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Making Government Work for You

It's no surprise this is an issue - it's the central theme of my campaign.

Having worked for and sold to companies in the Fortune 50, and later in my career opting to be on the ground floor of several start-ups, there's one thing I've noticed that companies both large and small often forget.  Their customers.  

Similarly, all too often government forgets who their customers are - you, the people.  But we are fortunate here in Bedminster that our local elected officials hold themselves accountable only to the residents, as opposed to Trenton or a party boss.

We, as elected officials, should be responsive and accountable to our residents, and advocate on their behalf in situations where a single voice is insufficient, and the swing weight of government is required.  That requires listening to our residents, their issues and concerns, and then acting where we have legal and legislative authority.

Over the past three years, I've heard you loud and clear.  When the township meeting room was filled to capacity with residents rightly angry over persistent power outages, we acted.  I personally made it my mission to make sure JCP&L took action and made improvements to their infrastructure and operations. This included cable and transformer replacements within the Hills, relocation of a vulnerable transmission line adjacent to the 287S entrance, circuit switching and redundancy upgrades, increased tree trimming and statistical monitoring of the five circuits that serve Bedminster.  I even wound up testifying in front of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), urging them to make sure JCP&L continues to make the investments necessary to sustain these improvements.  These changes have decreased the frequency and duration of power outages throughout the township, but more work clearly remains to be done. Most recently, in addition to service and infrastructure improvements (including the replacement of switches and transformers throughout the Hills), I was able to secure JCP&L's commitment to maintain the electric service laterals, saving each homeowners association tens of thousands of dollars.

If power outages are problem 1A in Bedminster, then poor cable service is problem 1B.  The infrastructure originally installed by TKR Cable (remember them?) in the Hills is an aging Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) network. Back in the 80's and early 90's it was just fine for “57 Channels And Nothin' On” (sorry, Bruce fan here), but it was never designed nor intended to support our always-on lifestyle of the 2020's.  The pandemic brought this into sharp focus, as everyone working, studying, streaming and playing from home exceeded the network's capacity and capabilities.  Something had to be done.

After working extensively with Altice (formerly Cablevision) senior management, they agreed to make the Hills the first condo development in New Jersey to undergo a transformative upgrade.  The "Bedminster Project" as it is dubbed internally within Altice will result in a state-of-the-art Fiber to the Home (FTTH) network being installed at no expense to the homeowners or the community.  It will provide increased speeds, much more reliable service and a better end user experience.  Over the past two years, I have personally been involved with each homeowner's association in the Hills to make this a reality and ensure that Altice is living up to its commitments.  The good news is that construction began in April of 2023, and will continue throughout the summer and fall as more and more neighborhoods are transitioned to this new fiber platform.  Want to learn more?  Click here.

When New Jersey American Water (NJAW) announced plans for a rate, I went to work.  Looking at the numbers, I quickly realized that the actual increase was in excess of 20%, far beyond what NJAW was publicly touting, and would have caused the average family's water bill to increase by about $100 per year.  Bedminster led the way in hiring legal and economic experts, and partnered with surrounding towns to share the expense.  With a lot of persistence and hard work, we won our battle against NJAW!

Recognizing that food would become a critical need for families impacted by the pandemic, I created the Bedminster Food Pantry, and personally manned the food tables every day.  During its ten weeks in operation, the pantry served over 650 families in need, providing non-perishables, toiletries and gift cards to Bedminster residents.

But there's always more to do. In order to better improve communications with our residents, I worked to help revamp the Bedminster website, so that it could become a better tool to both get information and conduct business, like online tax and sewer payments.  With our construction and permitting process lacking a digital presence, I negotiated with a third party service provider (Spatial Data Logic) to bring new capabilities and services online (check it out here).  Recognizing that our resident alerting system was lacking, I championed the move to a new platform which we call Bedminster Alert (BTW, you can sign-up here). 

In an effort to increase transparency, I worked to implement our new Zoom platform, where you can access township meetings in real-time or via recording. With the pandemic ending, many municipalities are phasing out virtual participation in meetings - but not Bedminster!  The Mayor, my township committee colleagues and myself all want you to be able to participate in local government however you so choose - in person, over the phone or on your device.  Have something else you want or need? Let us know, because we're listening.

Making government work for you is my passion.  Listening to your concerns - in person, on Facebook, via Nextdoor - and then figuring out how I can best address those needs is my promise to you.

Paid for By Colin Hickey 2023,
Jim Christie, Treasurer
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