Editor’s note: Each of the nine candidates running for a seat on the Brick Township Council were sent a questionnaire by Brick Shorebeat. Their answers to our questions will be published on our site verbatim. We have disabled comments on profile articles to ensure the candidates’ statements speak for themselves and readers can decide, without additional, potentially anonymous commentary, their view on those running for office.
Full Name: James Fozman
Current Age: 61
I graduated from Franklin Township High School in 1972 then began work at Johnson & Johnson where I stayed for 13 years. While there I served as a Shop Steward, where I gained important skills in negotiating and resolving problems. I moved on and worked as a foreman for a North Brunswick based plumbing company. I then started a local Heating and Air Conditioning business which I ran for over 15 years, all the while taking the necessary certificate classes and tests required to keep up with the constantly changing rules and regulations in my field.
I am currently retired, and live with my wife Vera in our home in the Herbertsville section, where we have lived for 28 years, and raised three children. We also have six grandchildren, who we adore.
I have served our town as a Pop Warner coach and Little League Baseball coach. I am particularly proud of organizing an annual volunteer effort to clean and maintain the “Freedom Square” for Armed Forces Day. Since I’ve retired, I have more time than ever to spend on my duties as Councilman. I don’t do it because I have to, but because I want to. My wife Vera and I are proud to be residents of Brick, and I’m proud to serve as your Councilman.
Do you currently receive any public salary compensation? If so, from what public agency?
I receive only the $8,000 salary for my work on the Township Council.
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
It has been my pleasure to serve as a Brick Township Councilman for the past four years. I was first elected in 2011, when I ran with Mayor Ducey, and I am seeking my first re-election this year.
If elected or re-elected to council, will you choose to receive taxpayer-funded health benefits from your elected position? Why or why not?
When I was first elected, I was working full time managing my own business, a Heating, Cooling and Refrigeration Company. My business provided health insurance to me and my employees, and I did not take health insurance from the Township. After I retired from my business, Councilman became a full time job for me. I work 40 hours a week – or more, on my duties on Council. Since I work full time, it is appropriate that the township provide health insurance – just like the other full time employees.
The Pannucci Acropolis Republicans have also attacked me for my service on the MUA. I’d like to make it clear – I take zero salary and zero benefits for my work at the MUA – I am a volunteer.
Before our team was in the majority, part-time commissioners of the MUA, who only worked a few hours a month, took health insurance and a stipend. We pledged that we would only appoint to the MUA Commissioners who pledged to refuse the health benefits – and we have kept that pledge. The only commissioner who still takes health benefits is Al Cartine, who was appointed by the Acropolis-Pannucci team. Al Cartine voted to give Mr. Pannucci an unnecessary patronage job for over $100,000 – as Director of Customer Accounts. When the Democrats determined the job was unnecessary, and eliminated the position, Mr. Cartine fought (unsuccessfully) to keep Mr. Pannucci in the unneeded paid position.
For the better part of the last decade, one of the top questions on the minds of Brick Township residents has been the redevelopment of the former Foodtown site on Route 70. How would you like to see the site redeveloped – commercial, residential Should future proposals set aside space for public to access Forge Pond?
Our government officials should not be real estate developers. The decision to buy the Foodtown site was a mistake. I voted to block the building of 192 condominium units on the Foodtown site. My vision is to return the Foodtown site to the private sector and manage its development through proper zoning regulations and building and traffic codes. We should also reserve a portion of the site for a community/senior center for all of our residents. All development on the site must be guided by our master plan, which our team will work together to achieve. As a small business owner, I believe that commercial properties, and the businesses run on those sites should not be government owned. They belong in the private sector, where they can be properly run, and generate property tax revenue.
The concept of perceived “overdevelopment” in Brick has generated a great deal of concern by township residents in recent years, especially given the construction of hundreds of new residential housing units that is currently underway. How should Brick Township manage what land remains undeveloped, and what zoning and land use limitations – if any – should be put on continued residential development in town?
The problem of overdevelopment should be handled by putting in appropriate zoning regulations that forbid high density and inappropriate development. I voted to change our zoning so that there will be no new schools, especially private schools, being built in our town in residential areas. I also voted with the Township Council to block 192 condo units at the Foodtown site. We do not need more residential condo units or apartments in our town. We have also recently joined a lawsuit to put a stop to the out-of-control affordable housing obligations that the State imposes on towns in New Jersey. The Ducey administration has brought a new mindset to our town that has not previously been in place – a team effort to stop multi-family housing projects that are destroying some of our neighboring towns. I will continue the fight against these projects and make sure that our regulations get even stronger.
We recognize that state policies and judicial decisions have accounted for a significant share of New Jersey residents’ highest-in-the-nation property tax burden, but local policies often have the most direct – and immediate – effect on tax bills. Please share any specific policies you favor through which the cost of municipal government would be reduced or revenue could be generated to offset the property tax burden. Should the township’s workforce be increased or reduced in certain departments or divisions, with the aim of saving money by either bringing services in-house or, conversely, looking to the private sector?
Four years ago, property tax increases were out of control. You elected us to stop the reckless spending ‒ and we did. Our team has kept Brick taxes stable 4 years in a row. I served as Chair of the Business and Finance Committee, and would like to continue our efforts to reduce the size of government and keep Brick affordable. This is how we did it.
We eliminated unnecessary positions ‒ a total of 8 Political Patronage jobs were cut, saving $980,000. We slashed 12 unwarranted salaries and stipends, saving $200,000, and implemented an overtime reduction plan saving $370,000. Over $100,000 in electrical costs were saved by entering into a shared service agreement with the BTMUA.
Continuing to keep our taxes stable is a paramount issue for me and the rest of our team. I am also proud that we eliminated a “hidden tax” on our residents, in the form of the red light cameras. They did not increase safety on our roadways. They only took money out of our pockets and I’m glad that I could work with Mayor Ducey to eliminate them.
In the last four years, I have served as Chairman of Business and Finance, DPW Committee, and the Sandy Recovery & Mitigation Committee. I want to use this experience to continue Making Brick Better.
In 2014, Brick enacted a “Rental Responsibility” ordinance aimed at holding absentee landlords responsible for leasing their properties to tenants who commit crimes. What other specific proposals do you favor to reduce crime in “troubled” rental communities and neighborhoods where crime issues are recognized as being a heightened concern compared to the remainder of the township?
Reducing the crime problems in our town has been, and will continue to be, one of my top priorities on the Township Council. As Chairman of the Business and Finance Committee, I worked with Mayor Ducey to expand the police force from 125 to 132 officers. A strong police presence is absolutely essential. I also worked to reinstate the Selective Enforcement Team (SET), known as the Gang Task Force, with its particular focus on drug-related crimes. The SET team had been eliminated under the prior administration.
We have worked hard, but much more remains to be done, as the crime problem persists in our town and throughout the county and State. Much of the crime is drug-related and arises from the heroin problems in our communities. I have been helping to put together neighborhood watch programs, because community involvement is critical to stem the drug scourge in our town. This problem concerns us all, and all of us can help. I also intend to continue working on the prescription drug disposal, known as Project Medicine Drop, where our seniors and all residents can safely dispose of unneeded prescription medication. Many drug addicts break into homes looking for painkillers, so disposal of unneeded medications is another way to help. Finally, I have voted to approve strong coordination and shared services agreements between our township police department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office. Both agencies are equally important groups. Our police investigate crimes, and the county prosecutes the offenders. Sharing resources and working together is essential. I intend to continue my efforts in all of these areas on the Township Council.