3 running for 2 seats on Township Committee

HAMPTON TWP. Incumbents David Hansen and Philip Yetter are competing with Michael Rathbun in the June 6 Republican primary.

| 25 May 2023 | 09:59

Two incumbents, David Hansen and Philip Yetter, and Michael Rathbun, a former official in Franklin, are running for two seats on the Hampton Township Committee in the Republican primary Tuesday, June 6.

The terms are for three years.

Hansen, an engineer and longtime resident, has been a member of the Township Committee since 1988. He also has served more than 12 years on the Planning Board.

Yetter, a farmer and lifelong resident, formerly served as mayor for more than 30 years.

Rathbun, who has worked in government and public relations, is a former member of the Franklin Borough Council.

David Hansen

Why are you running for office?

I am running for re-election again to continue my work assisting in the management of the township and to keep a close eye on the township as a whole.

Having a municipal engineering background, having been an engineer-of-record in various towns in North Jersey, I have seen different programs and management and have closely watched those that work and those that haven’t.

I offer my past experience in various discussions regarding roads, capital projects, and Department of Public Works and township operations.

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

Taxes, investigating shared services and keeping Hampton a rural community.

As for taxes, there are several areas where the costs associated with our annual budget cannot be truly controlled: one is the rising costs of insurance, utilities and salaries. The state-mandated 2 percent cap on municipal tax increases causes the town to be more creative in how the municipal dollars are spent.

Regarding shared services, in order to provide the services our residents are used to, we have continued to investigate various shared service interlocal agreements with other municipalities to maintain the Building Department, Animal Control and Municipal Court operations at reasonable costs to our residents.

Our Township Committee has always looked toward using interlocal services to provide service and support since sole funding of these types of services is not cost-effective.

Lastly, keeping Hampton rural; this is an ongoing job to maintain continued ratable growth while at the same time maintaining the rural nature of the township.

We, as a committee, have worked with various land owners and groups to provide Farmland Preservation and Green Acres funds to protect several large tracts of land to be kept in farmland activities or parkland forever. Unfortunately, this also folds back into the need to offset the loss of tax income by looking to build on the commercial ratable base along the Route 206/94 corridor.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Besides having 35 years of experience on the committee dealing with budgets and capital projects, my current and past experience as a professional engineer, municipal engineer and certified public works manager.

I have seen how other towns have handled issues and can provide opinions to my committee on a varied list of projects and issues that come across our desks at the township.

As a municipal engineer working for a Morris County town, daily I am reviewing projects and capital project contracts to ensure projects are run efficiently as possible, keeping cost overruns and project problems to a minimum.

A conservative proactive approach is required to assure the tax funds are spent properly, to maintain budgets, and not create a crisis by addressing problems and concerns once they crop up. This approach has allowed the township to maintain a stable tax rate and maintain a healthy fund balance.

Background and qualifications

Presently, I am a Township Committeeman, 1988-2023. I was deputy mayor for several years in the early 1990s. Former Class III member of the township Planning Board for many years and the township’s first recycling coordinator, 1986-1988.

Recognized in the New Jersey League of Municipalities Hall of Fame, 2012.

Presently, I am the liaison for the Township Committee to the Department of Public Works, Solid Waste and Recycling operations and currently chairman of the Board of Health.

I am a founding member of the Hampton Township Fire and Rescue Department, which started in 1999. Since its inception, I have held various offices, such as president, executive secretary and captain of the Fire Police. I am the executive secretary for 2023 and have been since 2005.

My experience in engineering and project management allows me to assist in planning for various township capital improvements through my Township Committee work, such as designing and assisting in the construction of the municipal salt shed and municipal complex emergency generator and to also assist the Fire Department in various capital improvement expansions over the past 23 years.

My wife and I are also owners of Mares Nest Farm in the Augusta section of the township. It is a breeding and training farm for driving horses, draft horses and ponies.

Michael Rathbun

My name is Michael Rathbun, and I am running for one of two seats on the Hampton Township Committee. I am a former councilman of Franklin Borough and a proud father of our blended family and lucky husband to my wife, Teri.

I have earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree from Berkeley College and took some courses toward my Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University.

I have worked in a government/public relations career for over 20 years, with many of them as an operations manager.

I learned so much about how a town works and local politics while serving on the Franklin Borough Council. I was on several committees and served as liaison to the Recreation Commission, Police Department, Fire Department and the First Aid Squad. I served as chairman of the Public Works Committee, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, a member of the Ordinance Committee and a member of the Economical Development Committee.

Before joining the council, I sat on the Recreation Commission for five years and was chairman for two of those years. I also was president of the Wallkill Valley Girls Softball League for two years and coached in that league for six years in addition to coaching the past few years for Kittatinny girls softball.

I am running for the Hampton Township Committee because I feel the town needs some new ideas and some fresh eyes from an experienced person. I feel that with my background I could be an asset to the town.

Three areas that I would like to concentrate on are taxes, community and economical growth for the township.

During my term on the Franklin Borough Council, we were able to lower the municipal tax line, which lowered the overall tax rate by 2 percent. The following year, we again lowered taxes by another 1 percent and the third year kept the rate the same, all without losing any services to the residents.

This was accomplished by taking a hard look at the budget and trimming off the fat in addition to working with the supervisors in the town on the way things were being managed.

Regarding community, it is my understanding that we are having a hard time retaining our volunteers. Volunteers are what make our communities special and work. Without those volunteers, we cannot put on events for the residents which could and will affect property values.

No one wants to move to a town that does not hold anything for the children or seniors of the town. The more volunteers we can attract to come together and put on more events for the community, the more valuable we make our community.

Regarding economic growth, one way to help sustain our taxes is through ratables. Our mission should be to be as business-friendly as possible.

We need incentives to help fill all our abandoned buildings. Let’s not build new ones but use what buildings we already have and make it as easy as we can for businesses to fit those buildings to their needs.

We should offer incentives to those who wish to utilize those buildings.

I ask that on June 6 that the Hampton Township residents vote for Michael Rathbun. If anyone has any questions or concerns, they can email me at mikerathbuncommitteeman@yahoo.com

Philip Yetter

Why are you running for office?

I am running for the Township Committee to continue to offer my experience and vast knowledge of municipal government operations to the taxpayers of Hampton Township.

I have been a farmer and a resident of Hampton Township all my life. It is because of my profession that I believe I can connect with the taxpayers of Hampton Township.

Over the years, there have been many changes to our township’s landscape. We have gone from a small and very rural township to a municipality that boasts a mix of commercial, farmland, residential homes and recreational properties. The land and government are part of my life and I want to continue my work as a committeeman.

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

1. Throughout my years of service with the township, I have been a member of the Planning Board and my experience with our local ordinances is extremely valuable. Local economic development has been greatly affected by the nation’s overall economy. Once consumer confidence approaches pre-recession levels and commercial developers believe the cost associated with development will yield favorable returns on their investments, Hampton Township will ultimately realize a resurgence of commercial interest along its corridor.

2. I will continue to work with the township to upgrade municipal roads without bonding or incurring additional debt. I have signed many successful applications for government grants that we have received to help facilitate this goal, but most of this can be achieved by proper planning. My colleagues and I have developed a Road Capital Improvement Plan that has guided the success of these road projects to date.

3. I am a conservative who believes in pay as you go. We are a municipality that can boast zero debt, which is no small achievement, and we have received statewide recognition for this accomplishment. I want to continue to maintain a zero debt status and policy as we move forward with the improvements to our infrastructure and community programs already being funded, such as improvements to roads, maintenance of our recreation park, supporting our youth and senior programs, and the necessary technological upgrades as we grow our economy.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

It would be impossible to attribute the township’s accomplishments to one individual. The members of the Township Committee work as a cohesive group in order to manage the township’s business.

I maintain a relationship with the Township Committee that supports these goals and helps to maintain a workable and well-managed township. I like to think that I possess that hometown feel in our community, but I am only one person in a great group of people who all work together to preserve the integrity of Hampton Township.

Background and qualifications

I am a life member of the Hampton Township Fire and Rescue, which was founded in 1999, when I was mayor. At that time, it was the first newly incorporated Fire Department in the state in more than 20 years.

It became a “barn raising” project spearheaded by the Township Committee, local firefighters, government officials and a community of dedicated individuals who assisted in its inception.

I am proud to be a part of that very successful project and also being able to secure a $500,000 grant to build a firehouse and purchase equipment without incurring any debt to our taxpayers.

Throughout my tenure, I served on the township’s Open Space Committee while more than 6,000 acres of land have been preserved. My relationships with many large land owners helped to preserve these properties to the benefit of both the land owners and the township.

I believe the balance of residential, commercial, recreational and open space is essential in supporting the low taxes that we have maintained for our municipality while preserving the rural nature of the beautiful township that I call home.