By Mike Zummo
Candidates discussed the need to end negativity in Vernon Township on Wednesday at a Candidate’s Night, sponsored by the Vernon Taxpayers’ Association at Vernon Township High School.
The forum was moderated by the League of Women’s Voters.
Two of the three mayoral candidates – Howard Burrell and Daniel Storey - were in attendance. The third candidate, Township Council President Jean Murphy declined to attend.
Burrell said the town was at a crossroads and is facing steady population decline, while Storey stressed the need for more ratables and stressed the need for Mountain Creek to thrive as he said it is tied to the township.
Storey said more ratables in the township will stabilize what he called increasing tax rates.
“Business is the key to keep taxes from going sky-high,” Storey said.
That’s one of the areas where Storey and Burrell agreed as Burrell it’s the only way to get control of taxes.
They also agreed that Vernon Township needs to be easier to work with. Storey told the story of a homeowner who wanted work on her home, but when the contractor realized she lived in Vernon, the price went up $2,000.
“The township’s reputation is not friendly for business,” Burrell said.
Their main disagreement on township issues were trails. Storey believed completing the hiking trails was important to bringing people to Vernon Township and growing local business.
Burrell said while bringing people into the township is important, economic development should be a higher priority.
Two of the four council candidates – J. Scott Ghysels and Margaret DiStasi – were in attendance. Mayor Harry Shortway, who is seeking a council seat instead of seeking re-election, declined to attend and moderator Toni Zimmer said Kelly Weller did not respond to her invitation.
According to League of Women Voters rules, Ghysel and DiStasi were unable to participate in the “question-and-answer” because only two candidates for two seats came to the forum. They were only able to make 2-minute opening and closing statements.
In his opening remarks, Ghysel said he saw a lot of things not getting done and in her opening statement DiStasi said she wants to bring pride back to the township
“I want my grandson to be proud to be from Vernon,” she said. “I am dedicated to bringing that back.”