she was originally elected as a Democrat. She is joined by campaign newcomer Blaise Scibetta, a lifelong Republican.

Republicans currently hold a 4-1 majority on the township committee.

Committeewoman Lisa Stevens is a retired social worker for the state Family and Children Services, where she learned to “make hard decisions” and also learned that there are “three sides to every story.”

“I’m a good listener and problem solver. This is important for good government,” she said. “The knowledge and people skills I gained in the field of social work allowed me to bring that to the township in terms of helping residents with issues. I’m about families and the under-served people in town.”

Stevens said keeping the environment of Great Bay and Little Egg Harbor clean is one of her campaign promises.

“The waterfront is very important to me. It’s my backyard. When I see a plastic bag or bottle in there, I fish it out.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Green Team and Sustainable New Jersey. I also work with our recycling coordinator, Carol Evans. Using our recycling funds, we worked on creating reusable cloth bags with the township logo, and we hand them out at the public works yard.”

When residents bring in their recyclables, they may get a bag in return to use for shopping, rather than getting plastic bags at the grocery, she explained.

“The Sustainable New Jersey program allows us to get grants that reduce taxes. We received a bronze plaque in 2014-17 and another bronze for 2017-20. The schools also have a Green Team, and I was invited to one of their meetings. When we partner with the schools, we get more points and better rankings, and more money comes back to the township.

“One of the things I learned is you might have the best intentions of recycling, but your jars and plastic bottles should be clean. Rinse them out. Otherwise, they are put in the garbage.

“And don’t put plastic bags in the household recycling. I went to the recycling plant in Lakewood, and they have to stop the machines three or four times a day to use machetes to cut the plastic bags off. It was eye-opening.”

She also said she helped develop a vegetable garden at the food pantry. This year it grew over 600 pounds of fresh vegetables for the food pantry.

Stevens shares her running mate’s concerns about the opioid epidemic. She recently attended a presentation by Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato at Cavalry Baptist Church in Parkertown. “There were community speakers, and we dialogued on how to put together an educational methodology on how to combat it. Pastor Mike (Dellaperate) made that a mission.”

Stevens is involved with the New Jersey Organizing Project, which she helped to found after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. “There are still people who are homeless after Sandy. About four times a month I get an email, ‘Can you help me out? I’m still fighting with RREM over claw-backs’ (of federal disaster relief construction funding).

“I’m proud of what we accomplished with state officials over increasing the rental assistance back in 2014. The cap was $800 a month, and we proved that it was impossible to rent for that in shore communities; and it was increased to $1,300.

“We’re still working on the claw-back issue, and hopefully we will get legislation passed to wipe the slate clean. I know people who are facing a claw-back of $85,000.

“One of my big goals from the start has been to finalize a Veterans Park in town, something we have wanted for years. We have the open space on Radio Road, and now we have the funds to help build the park from the Open Space Trust Fund. The goal is to work with the veterans, as this is their park.”

Blaise Scibetta, 38, is married to Janet, a pediatric PA (physician assistant) and they have three children, two in the local school system. His family has resided in Little Egg Harbor for over 10 years.

He has been in the auto industry for about 20 years and has been general manager of Lester Glenn Hyundai in Toms River since April of this year. This is his first time running for an elected office.

“Being part of the Republican Club, I spoke with my wife, and we decided it was a good way for me to give back to the community using the talents and experience I have accumulated from being in business.”

Scibetta already serves as a member of the Little Egg Harbor Community Advisory Board. He has been a team captain of the Walk for MS event for five years. He volunteered twice on Hurricane Katrina relief missions with Little Egg Harbor churches and N.C. Baptist Men’s Builders.

He supports local organizations such as Great Bay EMS, Little Egg Harbor Community Color Run, Little Egg Harbor Food Pantry, HEAAT Foundation, Tuckerton Seaport and an annual community cleanup. His auto dealership is helping to sponsor the upcoming Trunk or Treat event at the community center.

“I made the decision to run for township committee because I believe I can take my organizational skills, as well as my financial knowledge, to better our entire community,” he said during a recent breakfast at JTs Restaurant. “I firmly believe that a person who really cares and has the drive to be a leader can make a difference.

“Having worked in the automotive industry, I have been in charge of millions of dollars of inventory. My ability to work with supervisors to plan and balance a budget for success qualifies me for public office. And my work with various nonprofit organizations to make our community a better place has given me the initiative to work as a member of our township’s governing body.

“With my strong work ethic, my agenda would be to stabilize or lower taxes. My goal is to help fight substance and drug addiction, bring new relevant businesses to our town, and to upgrade our parks system for our families and youth.”

To prepare himself for the job, he has been guided by Stevens, his running mate, and the people he trusts in the Republican Club. He has attended all the township meetings this year “except for one.”

“I’ve taken a lot of notes and done research on the internet on the procedures of government.

“My key points, when I become a committeeman, is to be team orientated. Whether the political party is in the majority or the minority, it’s a team operation. That’s what makes Little Egg Harbor good; it’s a team effort. And you need a team effort to keep it going in a positive direction.

“My three main objectives: To address stabilizing, then lowering taxes. From working in business, I know about budgets. We’ll be looking at each line item to see what is benefiting the community and what’s not, and change that to benefit the community.

“My second objective is to work with local churches in fighting the opioid issue in town. This issue affects everyone: seniors, young families, employers, everyone. If we can improve that, then that attracts more businesses, and people want to live here. It makes everything better.

“And three, I’d like to bring more relevant businesses to town. I’d like to work with various local organizations: Great Bay Rotary, chamber of commerce; any positive group to do that.”

Committeeman David Schlick is a retired business agent for Dry Wall and Finishers Union 1976 out of Hammonton. A lifelong resident of Little Egg Harbor, he is a graduate of Pinelands Regional High School, where his daughter is a senior. He is engaged to Paula Bell, who is campaigning this fall for mayor of Tuckerton.

Schlick and Nugent, his running mate, went to school together at Pinelands. They are running under the slogan “Hometown Pride.”

“We are both vested in the community. We have lived here all our lives and want to continue,” said Schlick. “It’s a pleasure running with Todd,” he added.

Beside his three years on the township committee, Schlick was president of the Great Bay Democratic Club for one year. He is a lifelong communicant of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and belongs to the following clubs: the Italian American Club, Loyal Order of Red Men Lodge, Great Bay Rotary and the Little Egg Harbor Township Chamber of Commerce. He and Nugent are co-founders of the online Community and Business Buildup, a social club that meets once a month in a local restaurant.

Of his accomplishments over the last three years, Schlick is most proud of co-founding the LEHT Chamber of Commerce, a process that took two years. He also was instrumental in the Flags for Heroes display established by the Rotary.

“The Run for the Fallen guys were impressed,” he remarked.

What gives him the most pleasure serving on the mostly Republican committee (he is the only Democrat) is his interaction with residents. “Throwing out the first pitch for the Little League was great,” he remembered. “I really enjoy the ribbon-cuttings for new business openings, and attending a birthday party for a 100-year-old lady. She’s 103 now, and I’ve been to all of her (latest) birthdays.

“I help someone every day,” Schlick continued. “I have instant messaging, and every day I get at least two inquiries, and I address both of them.”

Despite the difficulty of getting his ideas passed by the Republican majority, “I love my job,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to get the hockey rink out at the recreation fields changed into a dog park, but it’s difficult.”

As to being a minority member on the committee, “People ask me if I regret it. And so far, not yet. Plus, I get to poke the Republicans occasionally at the meetings,” he added.

Something he would like to see change on the committee, if re-elected, is a more transparent government.

“We’re elected by the people and for the people. And some of the committee members have been there so long, they don’t know how to be the voice of the people; they have their own agendas.”

He would like to see local businesses succeed. “The new chamber will bring fresh money and business into town.”

The Little Egg Harbor Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Harvest Fest on Nov. 3 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Little Egg Harbor Recreation Fields. Besides local business and organization vendors, and food trucks, “We’re going to have nine bounce houses, a DJ all day. The county is supplying the stage, and we will also have two bands and a mechanical bull. We’re going to have a dunk tank, and yes, I’m going to be in it.”

Todd Nugent is also a lifelong resident of Little Egg Harbor and graduate of Pinelands Regional High. He is married, and he and wife Susan have five children ranging in age from 11 to 26. He is the owner of Synatech Inc., a local business that deals with air quality and environmental issues such as mold and asbestos. He also has three other businesses: Enviro Products, Coast to Coast Insurance and Maverick Homes. He employs 20 people in his nationwide business, he said.

He is also an entrepreneur with ideas for products that lead him in many directions. For instance, on the day of the interview, he and his wife were working on finishing bags to cover dialysis machines to protect them from floodwater. He had sent his products and his Synatech employees to help in Puerto Rico’s crisis situation stemming from Hurricane Maria last year.

“We have a video of how we helped down there. We did as much as we could. We participated on food drives.”

Another project he hopes will come to fruition soon in Little Egg Harbor is his idea for a “bubble” indoor sports complex on Route 539. He is developing the specifications in his engineering department and looking for funding.

“It will provide good jobs for area people,” he said.

That’s one of the reasons why he decided to run for public office. “I like what Dave (Schlick) was doing. I have five children, and I want them to stay in the community when they grow up. That’s what Hometown Pride is about: elevating the reputation of the area. I’d like to spin it around so the kids stay in the area. We should want that as a committee.

“Our campaign donated the camera that is used to live-stream the township meetings on the chamber website, You don’t have to own a business to be on it, but you do have to register to view the meetings.”

Nugent said having more than one party on the committee is crucial. “It’s like they (Republicans) are rubber stamping everything, without getting everyone’s point of view. If you are running a corporation and you have a board and all the board members have the same point of view, you won’t get any new ideas, and you are not representing all the people.”

Nugent is a Mason, a member of the Little Egg Harbor Township Chamber of Commerce and the Community and Business Build Up social club he co-founded, and he attends the Tuckerton Methodist Church.

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