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Hopewell Township Committee candidates

by Amie Rukenstein

Four people are running for two seats on the Hopewell Township Committee, which is the governing body of Hopewell Township.  We posed questions to the candidates based on recent MercerMe articles and the input of our friends and neighbors. The responses have not been edited except for format consistency and and are posted in the order in which they were returned to MercerMe. We have bolded the original questions for clarity. We gave no word limit and since we did not ask for photos, we are not posting those that were submitted. (We will remember to ask next year).

The two seats that are up this year are currently held by incumbents Michael Ruger (D) and Kevin Kuchinski (D). Both have held those seats for several terms; Ruger is currently Mayor and Kuchinski was Mayor several years ago. Challengers are Jennifer DiDonato (R) and Dan Hanley (R).


Michael Ruger

1 Please briefly state your qualifications for and interest in the Township Committee seat (3 sentences max). 

During the past six years, including this last year as mayor, I have spoken with hundreds of Hopewell Township residents of all ages, political parties and locations around the Township and head their concerns.  I have been deeply involved in crafting the Township budget and working with Township staff, ensuring we are doing the best job possible while keeping spending at a reasonable level.  And as a resident of the Township for the past 25 years, I want to continue to use my professional training as an attorney, experience as a former government employee, and knowledge as a current employee of a Fortune 50 company to make the Township an even better place to live.

2 Are you familiar with the Scotch Road development projects?  Do you support the way the Scotch Road development is turning out—with the projects largely comprised of condos priced at $500-$700,000 and no market rate rentals?  In what ways would you continue to support or oppose future developments from seeing similar results? 

As a Committee member in my sixth year of service, I am quite familiar with the projects.  Hopewell Parc will have 460 rental units, 254 of which will be designated as market rate. All told, the developments will have 506 market rate rentals and 332 affordable rental units. 

 Regarding the development projects, the settlement agreement establishing how the Township will comply with the affordable housing mandate was adopted by a unanimous bipartisan Township Committee in 2017, before I joined the Committee.  That plan laid out the formula for housing, with 80% market rate and 20% affordable, or 653 units.  This was the only real option.  If we assume $300,000 per unit, and add infrastructure costs, 653 units would have cost us over $200 million to build.  And a builder’s remedy would have led to far more market rate homes being built.  The reality is that sales of a mix of market rate and affordable units makes the most economic sense.

In my years on the Committee I have heard a number of complaints about affordable housing.  Personally, I think it is better for us to have housing for young teachers, young police officers, and young hospital employees who serve our community.  And it is better for us to have housing for older people who may want to remain in the Township but have reduced incomes.  These folks may qualify for affordable housing, but that option is not available now. 

Earlier this year I was honored to be asked to speak at the groundbreaking of a project between HomeFront, Homes by TLC and Lennar that will have 26 affordable rental units.  Having a place that everyone can call home is the very definition of community.

I am not going to say at this point whether I would support or oppose this approach in the future as that is dealing with a hypothetical and the specific facts at that time would drive my decision making.

3 Do you think the recent decision by the Zoning Board regarding the “The Hopewell” / Hollystone Manor property use should be considered a model of how to use land in alternative ways from that contemplated by the Master Plan and zoning ordinance or do you object to the Board’s decision? Should the Township discourage or encourage other landowners from converting their homes to alternative uses including short term rentals or other commercial establishments now that the precedent has been set?

I believe it is not appropriate for me, as a sitting Committee member, to discuss a specific application that is not final and no longer subject to litigation.  That said, I do not think any individual case should necessarily serve as a “model.”  As for what may happen in the future, we have full and transparent processes for the independent Zoning Board and Planing Board to consider such requests.  And any request should be very carefully considered keeping in mind that we have a Master Plan and zoning for a reason.

4 Do you support commercial uses in restricted districts like the Mountain Resource Conservation District? 

Without discussing the merits of any specific case, and as noted above, I believe we have a Master Plan for a reason and zoning for a reason, and zoning should be followed unless there is a compelling justification for a change as determined by the independent Zoning and Planning Boards. 

5 Do you have a plan to address the numerous Township-owned properties that have fallen into disrepair?

I know one challenge has been the Hart’s Corner Schoolhouse near the Township Building.  It needs work, both inside and out.  Various plans have been offered but nothing happened.  So I took matters into my own hands.  I directed the Township Administrator to find out if there was lead-based paint and/or asbestos in the building; if so, to determine how to remediate it; and to get the windows fixed and the exterior painted at a minimum.  We quickly learned there is lead paint inside and out, and asbestos inside.  We are now working on how to remediate the hazards so we can paint the exterior, and the windows have been repaired.  This is a first step that will protect the building and not preclude any future decisions on what to do with the schoolhouse.  And we have money in the budget for the schoolhouse.  As for other locations, those should be identified and we should work on budgeting funds as well as seeking potential grants to cover necessary repairs.

6 What do you think should be done with Pennytown? 

The decision to purchase the Pennytown property was made years ago by a bipartisan Township Committee with good intentions based on the facts they had at the time.  I do not criticize them for the decision but, with the benefit of hindsight, it likely was not the best use of funds.  That said, it is the responsibility of the current Township Committee to determine what to do with the property.  And in my opinion, we should sell it.  That requires a buyer, of course, and while the property has been on the market we haven’t found one.  But when the right buyer comes along, I believe we should ensure that any use of the property is consistent with the surrounding area and appropriate for the site.

7 Has the Township preserved enough open space yet? Is it important to enforce restrictions on the conservation sites that have been established? If so, how would you do that?

Over 40% of the Township is preserved farmland, recreation areas or open space, which is pretty remarkable when you consider that the Township is around 58 square miles of land.  We have been able to do this over the years through working with local organizations, Mercer County, and the state, as well as individual farmers who want to preserve their land. One thing I have heard from many people is that they moved to Hopewell Township because of open space, and I get the sense that people would rather have more open space than less.  I believe we should err on the side of continuing to acquire open space, and to preserve farmland, when the opportunity presents itself so long as the funding is available.  And if it is a choice of open space versus preserved farmland, I lean towards farmland as a way of honoring and protecting our agricultural heritage.

8 Is there anything in the current budget you would cut in order to lower taxes? 

The members of the Township Committee and Township staff spend countless hours on the budget every year.  And we’ve lowered taxes two years in a row, so I think we’ve got a good track record.  But every year we face the reality that roughly 25% of the budget is debt service (which we are slowly paying off).  We want to ensure our Township employees are paid a fair wage and have all of the benefits they are entitled to, and that they have the equipment to do their jobs to provide the services our residents expect.  We also want to ensure we have the right amount in surplus.  It doesn’t do us any good if we have too much or too little, as too much surplus means we are holding on to money that could be returned to residents or used to fund projects without borrowing, and too little means we may not have enough to meet minimum thresholds.  It’s easy to say, “We should have more (or fewer) employees to do X,” or “We should have more equipment to do Y,” but it’s a lot harder when you are responsible for actually delivering a budget.  That’s why we have focused over the past few years on finding new, meaningful revenue streams.  The reimagining of the former BMS campus is a perfect example.  When BMS announced it was leaving, we knew we had a problem as the loss of tax revenue would create an enormous hole in the budget  We learned quickly that no single entity would be likely to take over the entire campus.  So we worked with various partners to reimagine the campus to make it attractive for multiple tenants—and it worked.  We’ll soon see increased revenues from the property.  Another example is cannabis.  Whether you are for or against legalization, the fact is the state has made the decision to legalize cannabis.  We carefully crafted best-in-class ordinances to allow for cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution while keeping public safety as a priority.  Once facilities are operational, we’ll receive 2% of gross revenues with little to no burden to the Township.  And to further help stretch our taxpayer dollars, we have actively sought out and received millions of dollars in state grants, including for the bandshell, a 911 center upgrade, and the Senior and Community Center. 

9 Do you think that attracting tourism is a good idea?  How would you go about that and how to balance that with maintaining the existing character of Hopewell Township? 

I think tourism is an excellent idea, provided that we carefully consider what we have to offer to visitors and ensure that by promoting those offerings we protect our community’s character.  When we created the Tourism and Economic Development Advisory Committee, I said tourism and economic development go hand in hand.  How many times have you visited a community and said, “I could live here”?  That’s what I want people to do—come here and see our community.  Some will decide they want to move here, and isn’t it good that we have people wanting to buy houses?  And some will decide to start businesses here, and isn’t it good that we have new businesses that are consistent with the Township’s character to create new jobs and economic opportunities? 

10 What should the Township do to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the country in 2026? 

This is a question full of possibilities.  I remember the Bicentennial in 1976 when there was a lot of excitement about our nation’s history.  Personally, I would like to see that same level of excitement for the Semiquincentennial.  It is easy for us to overlook the fact that when we drive over the Washington Crossing Bridge, head up Washington Crossing Pennington Road, turn on Bear Tavern Road and cross Jacob’s Creek that we are following the path George Washington and his troops took in December 1776.  Had he not been successful, the outcome of the Revolutionary War could have been quite different.  This drive is history.  Where else can you do this?  The answer is only in Hopewell Township.  Let’s tell that story, as well as the more than 300 year history of Hopewell Township.  And let’s be inclusive in recalling history, being sure to reference the role of Black residents as well, for example.  Let’s work with the federal and state governments to encourage people to see the history in Hopewell Township for themselves.  Let’s have celebrations in Woolsey Park.  And let’s see if we can encourage the President to visit the Township as part of our celebration.

11 What can be done to control the deer population (or should anything be done)? 

An overabundance of deer leads to an increase in the number of collisions with vehicles and destruction of crops and ornamental plantings.  In addition, if there is an overabundance the deer cannot find food and are subject to death through starvation or disease.  The Township has a robust deer management program that relies on volunteer hunters and a Deer Management Committee to determine how to handle deer overpopulation.  I am willing to listen to this group and to others who have proposals to resolve this issue in a humane manner.


Dan Hanley

1 Please briefly state your qualifications for and interest in the Township Committee seat. (3 sentences max)

I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM who focuses on planning for families and foundations. I’ve always had an interest in politics ever since Ronald Reagan took office. I thought, why not start local and try to make things better for our community?

2 Are you familiar with the Scotch Road development projects? Do you support the way that the Scotch Road development is turning out – with the projects largely comprised of condos priced at $500 – $700,000 and no market rate rentals? In what ways would you continue to support or oppose future developments from seeing similar results?

I am very familiar with the Hopewell Parc project as I live down the road from the development. These condos were supposed to be slated for the people who serve our community, but if you worked for the local police or firehouse, do you think you could afford a $500,000 to $700,000 home?  There are three developments going on at the same time right now, which seems to be poorly planned and excessive. I would oppose any future development that does not meet the needs of our community.  It seems fairly obvious, but affordable housing should be affordable.

3 Do you think the recent decision by the Zoning Board regarding the “The Hopewell” / Hollystone Manor property use should be considered a model of how to use land in alternative ways from that contemplated by the Master Plan and zoning ordinance or do you object to the Board’s decision? Should the Township discourage or encourage other landowners from converting their homes to alternative uses including short term rentals or other commercial establishments now that the precedent has been set?

The new variance that the zoning board approved set a dangerous precedent in the township.  The plan is excessive for the property.  A smaller, less drastic plan that maintained the integrity of the manor, would have avoided the environmental impact that the current plan will cause. This will open the flood gates for other landowners to do this if they wish. As the summary in the master plan said “ The future face of the Hopewell Valley will be shaped, in large measure, by this Master Plan. The open fields and meadows, the calming influences of free-flowing streams and rivers, and the beauty of forested slopes are a legacy for future generations. Faithful adherence to the policies outlined in this Conservation Plan, combined with a broad concept of stewardship where all citizens contribute, will protect and enhance the special character of the landscape, and the healthy ecology with which Hopewell Township is blessed.”

4 Do you support commercial uses in restricted districts like the Mountain Resource Conservation District?

No. I believe in keeping MRC’s left alone.

5 Do you have a plan to address the numerous Township-owned properties that have fallen into disrepair?

The real issue is that we don’t have enough workers in the township to maintain the properties plus upkeep of the shrubs on the roads i.e.: Woosamonsa bridge was taken out by a car because shrubs were not cut and still haven’t been. Or if you drive on Pennington Rocky Hill Rd where Moore’s Mill Mt. Rose, the side of the road has a large drop off that can cause a flat tire (happened to me) or a crash. The properties of Hopewell Township need to be maintained.

6 What do you think should be done with Pennytown?

If one reads the Pennytown link on the Hopewell Township website, the closing day of the property was June 30, 2009. It had its own sewage treatment plant and was the solution to the affordable housing in the town. The town paid $6mm for it and sits idle to this day. What have Democratic-run councils done since then? The site needs a new package plant for the sewer, and the town should discount the property so someone can build a new one. My preference would be to create a Main Street or a town-like center.

7 Has the Township preserved enough open space yet? Is it important to enforce restrictions on the conservation sites that have been established? If so, how would you do that?

There is government persevered and privately preserved open space. There are different types of restrictions for each of those open spaces. I would note, the largest two landowners of the township are Mercer County and D&R Greenway. Open space should be protected in accordance with the master plan.

8 Is there anything in the current budget you would cut in order to lower taxes? 

The two largest parts of the budget are the School budget and servicing of the debt. In order to possibly lower taxes, the township committee should work closely with the employees at the township to eliminate wasteful spending and look at any taxpayer resources being used where our schools assume the role of the parents.  

9 Do you think that attracting tourism is a good idea?  How would you go about that and how to balance that with maintaining the existing character of Hopewell Township?

The township is full of walking and historical parks for tourists to visit.  But the township is missing a “Main Street” where people can have food and drinks or walk down the street to shop. As I drove through Freehold the other day, I saw that their “Main Street” had outside seating for food and shoppes. If carefully thought out with collaboration from all residences and businesses, it could be done in Hopewell.  There is a National Main Street Program which could help us achieve this.

10 What should the Township do to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the country in 2026?

 I attend the 1976 Bicentennial in NYC. It was very memorable as I watched the Tail Ships and fireworks at night. Some ideas for the year, put American Flags on telephone poles, have education seminars for residents to learn more about the founding of our country, and in school, create a course on the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Lastly, a fireworks display sponsored by local businesses.

11 What can be done to control the deer population (or should anything be done)?

Well thought out Deer Management Program on both public land and private land.


Jennifer DiDonato

1 Please briefly state your qualifications for and interest in the Township Committee seat. (3 sentences max)

I excel at forming and guiding committees, demonstrated through years of volunteering in our schools and community. I eagerly anticipate collaborating with fellow committee members to enhance our township’s excellence.

2 Are you familiar with the Scotch Road development projects? Do you support the way that the Scotch Road development is turning out – with the projects largely comprised of condos priced at $500 – $700,000 and no market rate rentals? In what ways would you continue to support or oppose future developments from seeing similar results?

I am familiar with the Scotch Road Hopewell Parc development due to its proximity to my home.  I have some concerns about the affordability of these supposed affordable homes.  $500,000 – $700,00 hardly seems affordable for someone with a fixed income. This large development is being simultaneously constructed along with two other developments behind Shoprite and off of Federal City Rd.  This will undoubtedly carry an increased burden on at least two of our elementary schools, potentially creating the need for the school district to raise taxes through a referendum.  It’s important to consider future developments would be excessive and may not meet the community’s needs.  The township committee members’ vision for our future remains unclear.  Could a 15-minute smart city or a C40 city model be their goal?

3 Do you think the recent decision by the Zoning Board regarding the “The Hopewell” / Hollystone Manor property use should be considered a model of how to use land in alternative ways from that contemplated by the Master Plan and zoning ordinance or do you object to the Board’s decision? Should the Township discourage or encourage other landowners from converting their homes to alternative uses including short term rentals or other commercial establishments now that the precedent has been set?

I believe the Hollystone Manor / “The Hopewell” property plans appear elegant and considerate.  However, they raise concerns about setting precedents, environmental impacts, and ensuring responsible capacity enforcement. The zoning board’s recent variance approval could pave a concerning pattern.  This may inadvertently encourage other landowners to follow suit.  The township should better uphold the master plan, discouraging property conversions for short-term rentals or commercial purposes to prevent potential issues from escalating.  Additionally, there should be more balanced oversight and thoughtful consideration regarding zoning board and all subcommittee member appointments. 

4 Do you support commercial uses in restricted districts like the Mountain Resource Conservation District

I believe promoting commercial activity in restricted zones like the Mountain Resource Conservation District goes against responsible land stewardship and the township’s master plan’s principles. 

5 Do you have a plan to address the numerous Township-owned properties that have fallen into disrepair?

A solid plan to address Township-owned properties in disrepair should prioritize ecological restoration and sustainability. This includes assessing each property’s environmental impact, investing in eco-friendly renovations, and potentially repurposing some properties for community gardens, green spaces, or educational facilities that promote environmental stewardship. 

6 What do you think should be done with Pennytown?

From what I understand, the planned housing project couldn’t proceed due to false assurances about expanding the sewage plant to serve 70 homes, a senior center, and retail.  Stony Brook Regional Sewage Authority declined further development, and the remote location led to the need for large manufactured wetlands, requiring many acres of land.  It’s a shame to see such a beautiful site vastly underutilized because of these unfortunate circumstances. 

I’d love to see an outdoor recreational facility for the kids complete with a large playground, basketball courts, grass sport playing fields, tennis courts, and maybe even a large communal garden.  Appropriate and ecologically responsible lighting should also be provided through a certain timeframe. 

7 Has the Township preserved enough open space yet? Is it important to enforce restrictions on the conservation sites that have been established? If so, how would you do that?

Whether the Township has preserved enough open space depends on its environmental goals and population growth. Enforcing restrictions on conservation sites is crucial to protect biodiversity, ecosystem services, and community resilience. To do so, use zoning regulations, conservation easements, stewardship plans, community engagement, and partnerships with environmental organizations and landowners.  Transparency is essential to fostering trust and open communication between our elected constituents and local residents. 

8 Is there anything in the current budget you would cut in order to lower taxes?

It is a misleading concept that your taxes are largely driven by the township.  The lion’s share of your property taxes are implemented by the school board.  Currently the township is playing a game of re-assessing your property to make it appear as though your taxes went down.  While this may be a true statement it is deceptive because you are actually paying more money overall. 

For example, if the tax rate is 5.5% and it drops to 5.4% and your assessment is $100k.  At 5.5% you pay $5,500 and at 5.4% you pay $5,400.  Now if your assessment goes up to $110k at the lower 5.4% you pay $5,940.  The rate is lower but you pay more.  

9 Do you think that attracting tourism is a good idea? How would you go about that and how to balance that with maintaining the existing character of Hopewell Township?

Attracting tourism can benefit Hopewell Township, but it must be done thoughtfully. To balance tourism with preserving the township’s charm and character, I would focus on promoting eco-friendly and sustainable tourism. Develop nature-based attractions, support local businesses, and implement strict zoning and land use regulations to maintain the existing attributes while welcoming responsible tourism. This can be responsibly accomplished if we could strike a balance on sensible appointment of subcommittee members such as the zoning board.

10 What should the Township do to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the country in 2026?

Much like the division we are facing today there were various factions opposing the revolution at our nation’s birth. While some supported uniting the American colonies, others remained loyal to the king.  It was a time of great courage but also deep division.  As we approach this significant anniversary, I am disheartened by our current regression and lack of united spirit. I aim to encourage civil discourse and earnestly seek unity through community outreach, improved communication and transparency between township members and the public, and fair appointment of subcommittee members.

The American rescue plan has put funds towards the state’s revolutionary war historic sites including 4 located in Mercer County. Washington Crossing State Park right here in Hopewell Township is one of the sites chosen to be revitalized for visitors to enjoy during America’s semi quincentennial anniversary. In anticipation of this event, we could organize a concert with diverse genres of current and historical patriotic music, interspersed with historical speeches by school children.  Decorating the township with banners featuring Revolutionary heroes along Washington Crossing Pennington Road and hosting a home decoration contest.  A foot, bike, or boat parade would also enhance the spirit of 1776 within our community.

11 What can be done to control the deer population (or should anything be done)?

Measures such as regulated hunting, culling programs, and habitat management can be further implemented.  Decisions on whether to take action should consider ecological balance, public safety, and wildlife conservation goals.  Given the rate of rapid overdevelopment incurred to Hopewell Township we need to focus on solutions for migrating populations. It is a delicate task that requires careful planning and consideration.


Kevin Kuchinski

1 Please briefly state your qualifications for and interest in the Township Committee seat:

I am honored to serve you on the Hopewell Township Committee and have worked tirelessly to make Hopewell more affordable and green.  My wife Leslie and I have lived in the Elm Ridge Park neighborhood of the Township for over 20 years – we raised our four kids in the Hopewell Valley school district and enjoy walking with our two energetic labradoodles and biking in the Valley.  I have extensive financial experience, managing budgets from $1 Million at St James Church in Pennington to over $1 Billion in the private sector, and have leveraged this to deliver the services residents expect for less.

2 Are you familiar with the Scotch Road development projects? Do you support the way that the Scotch Road development is turning out – with the projects largely comprised of condos priced at $500 – $700,000 and no market rate rentals? In what ways would you continue to support or oppose future developments from seeing similar results?

A critical step to making Hopewell Township more affordable is diversifying our housing options.  This includes new rental options for young families, teachers and first responders, as well as lower cost ownership options for the 55+ community, so that they can stay in the town they know and love. The recent project we closed on with HomeFront on Scotch Road will bring 26 affordable new units to Hopewell Valley – these are units that a starting teacher, police officer or other community member can afford.  And more affordable options are on the way, with a total of 653 affordable units, including 332 rental units, being distributed across three I-295 interchanges.

If we had chosen to build these 653 affordable units on our own, it would have resulted in a $200-300 Million bill for taxpayers, which was a non-starter. And with the Scotch Road project, we successfully avoided builders remedy lawsuits that would have resulted in over 17,000 units being built across the Township. 

3 Do you think the recent decision by the Zoning Board regarding the “The Hopewell” / Hollystone Manor property use should be considered a model of how to use land in alternative ways from that contemplated by the Master Plan and zoning ordinance or do you object to the Board’s decision? Should the Township discourage or encourage other landowners from converting their homes to alternative uses including short term rentals or other commercial establishments now that the precedent has been set?

The Hollystone Manor project is still being actively litigated and I therefore cannot comment on the specifics of this application as a sitting Township Committee Member.  That being said, I do not support the broadscale conversion of homes to commercial uses, particularly in the resource-constrained Mountain Resource Conservation district.  The hydrological study which underpins our Master Plan indicates that there are not sufficient water resources in this region to support commercial scale development and we need to protect Baldpate Mountain (and the surrounding area), as it serves as an important bird sanctuary for neo-tropical species.  All Zoning Board applications are unique and I do not see this one as precedent-setting.

4 Do you support commercial uses in restricted districts like the Mountain Resource Conservation District?

The Township Master Plan puts strict limits on development in the Mountain and Valley Resource Conservation Districts, which I strongly support.  I first ran for Township Committee when PennEast proposed to build a redundant fossil fuel pipeline through the heart of our preserved open space and farmland in the MRC and VRC districts, and I am proud that we successfully defeated this project after a 7-year fight.  Subsequently, we have stopped Kooltronics from building hundreds of homes in a rural portion of the Township and successfully preserved the Hopewell Valley golf course in partnership with the County.  With limited water resources in these areas, we need to continually guard against development proposals and fight to preserve the special character of Hopewell Valley.

5 Do you have a plan to address the numerous Township-owned properties that have fallen into disrepair?

The Township has consistently worked to preserve important historic properties across the Valley – there are currently only two unoccupied properties and we are taking action on both.  We typically seek public-private partnerships for these preservation efforts, to minimize the impact on taxpayers. After one of these partnerships for the schoolhouse on the corner of Scotch Road recently fell through, I worked closely with our Historic Preservation Commission to identify the most pressing repairs.  Mayor Ruger is now working closely with our Public Works team to cost-effectively implement these. We are in the process of marketing the second property and hope to attract a private buyer who will restore the home and barn to preserve this important part of our history.

6 What do you think should be done with Pennytown?

Pennytown was originally acquired by the Township to provide a portion of its affordable housing obligation – I am heartened to see that we successfully stopped 200+ homes being built in the Pennytown area, and we need to continue to defend this site from self-interested developers.  Looking ahead, we have carved off a 2-acre portion of this property to preserve a historic home and barn, and we are seeking interested parties to buy the balance of the site.  A redevelopment plan for Pennytown is in-place and will strictly limit the scale of any future projects, protecting the rural character of Marshall’s Corner.  We also have stopped development on sites adjacent to Pennytown, most importantly preserving the Hopewell Valley golf course and preventing hundreds of homes being built in the heart of the Township.

7 Has the Township preserved enough open space yet? Is it important to enforce restrictions on the conservation sites that have been established? If so, how would you do that?

I am proud to see that 43% of Hopewell Township is now preserved open space and farmland and other outdoor recreation spaces.  We have created an extensive trails network in Hopewell Valley and have one of the most walk-able/bike-able communities in the area.  I look forward to the completion of the Lawrence-Hopewell trail loop over the coming years, and have been working closely to create a new trail from the LHT to the Baldpate Mountain preserve.  We should continue to invest prudently in open space acquisitions, but I would also like to see the community utilize these monies to improve access to these sites, complete our trail network and institute responsible land stewardship practices that help mitigate climate change, improve biodiversity and contribute to a healthy ecosystem.                                                                                                                                                                                          

8 Is there anything in the current budget you would cut in order to lower taxes?

Yes, I would cut the debt and source new revenues to lower taxes.  These are two paths to lower taxes and we must look at both to make progress.  Over the past 9 years, we have restored financial discipline in the Township, reducing spending increases by 2/3, lowering Township debt and bringing in new revenues to improve Township services at a lower overall cost.  Looking ahead, debt service currently consumes almost 25% of the Township budget, more than we spend on public works and the police combined. I am committed to paying off this debt and spending within our means, and we have made significant progress on this during my tenure on the Committee.  Second, we will be receiving significant new revenues over the coming years from the successful revitalization of the former BMS site and our PILOT agreements – we should leverage these monies to further reduce taxes.

9 Do you think that attracting tourism is a good idea?  How would you go about that and how to balance that with maintaining the existing character of Hopewell Township?

We are blessed with an abundance of open space, trails and preserves, farm markets, wonderful restaurants wineries and distilleries and historical attractions in Hopewell Valley.  I strongly support recreational tourism, agro-tourism, and heritage tourism and believe that bringing visitors to Hopewell Valley helps support local businesses and farms and is a benefit to all. Of course, any such efforts should maintain the existing character of Hopewell Township, with a focus on limiting traffic.

10 What should the Township do to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the country in 2026?

Hopewell Township was the first community in the state to be part of the 250th commemoration.  We are at the heart of Revolutionary War history, with George Washington and his troops famously crossing the Delaware river on a cold December evening, on their way to beat the Hessian garrison in Trenton and change the course of the war.  New Jersey is investing significantly to commemorate the 250th anniversary, including a new Visitor’s Center at Washington Crossing Park and a $25 Million investment in ten other revolutionary war sites across the state.  This is a great opportunity to bring visitors to Hopewell Valley and to celebrate our history and to introduce them to our community and its treasures.  I have been working closely with RevolutionNJ on the 250th celebration.

11 What can be done to control the deer population (or should anything be done)?

We have too many deer in Hopewell Township, creating three problems: 1) frequent deer-car collisions, endangering the public; 2) destruction of crops, young trees and other plantings; and 3) premature death of deer due to disease.  We have a successful hunting program in the Township, managed by the Deer Management advisory committee, but we are exploring additional steps to reduce the deer population.  With 43% of the Township being preserved open space, farmland and outdoor recreation space, I will work with the County and local land trusts to further reduce the deer population, in a humane manner (including community-based deer management alternatives).

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