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: Michael Conti
Current Age: 36
Brick Memorial High School, Class of 1997
BA History and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park
M.Ed Curriculum and Instruction, University of Maryland, College Park
Mortgage Loan Originator
Do you currently receive any public salary compensation? If so, from what public agency?
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
Yes, I ve had the pleasure of serving Brick Township as a Board of Education Member for a 3 year term; 2013 – 2015.
If elected or re-elected to council, will you choose to receive taxpayer-funded health benefits from your elected position? Why or why not?
I will accept whatever compensation and benefits that is currently provided to council.
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?
The Foodtown saga is a travesty. The taxpayer expense, lost tax revenue on ratables, and visual blight has severely impacted Brick Township. It has cost you and me dearly.
This property is presently zoned highway commercial. I will vote as quickly as I can to sell this parcel at public auction to an interested party who will bring a development plan to our planning board for consideration in accordance with our zoning master plan.
The Township should not be in the land development or ownership business. We need to return this property to the tax rolls immediately and let the private sector develop it in accordance with our plan.
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?
Overdevelopment and wrong development are very real in Brick. The current Democrat administration has failed to realize that action must be taken to rebuild and revitalize our commercial business sector and to control run away residential development.
I will propose immediately that we form a committee and immediately review and modify our Zoning Master Plan. This plan controls what can be built, where it can be built and how it should be built. This process involves all parties in the town and when complete is our blueprint for the future.
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?
Property taxes are out of control and the Democrats have raised fees and taxes every year they have been in office.
This has to stop.
First, I would immediately propose to upgrade our IT computer services. The current system is archaic and extraordinarily inefficient. An enormous savings can be generated through the efficiencies that are available with modern, computing equipment. The savings from this can be used in areas to gain more efficiencies and continue to drive costs down. This one item has the potential to be huge
Second, I would propose to immediately reassign someone to Township Economic Director. The sole purpose of this individual would be to attract new business to our Township with a focus on existing vacancies. Jobs, tax revenue, and a revitalized community would quickly follow.
Third, builder related services, including code enforcement, inspection, zoning, and engineering need to be modernized and supplemented. We need to turn around requests for permits, inspections and constructions in a much more timely fashion. Our customer is our residents and currently our customer service is lacking.
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?
As we’ve seen in Brick Township, drugs and crime do not know borders or individual communities. The current administration has had 4 years to provide our excellent police force with the resources they need to fight the issues that face Brick Township; they’ve failed and failed miserably. We have a 6 point plan to address the heroin epidemic that the Mayor and his silent incumbent council fail to address:
• Partner with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to leverage resources, technology and manpower
• Improve access to our County’s addiction recovery and counseling programs
• Create a “Drug-Free Brick Advisory Commission” to enhance communications and responsiveness between our community, government and police
• Create police substations in drug hot spots and do more community policing
• Continue to supply resources to the DARE program and Lead and Seed Programs, both of which were expanded under my term as a board member with Frank Pannucci.