Candidate Profile: John Ducey (D)
Candidates for the Brick Township Council respond to questions posed by Brick Patch
Editor's Note: Each of the eight candidates running for a seat on the township council responded to a questionnaire sent by Brick Patch. Their answers to our questions will be published on our site verbatim. Two candidate profiles per day – one Republican and one Democrat – in alphabetical order according to last name, will appear this week until all have been published. We have disabled comments on profile articles to ensure the candidates' statements speak for themselves and readers can decide, without additional, potentially anonymous commentary, their view on those running for office.
Full Name: John G. Ducey
Current Age: 41
Highest level of education achieved (feel free to list your high school, college, and the nature of any degrees you have earned):
I graduated from Monsignor Donovan High School, Barry University with a Bachelor Of Science Degree and obtained my Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Miami School of Law.
Do you currently receive any public salary compensation? If so, from what public agency?
I do not receive a public salary, benefits or pension. I have a law firm on Herbertsville Road that provides legal representation to a variety of clients in several areas of practice. As one part of my law practice, I serve as a municipal prosecutor and alternate municipal prosecutor. My firm is paid for that work on a per diem basis by the towns I serve.
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
No. This is my first time running for public office.
If elected or re-elected to council, will you choose to receive taxpayer-funded health benefits from your elected position? Why or why not?
A change in law has occurred. Chapter 2 P.L. 2010, New Jersey State Law, no longer affords health benefits to newly elected officials. I would be a newly elected official.
Like those in most New Jersey communities, property taxes are, perhaps, the primary concern of most township residents in this election cycle. Regardless of the impact of state policies on our property tax bills, summarize some specific ideas you have to stabilize or reduce the property tax burden for Brick residents.
My running mates and I believe that our plan for property taxes is the most critical component of our campaign. We have to change the financial disasters of the current administration. In the past year alone, municipal property taxes in Brick have gone up 24% -- the highest increase of any town in the state. In the past four years, municipal spending has increased from $42 million to $68 million. In this economic climate, these spending excesses have to stop. We have a 6 point plan to stop overspending. We expect the Republicans to oppose these changes, but with the four of us together on council can pass our plan,
- Eliminate unnecessary political jobs.
- Eliminate overpriced no-bid contracts to campaign contributors.
- Eliminate Cadillac benefits for MUA appointees.
- Implement a plan for regular maintenance of our roads and infrastructure.
- Conduct an operational audit to identify more cost savings.
- No more full-time pay for part-time work.
I am particularly focused on the elimination of unnecessary political jobs. At a time when other towns have cut unnecessary management positions, the current administration in Brick has been creating six-figure jobs and filling positions that had been vacant for years. As one example, the township council created a new position of assistant business administrator, and appointed one of the mayor’s political friends at a salary of $150,000. We will eliminate those unnecessary positions. Our team of Ducey, Lydecker, Fozman and Moore looks forward to implementing this plan when we take office in January.
Though it held relatively stable in the recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, crime in Brick has been trending upward in recent years. Compounding matters, our police department, due to budgetary constraints, also recently had to disband its Selective Enforcement Team (SET Team), a specialized anti-crime unit. Please describe your plan, including specifics, to maintain and promote public safety in Brick.
As a municipal prosecutor, I am on the front lines of crime in Ocean County and I see every day the problems that are faced by law enforcement. The crimes that need critical attention are those related to drugs, which create the most violent and destructive criminal offenses in our town. The Selective Enforcement Team (SET) was extremely effective against this epidemic, until it was disbanded earlier this year for budgetary reasons. Reports indicated that in a six-month period, the SET unit increased the number of drug-related arrests by 300 percent. Well over 500 arrests were made at the height of the unit's tenure in town. Too much money is being spent on the top heavy administrative jobs in Brick at the expense of law enforcement. It is clear that other cuts in town could have been made starting with the mayor’s full time salary for part time work rather than this important area of law enforcement. We will make reinstating the SET a top priority.
Please describe your vision for the former Foodtown site on Route 70, and how you would favor executing that vision and bringing it to fruition.
The current administration signed a contract in April 2009 to sell the property to a redeveloper, the sale has not closed, no money has been paid to the town, and no closing date is even scheduled. On top of that, Mayor Acropolis made a deal with the redevelopers to give them a property tax break so that, for the next 20 years, they will only pay part of their property taxes. The mayor and council have even agreed to consider loaning township funds to the redeveloper if he cannot get financing for the project‘s construction. This is wrong on all fronts. Our elected officials are not real estate developers, or bankers, and shouldn’t try to be, especially with our tax dollars. My vision for the Foodtown site is to get the property back into private ownership and back on the tax rolls. The property has stood vacant since the town bought it in 2003, costing us almost a million dollars in lost tax revenue. This million dollars could have been used to fund the Special Enforcement Team discussed above. The only time any activity occurs on the site is directly before an election. When Mayor Acropolis was running for mayor, one month before the election, in October 2009, the old building was demolished. Exactly 2 years later, a few weeks ago, a truck magically appeared with a picture of a shopping plaza stating that a shopping center was "coming soon". Enough is enough of the political games with the site. This ongoing saga must end. It would be nice if some of the empty buildings and shopping centers could be filled before building more but since the current administration has locked us into a contract, our team’s priority is to close on the property as soon as possible in order to get it back on the tax rolls.
Brick has more frontage on Barnegat Bay that any other community in Ocean County. In all, it boasts 53 miles of waterfront. Keeping in mind that many of these waterfront lands are privately owned, what is your plan to promote public access to natural areas and maintain other recreational facilities for Brick residents?
Our town is very fortunate to have some great municipal beaches and parks. Windward Beach, which the town has owned for years, gives our residents wonderful beach access and recreational activities year-round. Our ocean beaches, known as Brick Beach 1, 2 and 3, are wonderful for swimming, fishing and sunbathing in the summer, and for enjoyment all year round. I will work to preserve Barnegat Bay and our waterways so that we can continue to enjoy these great natural resources. We need to take serious measures to reduce the contaminants polluting the bay. Our team will work to improve the health of the bay and to maintain this precious resource.