Candidates for Hopewell Township Committee answer questions


Following are questions posed to each of the candidates for Hopewell Township Committee and their answers, in order of how we received them.

Courtney Peters-Manning, Democrat, Incumbent. Peters-Manning is running for her second three-year term and is currently Mayor.

1.     What do you think is the most pressing issue facing Hopewell Township?

Courtney Peters-Manning

The two most pressing issues facing Hopewell Township are property taxes and preserving open space and our environment.  

On taxes, this year we accomplished the first tax rate decrease in 15 years. We did this not by slashing the services residents need and expect, but by working hard to both reduce municipal debt, and by attracting more commercial taxpayers to the Township. When commercial taxpayers pay an increasing share of the tax levy, residents pay less while still receiving the same level of services. If re-elected, I will continue to work to attract the right businesses to the Township who will both protect both the financial health of our community as well as our shared environment.   

Preserving our open space and environmental resources is also vital. Over the past three years, 978 acres of open space and 240 acres of farmland have been preserved in Hopewell Township. I am a lifelong environmentalist, and David and I are honored to have been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters this year. I will continue this work if reelected.

2.     What professional and/or personal skills do you bring to face that issue?

My professional background as a lawyer and a director of finance has given me the tools to be an effective member of the Township Committee and Mayor. I understand both the law and am experienced with budgets and finance. This combination has served me well.  

Further, I have three years of a proven record on the Township Committee. It’s very easy to vaguely say that we should “reduce spending,” but it’s much harder to actually reduce the property tax rate like we did in 2022.  

However, also critical is the number of commercial taxpayers in the Township (often referred to as “ratables”). The responsibility of attracting these ratables falls to the Hopewell Township Committee. Because of rising costs for things like healthcare, materials, and fuel, and the need to give fair raises to employees every year, it is nearly impossible to implement a tax levy decrease, especially in very responsible, lean budgets like Hopewell Township’s. In fact, this year, the total tax levy went up for the school district, and marginally for the municipality. However, when there are more commercial taxpayers to help absorb an increase, less of it will fall to residential taxpayers. That is what happened in Hopewell Township in 2022.

On land preservation, as I mentioned above, over the past three years, 978 acres of open space and 240 acres of farmland have been preserved in Hopewell Township. We have enacted new, more protective stormwater regulations, and we have passed a woody plant ordinance that requires native plants in new developments. David and I have been endorsed by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters in recognition of our strong environmental record.

We have a proven record of financial discipline and environmental protection, and David and I will continue this work if re-elected.

3.     Since the League of Women Voters decided not to have a debate this year, what is one question you would ask each of the candidates from the other political party?

David and I would love to have a debate with the Republican candidates, and we are still willing to do so. The exchange of ideas and civil disagreement on issues is a cornerstone of our democracy. 

If we debated, I would ask our opponents why they have actively campaigned and fundraised with the Republican candidate for Congress.  He is a self-described Trump Republican. He is an election denier. He was at the Capitol on January 6, as he boasted about on his own Facebook page, an event that led to the death of Capitol Police officers. My question for voters is whether insurrection and misinformation are Hopewell Values?    

4.     This is the first year in a long time that the property tax rate in the township was lowered.  What can you tell us about that and would you as a committee member, continue on the same path the current committee is on, financially?

While the lowered tax rate is great news for 2022, our work certainly is not over. We will continue to look for creative ways to reduce property taxes for Hopewell Township residents, while still meeting the needs of our residents and treating our employees fairly in the face of rising costs. This long-range planning includes continuing to reduce debt, finding new sources of municipal revenue like PILOT agreements and cannabis receipts, continuing the work of the Tourism and Economic Development Advisory Committee, and continuing to attract new commercial ratables to the Township to reduce our dependence on residential property taxes. We are on a positive, responsible fiscal path in Hopewell Township, and we will work hard to stay on this path.

5.     How does the school district budget affect the Township’s finances?

Each governing body (the School District, County, Township, and Fire District) sets their own budget, and Hopewell Township is responsible to collect the tax levy required to support each budget, and then pass the collected taxes directly along to each entity. 

While the Township Committee does not have a say in the budgets of the County, School, or Fire District, we can help decrease the overall tax rate as described above by attracting commercial taxpayers to reduce the reliance on residential taxpayers. For example, this year the tax levy for the school district went up, but the tax rate declined, because of the increase in commercial ratables. 

6.     Do you think it would be good policy for Hopewell Township to incentivize development north of Pennington-Titusville Rd?  Why or why not.

Hopewell Township made a decision many years ago to limit sewer service and public water in the Township. This has had wide-ranging impacts, and while it has its challenges, it is one of the main reasons that Hopewell looks very different from some of our neighboring communities who have seen more development.  It is a big reason why we are able to say today that 43% of the Township is preserved open space, recreation, and farmland.  

With this limited sewer access, development in the Township is often constrained to areas with access to sewer service, which is most notably south of Pennington-Titusville Road. Without sewer service, development is limited, whether incentivized or not.

7.     Should the Township develop property for commercial use?  If so, where and what obstacles might there be?

The Township’s role in commercial development should be to work to attract pharmaceutical companies, small businesses, and other commercial taxpayers to continue reducing the property tax rate. In 2022, the tax rate declined for the first time in 15 years, mostly due to an increase in commercial taxpayers, such as with the redevelopment of the former BMS site.  If reelected, David and I will continue to work hard to attract the right partners for Hopewell Township, who will work and pay taxes here while protecting our environment and open space.  

8.  Do you know what percentage of the Township currently is preserved as open space and farmland?

Lands in the Township dedicated to open space, recreation, and conservation total 43% of the Township, up from 28% in 2004, according to the Township’s Open Space and Recreation Plan.  This Plan was officially updated by the Planning Board this spring, though the process of updating it began when I served on the Planning Board in 2018, and I served on the subcommittee tasked with revising and updating the plan.  

This is an impressive number, but our work is not done.  Just in the last three years, 978 acres of open space and 240 acres of farmland have been preserved in Hopewell Township.  I am a lifelong environmentalist, and David and I are honored to have been endorsed by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters in recognition of our work to protect our shared environment.  We will continue this important work if reelected.

9.  Do you believe that the election process as experienced in Mercer County is safe and fair?  What about the rest of the country?

I am proud to live in New Jersey and in Mercer County, where there are multiple ways to vote, and voting is easy, secure, and accessible.  In addition to election day voting, we have no-excuse vote-by-mail and early voting for a full week (Saturday, 10/29 through Sunday, 10/6). Early voting is available at several locations around the County, including locally at the Pennington Fire Station. Further, the County has new voting machines that include a paper backup for all votes. Voting is safe, easy, and secure in Mercer County.

I believe that elections in the United States are free, safe, and fair, despite misinformation that is being spread nationwide, and right here in Hopewell Township by the Republican congressional candidate and members of the local Republican party.  I am proud to live in our great democracy where we can be assured that our vote counts.  

10.  Can you tell us about the Mount Laurel decision and how Hopewell Township has responded to it?  Do you know how many units are being developed and why?  Can you tell us about the order in which homes will be built regarding affordable vs. market rate?

The unanimous, bi-partisan settlement agreement for Hopewell Township’s affordable housing litigation, stemming from the Mount Laurel decisions of the NJ Supreme Court, was finished before I was elected.  My job and focus over the past three years has been to make this a welcoming community for our new neighbors, and to ensure that we are prepared for the coming changes.  

The history of the Mount Laurel line of cases and New Jersey’s unfunded state mandate on affordable housing is long and winding, but the upshot is that New Jersey law requires that all municipalities in the state provide the opportunity for affordable housing to be built within their borders.  Ignore the law, and a builder’s remedy lawsuit leaves the Township open to unplanned development at the builder’s whim, and a 10-1 market rate to affordable housing ratio.  If the Township built the units directly without market rate units, the cost to taxpayers would be upwards of $200 million, due to the high cost of bringing infrastructure like water and sewer to the Township.  (To put that in perspective, the total yearly Hopewell Township budget is around $26 million.)

The 2017 settlement agreement reduced the Township’s obligation to 653 affordable units to be built in inclusionary developments with 20% affordable housing.  As our new neighborhoods are built, affordable housing is required by law to be built proportionally with the market-rate units, and all agreements with developers follow this law. A proportionate number of affordable units must be built before certificates of occupancy (COs) are issued for the corresponding market rate units. A developer cannot build all the market rate homes first, or they will not receive COs for their market rate units, and therefore they cannot sell them. 

Change is always a challenge, but my attitude is to embrace the future, and to plan for it.  The way affordable housing is built in New Jersey is far from ideal, and the Legislature certainly could make it more efficient and put funding behind it to lessen the impact on municipalities.  However, that is outside of our control locally, and our job is to manage the process as it is, and work towards this being a welcoming community for our new neighbors.  We have done this through financial agreements that will ensure that the Township has the resources to provide the level of services that residents need and expect, as well as with careful coordination with the School District and  Fire/EMS providers to plan for the future. 

11.  Do you think that EMS services in the Valley should be privatized?

I have been working closely with the Fire District on this issue, and I want to start by thanking our volunteer and professional EMTs, paramedics, police, and firefighters, who selflessly put themselves in danger to save others every day. 

I do not think we should privatize EMS services in the Valley, just as I believe that we should not outsource or privatize 911 dispatch in the Valley.  Because of this, I worked closely with our Police Department and State Legislators to secure a $600,000 grant to upgrade our 911 dispatch technology.  This will allow us to keep our dispatchers in the Township and avoid outsourcing this critical service.

As for EMS, the Fire Commissioners did consider the option of a shared services agreement for ambulance service in the face of a significant loss of volunteer EMTs over the last several years. They tell me that it has become increasingly difficult to staff our ambulances with volunteers alone, and the first priority has to be to make sure that there are first responders available when residents have an emergency and call 911. However, they have developed a solution that will not require outsourcing ambulance services, and the Township is prepared to work with the Fire District and our volunteer and professional staff to help them ensure that EMS service in the Township is robust and available when Township residents need them. 

12.  Do follow MercerMe for news about what is happening in the community?
I absolutely follow MercerMe regularly. Not every community has comprehensive hyper-local reporting, and I am grateful that we have this in Hopewell Township. 


David Chait, Democrat. Incumbent. Chait was appointed in January 2022 to fill the seat vacated when Kristin McLaughlin was elected Mercer County Commissioner.

1. What do you think is the most pressing issue facing Hopewell Township? 

David Chait

The most pressing issue facing Hopewell Township is property taxes.

In the current environment of increased costs and decreasing state aid, managing Township finances in a way that maintains high quality services and keeps Hopewell Township affordable for all residents is the most important priority. 

To that end, I’m proud of our work on the Township Committee to address these tax and affordability issues. Through a combination of reducing municipal debt, attracting new commercial ratables, and opening new sources of revenue we’ve been able to maintain excellent services while also making Hopewell Township more affordable for all residents.

In fact, the success of these efforts is clear with this year’s tax rate decrease, which is the first decrease in 15 years.

2. What professional and/or personal skills do you bring to face that issue? 

Throughout my professional career I’ve developed the financial and problem solving skills necessary to tackle issues of municipal finance, taxes, and affordability. 

I am the Founder and CEO of a travel technology company – Travefy – with three offices across the US, including one in the heart of the Hopewell Valley. As an entrepreneur and business owner, I understand the issues small businesses face, have deep budgeting and financial experience, and have a strong appreciation for the need to stretch every dollar. Like any business owner, I know what it’s like to have to make payroll.

As a former McKinsey consultant where I worked with an array of Fortune-500 companies, I know how to solve complex problems. And as a former Obama Administration Official where I served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Administrator (a Cabinet-level official) of the U.S. Small Business Administration, I understand economic development. 

Most importantly, I also have direct experience as a current member of the Hopewell Township Committee successfully managing our finances, addressing affordability issues, and lowering our taxes. 

3. Since the League of Women Voters decided not to have a debate this year, what is one question you would ask each of the candidates from the other political party? 

I believe there is incredible value for voters in a public debate and would happily agree to one at any point. 

In a debate, I would ask the Republican candidates to share any concrete actions they would take that are different from the current Committee.

In their video interviews with the Hopewell Valley League of Women Voters as well as the Hopewell Express questionnaire, they advocated for a tax reduction (which we already did), phased development (which we’re already doing), hybrid Township Committee meetings (which we’re also already doing), and the establishment of an economic development committee (which already exists).

I would love to know what specific issues are important to them as well as any concrete solutions they would propose that the current Committee is not already doing.

4.     This is the first year in a long time that the property tax rate in the township was lowered.  What can you tell us about that and would you as a committee member, continue on the same path the current committee is on, financially? 

2022 was the first time the tax rate decreased in Hopewell Township in 15 years. This is an important milestone and the culmination of focused efforts to reduce municipal debt, attract new commercial ratables, and open new sources of revenue. This work is incredibly important to keep Hopewell affordable and accessible for all residents and I am personally committed to continuing the current path of fiscal responsibility. 

As a part of these efforts, we’ve successfully reinvented the former BMS site as an innovation hub for pharmaceutical businesses, resulting in new commercial tax revenues. Going forward we can build upon these successes to continue to build our innovation economy further increasing commercial ratables. This is important, because increased commercial ratables reduces the amount of taxes that have to be collected from residential taxpayers.

Additional economic development opportunities exist supporting all of our local businesses in addition to further developing local tourism, which leverages the Township’s rich history ahead of  the 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War. In support of this, I’m proud that the Township Committee constituted a Tourism and Economic Development Advisory Committee. 

Overall I’m proud of our record that lowered the property tax rate and know that I have the experience and knowledge to do so much more in the future. 

5.     How does the school district budget affect the Township’s finances?

As a father with school aged children in the district, I know how important it is that our schools are well funded to continue to provide a world class education. 

Each year the School District, the County, the Township, and the Fire District independently set their own budgets and the Township is legally required to provide those governing bodies that exact amount of money. This money is collected by the tax levy, which is the amount of money that needs to be raised by property taxes to provide that budget funding. 

Since property taxes come from both commercial properties as well as residential properties, the more commercial taxpayers we attract to Hopewell Township, the more of the tax burden they can absorb leaving less for residential taxpayers to pay.

This past year, for example, the total tax levy for the schools went up, but the overall tax rate went down for residents because we’ve attracted new businesses and increased the total number of commercial ratables. 

As a member of the Township Committee, I will continue to take actions to attract new business to the Township and grow our commercial ratables to further reduce the tax burden on residents. 

6.     Do you think it would be good policy for Hopewell Township to incentivize development north of Pennington-Titusville Rd?  Why or why not.

The overarching question on development has less to do with incentives or specific geography preferences and fundamentally comes down to where additional development can feasibly exist.

For decades, Township Committee members of both parties made the decision to limit sewer service and public water, which are key requirements for development. This decision is why so much of the Township remains farmland and open space. In fact, today 43% of Hopewell Township is made up of lands dedicated to recreation, open space and conservation

Nevertheless, among the many tradeoffs of this decision, there are limited areas within the Township – most of which are south of Pennington-Titusville Road – that have both the sewer and water access needed for development.

7.     Should the Township develop property for commercial use?  If so, where and what obstacles might there be?

Commercial development should be focused on key areas – like pharmaceutical companies – which have significant benefits for the Township and residents with minimal additional burdens such as vehicular traffic. Increased commercial ratables helps to reduce the tax burden on residential taxpayers and can help lead to more tax rate decreases like we saw this year.

One success towards this goal, which is already underway, is the reimagining of the former BMS campus as an innovation hub for pharmaceutical businesses. We’ve already welcomed several exciting businesses including BeiGene, PTC Therapeutics, Passage Bio, and Gennao Bio and there is opportunity for more.

Additionally, in my role as Economic Development Liaison for the Township Committee and my work with the Tourism and Economic Development Advisory Committee, I will continue to work to attract businesses to the Township.

8.  Do you know what percentage of the Township currently is preserved as open space and farmland? 

Currently 43% of the Township is lands dedicated to open space, recreation, and farmland, which includes 978 acres of open space and 240 acres of farmland preserved in the last three years. I am committed to continuing to preserve open space and champion the conservation of our beautiful landscape, which like so many others is what drew my family to the Township. 

I am proud of my record on the Township Committee supporting open space purchases while also ensuring any new developments are environmentally conscious with new stormwater regulations and native tree planting requirements among other areas. To that end, I’m honored that Courtney and I were recently endorsed by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters for this work.

Additionally, the Township has an Open Space Advisory Committee and an Agricultural Advisory Committee that advises us on future acquisitions and I am excited to continue to work with those groups, as well as local organizations, on how to further preserve our open space.  I also want to continue developing our robust network of walking and biking paths throughout the Township.

9.  Do you believe that the election process as experienced in Mercer County is safe and fair?  What about the rest of the country?

It’s sad that this question even has to be asked since study after study shows that elections in our country are safe and fair.  But we live in a world where the Republican candidate for Congress in our district is not only an election denier but was at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and our local Republican candidates for the Committee are actively campaigning and fundraising with him.  

That said, I firmly believe that the election process in Hopewell Township, Mercer County, and the United States is free, safe, and fair. And I’m grateful that we as a community have so many different ways to vote, including vote-by-mail, early in-person voting, and voting in-person on election day. 

Additionally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our poll workers who put democracy in action and voters who exercise one of the greatest privileges. 

10.  Can you tell us about the Mount Laurel decision and how Hopewell Township has responded to it?  Do you know how many units are being developed and why?  Can you tell us about the order in which homes will be built regarding affordable vs. market rate?

The Mount Laurel court decision from 1975, and subsequent rulings, holds that all municipalities in New Jersey have a legal obligation to provide the opportunity for affordable housing to be built. 

The Township was initially told we had to construct 1,756 affordable housing units. Through negotiation, that number was reduced to 653 units, and the agreement was memorialized by the Township in a unanimous, bipartisan settlement agreement in 2017.  This set the framework to work with developers to have them bear the cost of developing the affordable housing units and all infrastructure in exchange for the ability to develop market rate units as well at a 4 to 1 ratio. 

For context, if the Committee decided to have the Township directly build the 653 affordable units, such development would have cost taxpayers upwards of $200 million in infrastructure and development. With an annual budget that hovers around $26 million per year, this would explode taxes for residents. 

Similarly if the Committee decided to simply ignore the legal requirement to build 653 affordable housing units, the Township would open itself up to a builder’s remedy lawsuit and the likely scenario of losing any decision-making power in development and those units being built at a ratio of 10 market rate units for every 1 affordable unit. 

The current developments breaking ground are fulfilling the 2017 bipartisan settlement – which predates my time on the Township Committee – and ensures that Hopewell Township has met this legal and moral obligation. These developments will be built in phases over many years, and by law the affordable units must proportionally be built at the same time as the market rate units. So, for example, 25% of the affordable units must be complete and occupied before 25% of the market rate units are sold. 

As a member of the Township Committee, my focus is on the implementation of the 2017 unanimous, bipartisan agreement, working with key stakeholders like the School District and Fire Districts to plan for the future, as well as welcoming our new neighbors to our amazing community.

11.  Do you think that EMS services in the Valley should be privatized?

I am incredibly grateful for the professional and volunteer EMTs, paramedics, police and firefighters in the Hopewell Valley that serve our community. I think about their tremendous work last year during Hurricane Ida when water rescues saved lives, or responding to fires around town, or when I see them helping a motorist who has had an accident. I never forget that like all of our first responders, they are truly heroes. 

I am also in awe of the rich history of volunteerism throughout the Valley, which is one of the key reasons our EMS services have not been forced to privatize in the past. To that end, I do not believe that the EMS services in the Valley should be privatized and am committed to continuing to work with the Fire Districts to avoid outsourcing this service. 

The Township Committee has been working with the Fire Districts on key issues such as a loss of volunteers, particularly amidst the pandemic, and they have developed a robust plan that addresses sustainability obstacles going forward, particularly surrounding revenue offsets. 

I personally look forward to continuing to work with Districts on this plan and critical issue.

12.  Do follow MercerMe for news about what is happening in the community? 

Absolutely! The entire Hopewell Valley is so fortunate that MercerMe exists and I am so grateful for the vital service you provide our residents.  


Dan Hanley, Republican. Challenger

  1. What do you think is the most pressing issue facing Hopewell Township?
Dan Hanley

The most pressing issue for voters is the 40-year high inflation sighted by an Oct 6 CNN poll coming in at a whopping 82%. This is hitting the low to middle income families the hardest.

  • 2. What professional and/or personal skills do you bring to face that issue?  

As a fiduciary, I act on the behalf of my clients and put their interests ahead of mine. I would do the same for the township. Since inflation had been hitting the township with increased costs, a possible solution could be buying items in bulk or putting long term contracts in place i: e, fuel, asphalt, building supplies, and cement. One other way to help offset additional costs is to encourage new businesses into the area (ratables equal more income).

3. Since the League of Women Voters decided not to have a debate this year, what is one question you would ask each of the candidates from the other political party?

Courtney Peters-Manning is a lawyer and environmentalist that has been on the committee since 2019 while decisions were being made about affordable housing.  Why are we seeing multiple sites with very little regard for the environment?

4. This is the first year in a long time that the property tax rate in the township was lowered.  What can you tell us about that and would you as a committee member, continue on the same path the current committee is on, financially?

Financially, we are on the wrong path.  The tax rate cut did not address the spending that has depleted our surplus funding. And, in fact, 17 neighborhoods in the township were reassessed, so not all the residents received tax decreases. In addition, the township received a one-time grant of $927,000 from the American Rescue Plan which contributed to the rates reduction.  Municipal spending has continued to rise, despite diminished services throughout the township.

5.  How does the school district budget affect the Township’s finances?

It can make or break the township budget since it comprises almost 57 percent of the overall budget.

6.  Do you think it would be good policy for Hopewell Township to incentivize development north of Pennington-Titusville Rd?  Why or why not.

Currently everything is being built in the southern tier, which will lead to traffic and environmental issues.  The plan should have always been to spread housing out.

7.  Should the Township develop property for commercial use?  If so, where and what obstacles might there be?

The sites that are currently being developed were initially zoned for commercial use to be mixed with some housing.  The zoning was changed to residential to the benefit of the builders.  One should note, Pennytown was bought without due diligence, and they paid ~$3,000,000 more than it was worth. This site was supposed to have affordable housing but remains vacant. According to the Hopewell Township website, this is a SC-1 shopping center zone. Zoning permits retail sales, offices, clinics, banks, bars, restaurants, motels, and others uses.  But since there is no sewer, this can’t be utilized at the site.

8.  Do you know what percentage of the Township currently is preserved as open space and farmland?  

There is about 43% preserved open space and farmland.

9.  Do you believe that election process as experienced in Mercer County is safe and fair?  What about the rest of the country?

Poll watchers from both parties are monitoring the polling sites to make sure we are having a secure election. I would note that the voter rolls should be cleaned up. For example, having three families of no relationship in one house is of concern. I have confirmed this numerous times when canvassing the township.

10.  Can you tell us about the Mount Laurel decision and how Hopewell Township has responded to it? 

The Mount Laurel decision created a mandate for affordable housing in every township.  It has been weaponized on behalf of builders against townships like Hopewell.  The formula is 5 market units to each affordable unit.  The current number is around ~1077 units, but that information is constantly changing without public awareness, due to a complete lack of transparency by the Township Committee.

 11.  Do you think that EMS services in the Valley should be privatized?

This has been an issue for the entire state for a few years and not just a local issue. The township is in dire need of several EMT’s. This doesn’t include the need for more once the new developments are built. The real problem is there is no one to hire. A solution could be to create a program or a class to introduce high school students to the EMT field. It takes about 3 months to complete the training. This would create a pipeline of EMT’s for the township and the state. And to encourage them to stay in the township, we could give them housing in some of the new developments at a reduced rate.  

12.  Do follow MercerMe for news about what is happening in the community?

Yes. But sadly, there are not a lot of sources of local news anymore.


Jenn DiDinato, Republican. Challenger

1. What do you think is the most pressing issue facing Hopewell Township?

Jenn DiDinato

We have several large construction projects rapidly materializing. There are many items that will unfold as we move forward with our mandated affordable housing requirements. We need independent water studies to assess the best way to proceed for all residents. We will also need to consider the traffic impacts a growing population would have on existing local residents. We will need to identify new sources of revenue to offset growing infrastructure demands created by this expansion. This burden should not fall on the township residents and existing small businesses. Encouraging a strong economic development plan to identify and bring in new business is crucial to our future economic growth in Hopewell Township.  

2. What professional and/or personal skills do you bring to face that issue?

I work well assembling and leading committees. I have proven that over the many years volunteering within our schools and district. I look forward to working with other committee members to overcome these obstacles.   

3. Since the League of Women Voters decided not to have a debate this year, what is one question you would ask each of the candidates from the other political party?

Do you think it is beneficial for the township to have a politically diverse township committee? 

4. This is the first year in a long time that the property tax rate in the township was lowered. What can you tell us about that and would you as a committee member, continue on the same path the current committee is on, financially?

 A lower tax rate doesn’t necessarily translate to lower taxes for some of our residents. It’s clear when looking over your tax statement. I’m grateful that some have enjoyed this temporary decrease, but not all residents received this same benefit. Unfortunately, the amount of Municipal spending continues to rise despite diminished services throughout the township. This spending has depleted our surplus funding and needs to be set on a better course. Staying on this current path will negatively impact future financial obligations when our new housing commitments have been met. 

5. How does the school district budget affect the Township’s finances?

 The school district has its own budget which makes up roughly about 58% of residential taxes. The Township budget only accounts for 14% of residential taxes. Each of these governing bodies work independently from one another from a monetary standpoint. Working more closely with our neighboring municipalities and school board will help us become more effective in future planning.

6. Do you think it would be good policy for Hopewell Township to incentivize development north of Pennington-Titusville Rd? Why or why not.

 It would be a good idea not only to incentivize development north of Pennington-Titusville Rd. but also in various areas around the township. Having development evenly distributed throughout the township would be the most reasonable approach to growth.  

 7. Should the Township develop property for commercial use? If so, where and what obstacles might there be?

It would be practical for the Township to develop property for commercial use. Moving forward, we are set to increase our Township’s population substantially in the next few years once the new residential developments have been completed. This increase will put a huge demand on new infrastructure, services, and potentially lead to constructing a new school. We need to think about what new sources of revenue can support this increase so it doesn’t fall completely on our existing residents. 

8. Do you know what percentage of the Township currently is preserved as open space and farmland?

According to the Township website 978 acres of open space and 240 acres of farmland in Hopewell Township have been preserved in the last 3 years. This translates to roughly about 43% of the Township currently preserved for open space.

 9. Do you believe that election process as experienced in Mercer County is safe and fair? What about the rest of the country?

I can’t speak to the election process on a national level but I have been personally impacted by the election process on a local level. In 2019 a bill (S-4069) was passed on 8/23/19 leading to a change on the Vote by Mail system. According to an article written in NJ Spotlight News, dated September, 2019, “Letters were sent informing voters that the law required clerks to automatically send them a vote-by-mail ballot that year and for all future elections unless they informed the clerks in writing that they didn’t want to continue to vote by mail.” In other words, if you did not write back to opt out you, would be categorized as a mail-in voter. So, if you went to the polls to vote in person you could not cast your vote on the voting machine but would need to vote provisional. This is what happened to my husband, myself, and countless others. This problem persisted for the next 3 years for us, despite following the appropriate channels to correct the issue. 

Last year, my husband and I both received another vote by mail ballot, only this time, my district was changed to 3 and my husband remained 9. Again, this would have forced me to submit a provisional ballot. This was an error that was not unique to us but had also happened to my neighbors and several of our friends. Luckily for me, it was corrected in time. My friends were not as fortunate and had to vote provisional. There are many ways we can improve our election process to ensure voting in our area is safe and fair.  

10. Can you tell us about the Mount Laurel decision and how Hopewell Township has responded to it? Do you know how many units are being developed and why? Can you tell us about the order in which homes will be built regarding affordable vs. market rate? 

The Mount Laurel decision states that each NJ community provide a fair share of affordable housing. It is up to each Township to decide how they want to negotiate this commitment. According to The Hopewell Township Planning Board currently, Lenar will develop a residential development comprising 1,077 living units, 216 units of which will be set aside for affordable housing. They are legally required to fulfill their affordable housing commitment at a rate of 5/1. Or 80% of market rate homes will be built with 20% being affordable housing.  

11. Do you think that EMS services in the Valley should be privatized? 

There is a growing concern that should be approached with careful consideration. With rising demand on an increasing population, it is one of the issues we should take a closer look from an independent stance. I believe there could be a balance of both private and volunteer services that could meet the demand if constructed correctly. 

12. Do follow MercerMe for news about what is happening in the community?

Yes. I follow MercerMe and appreciate what the publication does to inform readers of events, updates, and issues within our area. Having access to the online content from a computer and or mobile device is an added bonus.


Editor’s Clarifications:

Provisional Ballots – From the League of Women Voters website:

You may vote a provisional ballot if you meet specific conditions.

Provisional ballots are paper ballots that are used at the polling place on election day under the following circumstances:

  • If your registration information is missing or is incomplete in the poll book
  • You moved from your registered address to another in the same county and did not notify your local election officials
  • You did not provide the required ID information on your registration form or you’re a first time registrant by mail in New Jersey and your ID numbers could not be verified and you did not show ID to the poll workers at the polling place.
  • There is a marking in the poll book that you applied for an absentee ballot but you did not apply for one, you applied for one but did not receive it, or you received it but did not return it
  • If you vote a provisional ballot because you did not provide the proper ID you have until the close of business on the second day after the election to provide your county commissioner of registration with the required ID information for your provisional ballot to count. You will be given instructions at your polling place on where to bring the ID.

Provisional ballots are counted before the Monday after the election.You can call 1-877-NJVOTER (1-877-658-6837) to check the status of your provisional ballot.

Affordable Housing – Extensive information about Hopewell Township’s affordable housing can be found here: https://www.hopewelltwp.org/faq.aspx?TID=25. Information about the number of units to be built can be found here: https://www.hopewelltwp.org/DocumentCenter/View/5681/B-93-L-501_502_602-Review-Reports?bidId=

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