Ask your local candidate a question.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Know the Candidates

Michael Bates

Knowlton Township Committee Candidate

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


I am a resident of Knowlton. I will be on the ballot as an Independent because I want to make decisions based on what’s best for Knowlton, period, without worrying about the party politics in Trenton, on social media or beyond. Throughout my time in Knowlton, I have been a member of Knowlton Fire and Rescue. I have served in the leadership of that company for 13 years in various line officer positions; most notably as Chief of Department in 2015 and 2016. I am also currently the Emergency Management Coordinator (OEM) for the township, after serving as an assistant for many years and assuming primary duties in 2021 when the previous coordinator retired. For over a decade, I have been employed as a Construction Manager for a large electrical utility based in Newark. There, I oversee contracts and work related to the engineering, procurement and construction of switchyards and substations. I am a licensed electrician, formerly owning my own business. My wife Dawn and I have been married since 2004 and have one high school aged daughter. My experience both professionally and through volunteer organizations gives me a strong background in dealing with engineering, construction, budgets and prioritizing needs. I am a natural problem solver, and my skill set can be beneficial to the Township as it relates to reviewing scopes of work, contracts and RFPs.

What are the top three challenges facing Knowlton Township and how will you address them?

  1. Rising costs related to running the Township. As costs continue to rise in materials, salaries and all operating expenses, we need to find ways to manage those increases while keeping property taxes in check. Our Seniors and families with children have a tough time making ends meet in NJ, and we need to do what we can to make living here more affordable.
  2. The expectation of local government by the community; government is limited by design. Knowlton has always struck me as a live-and-let-live kind of a place. Neighbors are friendly and the community will help you out and give you the shirt off their backs so to speak. When my wife and I bought our first house in town we were immediately victims of one of the flooding hurricanes back in 2004. We had owned our house for 2 weeks and it sustained serious damage. It was through the outpouring of help and support that we met the core of our Knowlton friends. It’s the people who make a community and Knowlton has a long history of a strong community. I hope to help those who need the support of the township, while not unnecessarily burdening those who don’t.
  3. The Rt 80 construction as well as the warehouse developments outside of Knowlton. Truck traffic will be on the increase with these planned projects. This is good for many of our businesses. Knowlton has long been an important geographical location in transportation. From the days of using the river to ship materials, to the days when trains ruled the landscape, Knowlton has been a hub for transportation. Now trucking is a big piece of life living in Knowlton, and it does raise legitimate concerns to the safety of our residents. I don’t like increasing truck traffic, especially past the school. It’s hard enough to turn left in or out of that lot; adding truck traffic won’t help. We will have to keep on the state about monitoring the safety of these roads.

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


The current committee is very good at communicating what’s going on. Between the summary email that goes out after each of the meetings and the availability to speak during public open comments at the meetings, anyone who wants to express themselves or obtain information can. I’m not a big fan of social media posting; but if it’s important or warranted, that’s another valid means of communicating.

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


I’m not trying to convince anyone, but I will provide some information for the community to make their own informed decision; some achievements in Township-related positions have been:

2021- As OEM Coordinator, I applied for and was awarded a FEMA grant for costs associated with Winter Storm Orlena; roughly $20,000 was recouped by the Township with this effort.

2015- As Fire Chief, I worked with the Township committee to purchase a firetruck to replace a piece of equipment that was out of service for 6 years prior to this. This greatly improved KTFR’s ability to respond prepared to the vast types of incidents they are called to. I worked within a cost structure that the committee was comfortable with. We were able to purchase a used truck that served our purposes well and provided a roughly $250,000 savings over the previously quoted new apparatus that was desired.

2020- As Fire Captain, I worked with a vendor to provide essential breathing equipment for our fire fighters. I knew a neighboring dept. was working to obtain the same equipment, and we were able to secure a state contract price based on the combined volume of equipment being purchased.

My wife, Dawn Bates, has served on the Knowlton Elementary School board for 7 years now. She will run this year as a write-in candidate. Her involvement has given me an understanding of the complexities of the funding matrix the state uses to distribute money. It also has given me insight into what the schools are dealing with from an operational standpoint.

What will your priorities be for representing Knowlton?


I was approached back in the spring and initially I was a full No! My thought was: “I’m not a politician. In fact, I really don’t like politicians!” After talking about it, getting the input of a few local friends, my wife and, ultimately, hearing my daughter’s convincing Yes!, changed my mind. They highlighted my ability to speak my mind, use common sense, and think outside the box. Additionally, they referenced my leadership and professional skills as beneficial in supporting the Township’s needs. Over the years, I’ve built relationships with some of the current and past committee members who are supportive of me running. Additionally, there are others who are influential in the township who have cast their support as well. I’ve been able to bridge a gap between the folks who were born here and those that weren’t. One is not the past and the other isn’t the future. Only together will Knowlton persevere as it has for over 200 years.