Ask your local candidate a question.

Monday, June 24, 2024
LOCAL ELECTIONS

Know the Candidates

Walter Orcutt

Blairstown Township Committee

Local Government Experience:

Have you ever been elected or appointed to a local government position, or served on a local government board, committee, or as staff?

Local governments include cities, counties, public utility districts, school districts, fire protection districts, port districts, and more.

Yes.

If yes, please describe:

Hardwick Township Zoning Board
Hardwick Township Committee 1987
Blairstown Township Committee 1989-1994
Blairstown Township Planning Board 1990-1994
Blairstown Township Mayor 1990-1994
Blairstown Township Planning Board 2004-2006
Blairstown Township Planning Board Chairman 2005-2006
Blairstown Township Land Use Board 2020-present
Warren County Planning Board mid 1980's
Warren County Municipal & Charitable Conservancy Trust Fund Committee Chairman 2022-present
Warren County Pollution Control Finance Authority 2023 - present
Warren Board of Taxation (Chairman numerous years) 1997 - 2011
NJ Motor Vehicle Commission 2009 - present

Tell us about yourself and why you would be the best candidate to participate in governing the town/township?

I have been extremely involved in the community since settling here in 1980 as a newlywed after finish my 4 year active duty obligation with the US Navy as a Cryptologic Technician at the National Security Agency. I started a small business from scratch (Blairstown Glass & Mirror), and almost immediately got involved with the Blairstown Area Republican Club. Soon after I was appointed as Blairstown Special Officer, a position I held until my election to the Hardwick Township Committee in 1987. During the 1980's I was active in the community including as President of the Blairstown Business Association, and Worshipful Master of Blairstown Masonic Lodge. As indicated above I was Mayor for 5 years in the early 1990's and after that I remained involved serving on the Planning Board and other positions.

I am very well rounded in ALL aspects of local government. I work well with the other members of the Township Committee to bring projects to fruition, craft a responsible and realist spending plan each year and bring a valuable continuity perspective that is unmatched by any other township official or staff.

I generally don't have a "learning curve" to be able to hit the ground running, but on complex or unfamiliar issues, I am able to draw upon my deep understanding of local government and bureaucratic process to help grasp the issue at hand while also considering how it will impact other areas.

What are the top three challenges facing the town/township?

1. Property Taxes

2. Maintaining our rural quality of life

3. Water Department

How do you propose to address these challenges?

I have already been deeply involved in all three issues for the past 3 years on the township committee.

We froze the local tax rate starting in 2022 for 5 years to show the residents that we are committed to holding the line on spending while still maintaining the services the residents are accustomed to. I have been working hard on the finance subcommittee with Committee-person Karen Lance to ensure that we spend your hard earned tax dollars wisely and we are constantly looking at next year and as much as 5 years into the future with our operations spending allocation planning and long term spending plans.

We are continually looking at the ordinances and zoning recommendations coming from the Land Use Board to ensure that we are careful with any potential growth issues as well as quality of life ordinances. It is probably not well known, but there is literally only one undeveloped Highway Commercial lot in the entire Township. Additionally, as far as residential growth, there are very, very few marketable building lots available.

Our water company, which serves Blair Academy and the downtown area is in need of upgrades and professional management that we really aren't prepared to deal with. Accordingly, the entire township committee is in agreement to try and market the water company, sell it to the highest responsible bidder and ultimately get a better quality water product to the residents who are on the system.

How do you plan to involve the residents in the decision-making process?

We as the elected Township Committee members ultimately make the decisions and we welcome input from the residents at each and every public meeting and also by direct communication such as phone calls and emails. Most residents already know to reach out to me on my cell at 908-310-4115 or email me at worcutt@blairstowntwp-nj.com.

Additionally, since Committeeman Makatura came on board in 2022, he has been taping the meetings and posting them to YouTube and the residents are able to view our meetings (or just the portions that interests them) at their leisure. Sometimes residents want to hear complex answers to budget, spend or other issues from our CFO or Auditor or Township Attorney and the YouTube meetings are an excellent resource for them.

What will be your priorities for representing this town/township?

My priorities are crystal clear: Keep Blairstown affordable. We currently have the lowest tax rate of any municipality in Sussex, Warren or Hunterdon County that has a Police Department. And even with the Police Department taking up around 55% of our spending for operations, we are still the 3rd lowest municipality in Sussex and Warren combined.

What else do you want to share that would convince voters you are the right candidate for the future of the town/township?

I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read my responses and urge anyone who has any further questions or concerns to email or call me.

Let me close by saying this: I was born and raised in neighboring Fredon Township and I love this town and fully expect to spend the rest of my days here - as I am sure many of you also want to do. I am not interested in "moving south" ever and I expect to continue to age in place here, so obviously I have a vested interested - as well as a sincere desire to do the right things to make this the best place for all of us now and far into the future!