Thursday, October 11, 2007

Marques: It's time to run township like a business

By JIM PURCELL/The Courier/Oct. 11 edition

Hazlet resident Joseph H. Marques, 52, Courtland Drive, is running for a three-year term on the Township Committee.

The married father of two is employed as a sales consultant with Verizon, in Hamilton.

He has earned a bachelor's of science degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, as well as a certificate in computer programming from Chubb Institute, in Parsippany. He rounded out his education by receiving a master certificate in information technology and project management from AT&T, in conjunction with Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken.

Marques has made Hazlet his home for 16 years, and said he has a clear vision of what he wants to do in office, if elected during the General Election held on Nov. 6th.

"I want to continue the work that has been started by Mayor Jim DiNardo and the Democratic majority on the committee," Marques said. "In particular, I want to increase the recreational opportunities in town for the kids."

Marques said this can be done while maintaining a low tax rate for residents. "I think we can save more money on the committee for residents," he said.

Marques said his professional experience has been controlling projects. "Government needs to use common sense when it involves spending. Tax dollars need to be spent with a great deal of judgment, especially at a time when the public needs to see elected officials that do not let them down," he said. "This committee is very energetic and enthusiastic about making things better in town. The committee majority, as well as my running mate (Gerard Jaume) and myself, know the tough time residents have been through in recent years and intend on putting that in the past."

The candidate said he believes more efforts have to be made to obtain state grants for various projects in town. "Some things are going to need to be bonded. But the township has to be aggressive about finding whatever grant money is available out there to help support community projects," he said.

Marques noted that, three years ago, during a different Hazlet Township Committee administration, the municipality received a $100,000 grant to clean up the pond inside Veteran's Park. "Only $40,000 of the grant was used and the project was never finished. Now the current administration is making a proposal to use the remaining $60,000 and not lose them. Following through on projects is necessary, in government as well as in life," Marques said.

Hazlet and Business

Marques said there are some empty commercial locations along Route 35 and he wants to explore new ways to attract businesses. In the case of Route 36, Marques said that revitalization is, in his opinion, a likely way to encourage business.

"The committee needs to develop a plan to expand the township's tax base, without creating additional burdens on the infrastructure," Marques said. "I think it's time for Hazlet to start comprehensive planning, looking over a multi-year period."

Marques said he is an advocate of "working smarter, not harder in making good government."

He said many Hazlet residents have to travel to work 54 miles away. Marques said his goal is to attract higher caliber businesses to the township, which can offer actual career opportunities to area residents. "I think Hazlet can attract a mid-sized company that can benefit from being here, and offer more than low-paying jobs to residents. It's just a matter of putting the work in," Marques said.

Marques said attracting business has to be approached like a project in itself. "The only reason Hazlet has not moved forward in the area of business is because previous administrations did not try hard enough," he said. "There's no reason in the world why Hazlet cannot move ahead with business, and that helps to lessen the tax burden on our residents.

Marques said that as well as cleaning up the township's finances, he is looking to clean up Hazlet insofar as community beautification.

"Where it involves public properties and the area around public buildings, I think it is time to follow up on several community beautification projects that have been put off in the past," Marques said.

Part of moving the community forward, Marques said, is motivating residents. "I think I want to spend a lot of time encouraging and supporting community volunteers. These are the people that are really making a difference in Hazlet. I want to encourage more of it, and make sure our volunteer community groups receive all the help that the committee can give them," he said.

Marques concluded that running government like a business includes fiscal responsibility, strong management skills and positive motivation, toward township employees, volunteers and residents.

"I'm looking to build consensus in the community, not divisions. I think Hazlet has had enough of partisanship. It's really time to just work with each other and focus on the town," Marques said.

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