Three candidates seek vote in June 3 election

Boyce, Blackburn and Burke running for two seats

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Meet the candidates

Dolores Blackburn
Age: 69
Party affiliation: Republican
Political history: Served two terms as a Sparta councilmember and one term as mayor. In 2012, appointed to fill a position on the Andover Township Committee. Elected last year.
Occupation: Retired attorney
Education: Graduated from Montclair State University, B.A. in Education, and The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
Family: Married to Ken Roberts. Daughter, Pam Hinman, and granddaughter reside in Andover Township.
Philip Boyce
Age: 61
Party affiliation: Republican
Political history: two terms as mayor, six years on the Andover Town Commitee, President of the school board in Colorado before moving in 1995.
Occupation: Vice president of a radio broadcasting company.
Education: Majored in mass communications, minored in political science at the University of Southern Colorado.
Family: Married to Diana. Son Ryan, daughter Brittany. Five grandchildren,
John “Jack” Burke
Age: 43
Party affiliation: Republican
Political history: None
Occupation: Regional director for the Northeast U.S. at Mimedx Group Inc, an integrated developer, manufacturer and marketer of patent protected regenerative biomaterial products and bioimplants.
Education: University of Delaware, History.
Family: Married 14 years to Sabrina Burke. Three children John, 8, Julia, 5, and Alaina, 3.

— Andover Township residents will be casting their votes for two seats on the town council in the upcoming primary on Tuesday, June 3.

The positions are three-year terms.

The three republican candidates on the ballot include incumbents Mayor Phil Boyce and Deputy Mayor Dolores Blackburn and challenger John Burke. No democrats have entered the race.

Boyce has been on the Andover Township Committee for six years while Blackburn was appointed in 2012 after the resignation of Bob Smith. Blackburn was elected last year to serve the balance of the term.

The Township Journal asked each candidate to fill out a profile and answer questions about the township leading up to June 3 election. Here are their responses:

Q: What do you think needs to be done to keep municipal taxes from rising?

Blackburn - Two things need to be done. One is to continue seeking other sources of funding for special projects. We have been very successful in the past applying for and receiving funding and this practice needs to continue. Secondly, we need to reduce our debt service. Historically, the Township has funded major projects and purchases through issuing municipal bonds and as a result we now have about $500,000 in outstanding bonds. Moving forward, we need to put additional monies into reserves in order to make these purchases without further borrowing.

Boyce - We have to start running the town like a business. We can no longer just keep going to the taxpayers for more money every time the budget gets tight. This year we raised taxes in Andover Township higher than any town in Sussex county. Not just a little higher, but double the second highest town. I voted no and I think in the future we have to start saying no to these types of increases.

Burke - We should increase revenue by developing a smart master plan that brings new ratables to our community. We need ratables and the revenue they bring to support our services, whether it is keeping our roads plowed in winter or recreation programs for our children and seniors. However, we need to obtain these ratables without compromising the rural character of our community. We will encourage new businesses to take advantage of opportunities such as the new Roseville train station. This train station is coming soon. It has the potential to be a great opportunity for our town and needs to be planned for.

Q: What would you do to bring more residents and businesses to Andover Township?

Blackburn - For businesses, we are working towards simplifying the application, permitting and approval processes for opening or expanding a business in the Township. Two new businesses opened in the Township recently and we hope this trend continues.

To assist business owners, we are currently working on a sign ordinance amendment, specifically addressing the needs of businesses to advertise their special events and products. The County recently shared the results of a study regarding the changing demographics of Sussex County. According to this study, our population is slowly declining with young families choosing to live in more urban areas. I think for now, it is more important to make efforts to encourage our current residents to stay in Andover and provide them with quality services.

Boyce - We have become more business friendly, but that has to contine. Other towns are bringing in 55 and over housing. We have not had a major ratable come into our town in years. We have to be more aggressive in attracting them. [Blackburn] and I are committed to attracting businesses that can provide a more solid tax base, while not detracting from Andover's wonderful rural characteristics.

I am seeing more interest in home sales now than we saw a few years ago. As Mayor I have worked very hard to get the word out on this town. We have awesome people doing great things, giving back to this community. We provide the best services of any town in the country.

Burke - Andover needs to be an attractive place to live that offers a great quality of life for both our children and our seniors. My wife and I have a history of volunteerism through organizations such as the Andover Regional Education Foundation and Andover Township Recreation Department. We have worked to provide more recreation services and programs through volunteerism and donations, without raising taxes. We will continue to do so.

To attract business we need to improve our processes so that businesses want to invest in our community. Folks need to know we welcome their business investment and that we are going to work with them quickly and inexpensively. However, we need to do the above without changing the rural character of our township and the very qualities that make Andover Township the place we choose to call home.

Q: What are three issues you want to have addressed?

Blackburn - 1- The Route 206 Corridor. There are 12 vacant business properties in Andover Township along Route 206 and additional vacancies in Byram and Stanhope. As a gateway to Sussex County, this roadway should be rehabilitated or developed to encourage visitors to stay or return. 2- The Andover Train Station. This NJ Transit station, to be located on Roseville Road, is on track to be completed in two to three years. The Township should be prepared for possible changes to zoning and traffic, with the new station. 3 - Andover Town Center. With multiple zip codes and telephone exchanges, Andover lacks an identity. While we cannot change these, we could look at other viable ways to set the Township apart.

Boyce – 1- We have the best fire department in the county. We need to protect their resources. Same for our emergency squad and the police department.

2- Those who don't learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them.

3- We have the best people in the state in our town, and we need to continue to get the word out on what a great place to live this is.

Burke - Tax stability, government guided by common sense and better communication.

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