As Election Day nears, Lacey Patch is profiling the candidates for municipal office. Read profiles on candidate Shawn Judson and Mayor Mark Dykoff, check out our Voter Guide and come back to Patch for profiles of Board of Education candidates in the coming weeks.
- Candidate Name: Gary Quinn
- Age: 56
- Address: 1204 Varuna Drive, Forked River
- Occupation: Owner of Eastport Builders
- Marital Status: Married for 33 years; has a son and daughter.
After 10 years of coaching soccer, baseball and basketball, Gary Quinn needed to fill a void.
“I felt I should do something because my folks taught me you should always give back to the community,” he said.
He served on the school board for five years, winning re-election once.
“I wanted to stick around. We were going through the expansion of the schools at that time, and I was involved in the building and bonding of the school projects,” he said. “I stuck with it until that was pretty much finished.”
Then, he was asked to run for Committee.
“At that time, I just felt I could have more of an impact on the township level verses the school level,” he said. “It was a different situation where you are working to benefit the children, and that’s what I had done in coaching all those years so I certainly enjoyed all the years I was there.”
Quinn wanted to see more rateables and jobs brought to town, he said.
“I certainly had something I could bring to the table,” he said. “If you had asked me 15 years ago if I would be doing this, I would have laughed at you. But it’s been a good 15 years. You meet a lot of good people.”
'Main issue is the economy'
Now, after nine years on the Committee, Quinn is seeking a fourth term.
“The major issue is still the economy,” he said. “Lacey for the most part is a blue-collar community. I work in the private sector so I see people struggling. People who are just trying to survive at this point in time. I know that we have to find ways to try and help those people any way we can.”
The only way to help is through tax relief or maintaining the tax level Lacey Township is currently at, he said.
“I think we have to do anything we can moving forward to try and minimize the tax impact on the residents because they just can’t afford it,” he said.
The township is still facing an 8 percent foreclosure rate and Quinn doesn’t see that changing for at least two to three more years, he said.
“The committee really has to look at that and be very self-conscious moving forward,” he said.
The township is understaffed, there’s a need for more police officers, crime and drug use has increased, he said. In the next couple years, the township will be hiring more police officers.
“There’s a five-member committee that needs to move in that direction. We know it’s going to happen,” he said.
But to do that without a tax impact will have to take some adjustments. The township is currently negotiating contracts.
Revenue is also going to pick up, Quinn said.
“Right now, we’re in the situation where I would say the worst is over. 2010 was our worst year,” he said.
In the last year, there has been a surge in the building department of residents seeking permits to make home improvements, he said.
“Every single project that comes in like that, there are dollars attached to it for the town,” he said. “We’re going to start seeing those things as the economy slowly gets better.”
The township also is looking into shared services with Berkeley Township and Stafford as well as the school district that will help the township and taxpayers, Quinn said.
“Our school district is an extremely large entity that spends a lot of money on different things, which we also spend money on,” he said. And everything the school district utilizes from the township, they should share the cost.
Oyster Creek impact
Then there’s Oyster Creek Generating Station.
“Knowing that the plant is going to shut down in 2019, we have to find a way to replace what we have there,” he said.
More than likely the township will see a gas turbine plant built there, he said.
“It will be difficult to replace the number of jobs we have there based on the technology and what we would be looking to build,” he said. “It does bring in the revenue sources that we need so that’s a really big key.”
The township also is seeking to find support of a bill that will compensate Lacey and other towns that will have to store spent fuel for years to come.
“We’re not here as employees, we’re here representing the taxpayer. At the end of the day, shame on us if we don’t do what we have to do to make sure the taxpayer is the one that benefits,” he said.
Quinn's two years as mayor, in 2010 and 2011, were difficult, he said. But the groundwork has been laid, including restructuring the township with “talented” staff at a lower cost to the township.
“I was certainly involved in a lot of that. I would like to stay involved and hopefully in the next three years, have the committee on track to move into the future,” he said.
“I think my track record that I have run on and accomplished over the last couple years is something that I’m happy with and proud of when it comes down to election day, if the voters choose to put me back in for another three years then I’ll work just as hard for another three more years.”
But even though Quinn is proud of what he has done so far, it’ll be a “coin toss” up to the day of the election, he said.
“Up to Nov. 6, it’s going to be anybody’s race. The voters have the say,” he said.