Saturday, November 26, 2022
LOCAL ELECTIONS

Know the Candidates

Keith Ramos

Frelinghuysen Township Candidate

Tell us about yourself, and why you would be the best candidate to participate in governing Frelinghuysen Township.

 

I am a married father of three, and newly a grandfather. My family and I have lived in Frelinghuysen for about 14 years. I have been involved with Frelinghuysen’s Recreation Committee for many years, and have coached multiple youth sports. When I originally decided to run for Township Committee three years ago, it was because I did not agree with some of the decisions that the governing body was making at that time, and thought that I could make a difference. I will always do what I think is best for the group, team or town.

What will be your priorities for representing Frelinghuysen?

 

Fiscal responsibility (balanced budget, reduction in debt with a path to becoming debt free, increase the value of our town), transparency, installation of our Fire Department, and access for all residents to high speed internet.

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

 

One way is through our website. We have worked very hard to revamp our website, making it more informative and inclusive of what’s important, not only in our town, but our community as a whole. Additionally, I will continue to make myself accessible to the members of our community. Being accessible and transparent to our residents helps keep them connected to what’s going on in the community, and gives me a chance to have a real conversation and receive an unbiased view of their concerns and issues that I may not be aware of. I also encourage all interested residents to attend our Township Committee meetings. We all have our plates full with responsibilities and obligations, whether it be work, running our kids to practices, attending games, school functions, doctor appointments, etc. All of these take precedence and are important, but so is the direction of our township. It truly takes a village to make real progress and ensure that what we collectively love about our township today is preserved for our children tomorrow.

What are the top three challenges facing Frelinghuysen?

 

Budget, Infrastructure (Roads), Infrastructure (High Speed Internet).

How do you propose to address these challenges?

 

To deal with budget challenges, you need a fiscally sound plan. This would be a pretty long piece if I had to outline what goes into a fiscally responsible budget, at least in my opinion. To keep it short, you must first understand the process, put needs above wants, and do a cost justification for all requests. You also must keep capital debt moderate to reduce debt, and raise the value of your town to help with interest on notes. There is a lot more that goes into it, but these, in my opinion, are the essential points.

Road infrastructure, like your budget, starts with a good plan and will go hand in hand with your budget. Understanding your roads, their needs and costs, is a crucial step in laying out a plan. With proper budgetary allocation, funding through grants and yearly maintenance, our road infrastructure should improve.

When discussing high speed internet, using the word infrastructure is key. For many years, our government and state officials have viewed high speed internet access as a matter of convenience. With the world moving to a paper-free and fingertip accessible type of environment, high speed internet is no longer a matter of convenience but a matter of necessity. During the pandemic, I had the chance to speak with our Congressman, our Governor’s office and State Senators about this issue. While in my opinion, high speed internet should have been considered infrastructure even prior to the pandemic, since then, there has been a shift and it is now considered an essential part of a town’s infrastructure. The goal is to have 100% of our town have access to high speed internet. I have worked closely with our high speed internet providers and, while this is still a work in progress, we are making great strides towards achieving this goal.

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

 

I’m not sure we should be convincing voters of anything. Our actions and deeds are what should resonate come election day. As you know, in today!s world, social media is the way in which we share information. Unfortunately that information is often incorrect, incomplete, or misinformed. I am not someone who needs a pat on the back or to be told I’m doing a good job, but I am proud of some of the accomplishments that have been made during my three-year term on committee. Below are some of those accomplishments:

  1. We revamped our website at no cost to the town, saving an initial $18,000 with annual savings of up to $3,000
  2. We balanced our budget 3 years in a row. The 1st year we stayed flat, the 2nd year we had a significant reduction averaging about $500 per household, and the 3rd year our taxes went up $12.76 per household. We did all this while reducing our capital debt, more than doubling our surplus, and raising the value of our town.
  3. Three years ago when I was first elected to Township Committee, one of the issues I ran on was obtaining high speed internet access for every part of our town. At that time roughly 3% of our town had access to high speed internet. Today I am proud to say that we have around 67% of our town covered. This has taken incredible amounts of time, patience, and a unique approach to get us where we are. It will take just as much effort, if not more, to get us passed the goal line.
  4. Our park has had a bit of a revamping and revitalization as well. The only testament to this would be stopping down and looking around. You will see nothing but positive change. We cleaned up all the garbage and debris that had been collected and thrown around for years. Additionally, we removed the two trailer containers which were also collecting garbage. The biggest improvement to the park would be the dugouts. We constructed six dugouts at no cost to the town. All the materials, labor and engineering was done through donations and volunteers. Several volunteers, myself included, spent 6 months dedicating our weekends to the construction of those dugouts. A special mention goes to Mr. John Sayer, who poured all 6 concrete pads at no cost to our town, a town in which he didn’t even live in. He sadly passed away prior to the completion of the dugouts, but our community is very grateful for his contribution.
  5. The erection of our salt shed was another major undertaking. For years this project had been kicked around, but the only thing that was achieved was the amount of engineering costs the town incurred. The initial projected cost for this project on the proposed site on Route 94 was upwards of $1.2 million. Within several meetings and the vetting of the correct information, we had a plan in place that would bring this project to fruition in a timely manner and within budget. Once the plans were approved, I personally worked closely with our engineer to make sure every dollar we spent was justified. The project completed under budget.

These are just some of the things we have accomplished as a committee over the last 3 years, all during a global pandemic, supply chain crisis and labor shortages. What I would really like the voters to know is that I have raised two of my three children in our town. I have made incredible friends, memories and moments in our town. I have coached and volunteered for our town, and I am grateful and passionate about our town. Most of all, I am committed to doing what is in the best interest of our town, in the short and long term. I think if what I have accomplished and hope to still achieve resonates with the residents, then they should vote for me. If the residents are unhappy with the changes and decisions I have made, then they should place their vote with another candidate that could exact the change they are looking for. This is what is great about our country and our democratic process.