Candidates Seek More Conservative Fiscal Management and Bipartisan Township Government
Although they are not in a primary battle, Dan Malloy and Doug Helmstetter are looking forward to a healthy turnout of township Democrats in a show of support on primary election day, June 5.
After all, Jefferson Democrats have not seen their party hold a local office in nearly a generation and are hoping that speculation about a “blue wave” may turn the tide. The two residents are vying for two open seats on the municipal council.
The candidates want the municipality to have “another voice” in a township where the local government only has one – that of the GOP. They agree it is time for Jefferson to have true bipartisan representation and better conservation of tax dollars.
Who Are Helmstetter and Malloy?
Although new to the political arena, the two men are not new to Jefferson. Both are married with families and have lived in the township for years (Helmstetter for 31 and Malloy for nearly a decade).
Helmstetter and his wife, Karen, raised three children, each of whom graduated from the local high school – Dougie and Rebecca in 2011, and Dorey just last June.
Malloy and his wife, Christine, have two young children, Victor and Cecilia, in the school system. The candidate tells The Jefferson Chronicle the couple settled here “because we love nature and truly feel that this community is the perfect balance between modern convenience and the beauty of New Jersey. I love the lake, the trails at Mahlon Dickerson, and feel that they make Jefferson special and unique.”
Both candidates are graduates of local colleges. Helmstetter received an associate degree at Essex County College and Malloy earned an associate degree in criminal justice at County College of Morris. The council hopefuls have both done a fair share of volunteer work in the community.
Fifty-eight-year-old Helmstetter spent time as a local soccer coach, Boy Scout leader, and volunteer with the Lake Forest swim team. He also served as a coordinator for the March of Dimes as well as the blood bank.
These days, the candidate says, he is an active participant in “Saturdays at the Center, a Department for Persons with Disabilities (DPD) program that helps young adults with developmental disabilities to learn and socialize.” The DPD is operated by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Paterson.
Calling himself “an avid animal lover,” Helmstetter is on the board of Animal Life Savers and an active participant of the group. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and reading in any spare time he has.
A former employee of Public Service Electric & Gas, the candidate retired after 37 years as a combustion turbine operator. “I was also an EMT while working at Hudson Generating Station,” he notes.
“While working,” he says, “I served as the financial secretary of local union 1330 IBEW.” The candidate sees this fiscal management as ideal experience to serve on the local council, which he believes is not fiscally conservative.
Thirty-two-year-old Malloy tells The Chronicle, “My wife and I are strong members of the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) community, as we have lost many close friends to breast cancer.” The YSC offers resources, connections, and outreach to young women with breast cancer. Through fundraising efforts like cycling marathons, the group raises revenue to support resources and research.
“During the year, Christine and I mentor new cyclists for the YSC and raise money for the organization,” he adds. “Why We Ride” is the name of the Malloy cycling team. The couple was also involved with the recent production of the Taco Trot 5k to raise funds for the YSC.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy, the candidate served through four deployments including one in the Persian Gulf. He was also deployed in three West Pacific operations.
Malloy received many awards and medals while serving in the military. “The one I am the proudest of is the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for actions during a fire on the ship and my actions and efforts preceding the event,” he says.
During his naval career, the council hopeful was a gas turbine system engineer and led a fire squad of more than 14 sailors. Malloy is confident this successful management experience – in a high-stress environment – will serve him well as a municipal council member.
Why They Are Running for Office
Both Democratic candidates strongly believe bipartisan representation is essential in a democracy. They were inspired to run for office to add new voices to local government. They believe the Republican stronghold on the township needs a breath of fresh air and some original thought.
“We need a voice from another side to achieve checks and balances,” Helmstetter tells The Chronicle. “Sometimes things are just rubber-stamped.”
The candidate also believes the township’s taxes are too high. “Many of our important services are volunteer, like fire and rescue,” he notes, questioning why the budget for salaries is so high. He believes that fiduciary responsibility is an uppermost priority and says he will put a strong effort into increasing the town’s ratables as a way of mitigating the tax burden on residents.
Pro-environment, Helmstetter says he believes the township not only needs to preserve its open spaces but must make them more accessible for residents. “We could be doing better,” he adds.
Malloy believes he can make a change in the community. “My experience with leadership in the military, my ability to budget and make successful decisions” are qualifications he cites as strong suits.
“As I have spoken with town residents over the past months, I have heard an increase in confusion and anger over pay raises, lawsuits, and developments in town,” the candidate says. “My aim is to increase accountability and view the budget and pay raises from a perspective that will represent our town’s interest,” he adds.
The candidates emphasize they expect to bring voice to issues like high taxes and salaries as well as create a long overdue bipartisan representation to Jefferson Township.