In Monroe Race, Mud Is Cast Aside For A Focus On Key Township Issues

Posted: October 26, 1998

MONROE — Compared with the Democratic primary, which resembled a televised pro-wrestling match with all of its name-calling and finger-pointing, the mayoral election here has been uncharacteristically calm.

Republican Jerry Moore, 58, the township councilman who ran uncontested in the primary, said he brings harmony to the table and does not ``get into negativity.''

Democrat Mary Duffy, 57, the former councilwoman who defeated incumbent Jack Luby, her longtime political rival, in a bitter June primary, also claims that mudslinging is not ``her style.''

And for now, at least, the candidates are being true to their word. They are limiting their campaigns to performance and personality. Their slates for Nov. 3, which are wrangling for three open at-large council seats, also have not succumbed to dirty tactics.

Moore, a salesman, husband and father of three, pledges to promote economic growth, use resources efficiently, and improve communication between all governing bodies and residents. Duffy, a former nurse, and a wife and mother of five, plans to focus on tax stabilization, recreational needs and public safety.

In separate interviews last week, Duffy and Moore addressed a number of controversial, key issues that often surface at Town Hall, ranging from a new library to sand mining.

For years, politicians have discussed the need for a new civic center and new public library because the current facilities are too small. Duffy said she wants to put the issue to voters, letting them decide how to finance the construction of these facilities. She proposes using donated materials and volunteers if a suitable location is found.

Moore said the way to finance such a facility is through taxes. ``In order to supplement taxes, we have to get after economic development and economic growth,'' he said. ``We [he and his running mates] have experience with that, and we know how to do that.''

Earlier this month, the Township Council voted to reimburse the school board more than $12,000 for expenses incurred by the youth basketball league, which uses school facilities for practice and games. Moore made the motion for the action at the meeting.

``We don't want to punish 400 youth, and we do not want to see them standing around doing nothing,'' Moore said. ``They need support from the school and the municipal government.''

Although Duffy said the action was admirable, she said she believes it set a dangerous precedent. ``If they do it for one organization, then they're going to have to do it for other organizations that don't have any place to go either and can't afford to do it,'' Duffy said. ``If we had a recreation center of our own, we wouldn't have to put out money upon money.''

Both candidates agree that there is a need for additional fire services in the northwest end of the township. Duffy, again, proposes letting the voters decide whether to start a third fire company or a substation to one of the existing companies.

Moore, however, supports a statute currently being drafted by the ordinance committee. The statute, if approved by the council, would lock Monroe into a five-year contract with all existing emergency management companies and require the township to use only those services.

``I believe strongly that all expansion should be under the flagship of the existing companies,'' Moore said. ``With that flagship, we can have satellite stations in the northwest and in all parts of the community.''

Controversy continues over whether to ban sand mining, which many residents believe endangers wildlife in the Pinelands and creates unnecessary truck traffic along narrow roads. The township currently has three sand mines.

Duffy is adamantly against any more sand mining in the township. ``We have had enough,'' she said. ``We have had our share. Now it is someone else's turn.''

Moore said that he was not in favor of or against sand mines, saying that the Planning Board reviews all applications.

``I am not for giving away our township, I can tell you that here and now, but nor am I against working against legitimate business,'' Moore said.

Moore is a 28-year-resident of Monroe who was elected to a four-year term in 1994. His slate includes Councilman Bill Collins, a former Philadelphia police officer; Bob Orr, a Woodbury attorney; and Nancy Caruso, director of constituent services for Sen. John Matheussen.

Duffy is a former eight-year council member who lost to incumbent Jack Luby in the 1994 and 1996 Democratic primaries. Her slate includes David Cornell, an engineer for Boeing Co. in Ridley Park; Kathleen ``Carino'' Simon, a teacher for Whitehall Elementary School; and Len Dramesi, owner of a local catering business.

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