The following are the letters submitted to the editor of MercerMe:
“Immigration Today” Community Dialogue
To the Editor:
On Wednesday evening (9/27/17), I attended the “Immigration Today” Community Dialogue event in Titusville. The information I gleaned there has reaffirmed my interest in having Hopewell Township adopt Fair and Welcoming City guidelines for local police interactions with federal immigration law enforcement (ICE).
One of the speakers was Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter. His experience over more than 20 years in law enforcement was compelling: people in the undocumented community assume that local police will enforce federal immigration law, and as a result, they are too afraid to come forward with evidence to help police solve crimes. He noted that their fear was especially strong after the Princeton Police Department had cooperated during an ICE action in the city by closing off streets with Princeton PD vehicles. Princeton police became the face of ICE actions, and trust in the police was greatly damaged. Eventually, Princeton PD created a clear, standardized policy for how it will interact with ICE actions and ICE detainer requests. This has improved the department’s relationship with the community, and the police chief reported that his officers also found the clear guidelines very helpful.
Earlier this year, after the President and Attorney General threatened to take federal funding away from municipalities that prevent local police from enforcing federal immigration law, I was very concerned about the economic consequences for Hopewell Township, if we became a Fair and Welcoming City. I have researched this issue and am happy to report that we have little to worry about on this front.
First of all, past Supreme Court rulings specify that conditions can only be put on federal funds if they are closely related to the purpose of those funds, so this would only affect federal funding that Hopewell might receive for law enforcement and public safety purposes. More importantly, a federal judge just ruled in September that the Department of Justice’s attempt to withhold public safety grants is unconstitutional (only Congress can create conditions for receiving federal funds, and thus far they have not done so in relation to immigration law enforcement). The President and Attorney General can not take federal funds away from Hopewell Township if we move to preserve public safety by becoming a Fair and Welcoming City.
With this assurance, I urge the Hopewell Township Committee and Hopewell Township Police Department to adopt a policy such as Fair and Welcoming City guidelines to ensure that the immigrants who live and work in our town feel comfortable calling police if they witness a crime.
Jamie Evanini, Hopewell Township
Kuchinski for Hopewell Township Committee on Township’s Rural Character
To the Editor:
Hopewell Township is undeniably a special place, with its rolling hills and farmland, miles of recreational trails, strong schools, and a cohesive community spirit. The people of Hopewell Township look out for one another and we’ve worked together over the years to build a strong community.
I believe in giving back to the community and that’s why I have served on the Hopewell Township Committee the last three years, and am running for re-election. Together, we have made strong progress in protecting Hopewell Valley’s rural character.
With FoHVOS, the Watershed, the NJ Conservation Foundation, and other area groups and municipalities, we worked to preserve open space across Hopewell Township. This includes the dedication of the new Mt. Rose Preserve that prevented the construction of hundreds of new homes and the resulting traffic. With our Agricultural Advisory Committee, we have sourced outside grant monies to preserve working farms, ensuring families can afford to continue farming their land and pass it on to the next generation. And we have fought to keep sewers and the associated unchecked development out of currently pristine areas of the Township.
Looking ahead, we must continue the fight to protect our quality of life. This includes stopping the PennEast pipeline. I have been and will continue to be on the front lines of this battle, in partnership with fellow residents, other elected officials and environmental organizations.
We will also partner with the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) organization to complete the trail and make Hopewell a more walk-able/bike-able community. Just this year, we lobbied for and were granted a $1 million state grant (one of only seven in New Jersey) to complete one of the last remaining segments off of Carter Road.
My running mate, Michael Ruger, currently serves on the Environmental Commission and shares these values. He and I are committed to protecting Hopewell Township and preserving its rural character.
Let’s work together to keep Hopewell Township green and affordable. On November 7th, please vote for both Kevin Kuchinski and Michael Ruger for Hopewell Township Committee.
Kevin D. Kuchinski, Democratic Candidate for Hopewell Township Committee
True Fiscal Conservatives Support Kuchinski-Ruger for Township Committee
To the Editor:
I read with interest that one of the newly announced Republican candidates for Hopewell Township Committee claims to be a fiscal conservative.
If that’s really the case, perhaps he should drop out of the race and endorse Democratic candidates Kevin Kuchinski and Michael Ruger for Township Committee. They are the true champions of fiscal responsibility in Hopewell Valley.
Over the past two years, Mayor Kuchinski has reined in out-of-control spending and delivered a 2017 budget that is below 2015 spending levels. The Township is doing more with less, while restoring bulky waste, rebuilding our Public Works fleet after the fire, and paying down debt, so that we and our children are not held hostage to high future interest costs.
Michael Ruger, as a member of the Finance Advisory Committee, has gone through the township’s budget line-by-line, challenging unnecessary spending and championing debt reduction so that we can eliminate the $1.5 million plus in interest expenses that prior Republican Committees burdened us with.
Kevin Kuchinski and Michael Ruger aren’t just talking the talk on fiscal responsibility; they have taken concrete actions to cut spending and keep taxes as low as possible. And they will continue to do so if re-elected.
On November 7th, please join me in supporting the true fiscal conservatives in Hopewell Township by voting for BOTH Kevin Kuchinski and Michael Ruger, Democrats for Hopewell Township Committee.
Billie Moore, Hopewell Township
Kuchinsky, Ruger Campaign Misrepresents Facts
To the Editor:
Does anyone really believe that Democrat candidates Kevin Kuchinsky and Michael Ruger, their campaign manager Peter Sandford or supporter Courtney Peters-Manning are not aware that, in 2013 and 2014, Democrat Vanessa Sandom was mayor with a Democrat majority on the Hopewell Township Committee, when they complain about prior tax increases? Or is something more sinister than mere ignorance going on when they falsely claimed that Republicans controlled the Township Committee during those years, in each of their recent letters to the editor (10/2, 10/2, 10/5, 10/8)?
Apparently, the Kuchinsky-Ruger campaign has so little respect for the voters, or for themselves, that they can make such a blatantly false claim, which is easily subject to being disproven by fact-checking or a good memory.
Similarly, both Kuchinsky (10/5) and Sandford (10/2) also falsely claimed in their letters that “Hopewell Township once again has the lowest equalized tax rate in Mercer County,” which is another easily disproven falsehood. A visit to the Mercer County Board of Taxation website shows that Hopewell Township is not even one of the lowest three equalized tax rates in Mercer County in 2017. We were not the lowest equalized tax rate last year, in 2016, either according to the County Board of Taxation website – proving a double distortion.
Is deceiving the public fun, Candidates Kuchinsky and Ruger? Apparently so, when you choose to run a dishonest campaign.
Harvey Lester, Titusville, NJ
Ruger for Hopewell Township Committee Supporting Senior Citizens
To the Editor:
Hopewell Township is a great place to live for seniors. My mother moved here several years ago and has made many new friends. My mother-in-law, June Vogler, lived in the Township for over 40 years. She moved to Four Seasons in Brandon Farms shortly after it was built.
But we can make the Township even better for seniors. Our seniors have given much to our community through their taxes and civic involvement. And our community needs to give back in return. We particularly need to ensure that everyone —including nonprofit groups, religious organizations, and local government— take the steps necessary to allow seniors who want to remain in their homes to do so.
Last year, Hopewell Township hired a new senior services coordinator. She serves as a single point of contact for our seniors to call to learn about all the services and activities in the community.
Last week, the Township Committee approved an agreement to keep the Senior Center in Pennington Borough open. Thanks to an innovative, cost-effective solution, repairs and improvements will be made through contributions from the municipalities, the County, and local businesses.
And earlier this year, the Township Committee approved funding to explore design options for a new senior and community center. This action, coupled with the survey to collect local opinion on a center (a requirement to unlock $1.5 million in Mercer County funds), represents significant progress towards construction of a center.
All of these actions happened under a Democratic-led Township Committee.
Mayor Kevin Kuchinski and I will continue to support our seniors. We will not turn the clock back on the progress that has been made, or turn our backs on our seniors.
Please vote for Kevin Kuchinski and Michael Ruger for Hopewell Township Committee. For more information about our campaign, please visit our Facebook page at Kuchinski and Ruger for Hopewell Township.
Michael Ruger, Democratic Candidate for Hopewell Township Committee
Letter in Support of Kuchinski and Ruger for Hopewell Township Committee
To the Editor:
I write in support of Mayor Kevin Kuchinski and his running mate Michael Ruger as my personal choice in the upcoming election for the Hopewell Township Committee.
Since my retirement in 2013, I have had the opportunity to become more involved in the government of the Township having been asked to serve on the Township Planning Board. I have come to know both of these men very well and believe them to be self-giving leaders of honesty and integrity.
Under the leadership of our current Township Committee, our community has struggled with some very difficult issues. We have faced the affordable housing dilemma head on, trying to balance the legal mandate from the New Jersey Supreme Court for affordable housing, while striving to limit the impact of unreasonable overdevelopment in Hopewell Township.
It has been a challenge, but I know that Mayor Kuchinski and the members of our Township Committee have given us a chance to meet the challenges through wise and careful negotiations.
I have also witnessed an open and transparent budgeting process that has been beneficial to all of us by holding down our municipal taxes while maintaining the services that we have come to expect in our community. Both Kevin and Michael have been a part of that process. I appreciate their stewardship.
We have been waiting for far too long for action addressing the need for a senior/community center. The pleas of our seniors seem to have fallen on deaf ears! Finally, under the leadership of our current Township Committee, concrete actions are being taken toward both keeping the current Pennington Center open and planning for a new center. There is still much to plan and negotiate with the leadership of our neighboring municipalities, but the signs for the future are very hopeful.
I have lived, worked, and served in our community for 40 years. I am excited about our future and believe that Kevin Kuchinski and Michael Ruger are vitally important leaders to plan the progressive path forward as we face the challenges and the opportunities ahead.
Rev. Canon Jack Belmont, Hopewell Township