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Friday, June 14, 2024

Van Valkenburg Makes Comeback in Blairstown

Former Blairstown Committee Member Joanne Van Valkenburg is one step closer to making a return to the governing body after finishing second of three candidates running for two committee seats in the Republican primary election.

Van Valkenburg received 360 votes, defeating incumbent Charles Makatura, who received 325 votes. Incumbent Committee Member Rob Moorhead, who currently serves as mayor, finished first with 365 votes. Vote totals are unofficial and still could change until county clerk certifies the numbers later in June

John Allan Hough ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Hough, Moorhead and Van Valkenburg will compete for two seats on the committee.

Van Valkenburg attributed her win to Blairstown residents wanting transparency in local government.

“I really want accountability, and that’s what we’re lacking,”

Van Valkenburg said after her unofficial win. She said she had not planned to run for the committee again after her previous term ended two years ago. During those intervening two years, Van Valkenburg has been a frequent critic of the township committee, prompting her to run again.

“I’m thrilled to run, I wasn’t planning to run,” Van Valkenburg said. “Then I found out a few things and I said, ‘That’s it. I’m running again.'”

Van Valkenburg said she hopes to earn votes of Republicans and Democrats.

“The last time that I ran, the Democrats did back me, and I’m hoping they will do that again,” Van Valkenburg said. “I really don’t believe that at this level of government we should be Republican, Democrat, Republican. We’re all in it for the people.”

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.