The three Republican incumbents running for re-election want to keep spending and debt at the county level to a minimum.
Edward O’Connell, Michael Marotta, and Deborah Ciambrone are battling to keep their seats and wrestle majority control of the freeholder board away from the Democratic Party.
The candidates discussed their positions on county issues at a candidates forum in Wayne Tuesday night. The Wayne League of Women Voters sponsored the forum.
The incumbent Republicans touted their alleged record of being fiscally conservative and mindful of how they spend taxpayer dollars.
“We have proven to be fiscally responsible,” said Deborah Ciambrone, a Wayne resident.
Fellow incumbent Michael Marotta said that he originally ran in 2009 to curb “rampant, unchecked spending.” He said the Democrats have, and will continue to, spend money freely.
“The Democrats have taken luxuries, luxuries that we are paying for,” said Marotta, who works for the Passaic Valley Water Commission. “The Democrats will freely spend with reckless abandon. I do not believe we can afford this.”
The Democrats said that the incumbents’ record when it comes to taxes should be thoroughly examined. They cited the county surrogate receiving a 9 percent raise shortly after taking office as an example of wasteful spending.
Republican Edward O’Connell said that his party has worked to reduce taxes and suggested cuts to the day-to-day operations of the county and bonding money to pay for those expenses.
“That’s like buying a loaf of bread with a credit card and not paying the bill for 30 years,” O’Connell said.
John Barlett, a Democrat and Wayne resident, said that taxes are “a huge part of my budget.
“We need to look at the records of these incumbents, Bartlett said. “They talk a good game but they’ve done nothing. Look at their record.”
All the candidates agreed that bonding for certain things like improvement and repair projects for facilities, is permissible, but not for other things, like daily operating expenses or pensions.
Democrat Ronda Casson Cotroneo said that officials must ask why they need to bond for a project before approving one.
Preakness Healthcare Center
All the candidates said they are in favor of the county continuing to run the Preakness Healthcare Center. O’Connell criticized the millions that been spent to upgrade the senior care facility.
Marotta said more assistance is needed from the federal government to alleviate flooding in Wayne.
“The legislators should be taking care of it,” Marotta said. “I believe the federal government should step in and allocate more money to help alleviate the problem.”
Democrat Hector Lora, a Passaic councilman said that buying out the homes in flood-prone areas of town is not the final answer to the problem.
“We should continue to look at every possible option we can,” Lora said.