On Nov. 8, residents will have the opportunity to go to the polls to vote for four members of Gloucester Township Council. Gloucester Township Patch will share information and some of the thoughts of the nine candidates seeking four Council seats throughout the week of Oct. 9.
Name: Linda Musser
Political Party: Republican
Years of residency in Gloucester Twp.: 25
Job: Real Estate Agent, Century 21 Alliance, Cherry Hill (2002-Present)
For the Burlington-Camden County Association of Realtors, I have served as Director (2005-2009), Legislative Issues Committee Chair (2008-2010) and Realtors Political Action Committee Chair (2005-2007). I am currently a member of our Legislative Issues and RPAC committees. For the New Jersey Association of Realtors, I serve as an IMPAC (Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee) Trustee; on both the Legal Affairs and Political Affairs Committees; and as Realtor representative on the Camden County Open Space Advisory Preservation Committee. I was appointed to the Real Estate Commission Continuing Education Voluntary Advisory Committee (June 2010), and I have served on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Land Use, Property Rights and Environmental Committee since 2009.
Education: Sterling High School, Somerdale, NJ, Class of 1972
Camden County College - Various business courses
Professional/Industry Certifications: ABR - Accrediated Buyer Representative; SFR - Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource Certified Relocation Agent; CNRF - Cartus Network Referral Specialist; CNMS - Cartus Network Marketing Specialist; CNIS - Cartus Network Inventory Specialist; CNAS - Cartus Network Affinity Specialist
Family: Married to Dale Musser (26 years). We have one son, who is married and expecting his first child.
Why are you running for Gloucester Township Council?
As a longtime resident of Gloucester Township, I have been actively involved in the community for many years. I want to continue to be an advocate of the people. A community as diverse as Gloucester Township needs to have representation on Council that will listen to the needs of ALL residents. I am concerned about the rising level of taxation on the Township residents along with the declining township services to the people. Many residents have chosen to leave the township. My choice is to make a stand to reduce taxes on the public, provide a business friendly environment for small business and make Gloucester Township the place to raise a family.
Have you ever held public office?
Yes. I am elected to the Camden County Republican Municipal Committee. Appointed to the Gloucester Township Zoning Board and Planning Board.
Why do you feel you are qualified to serve as a member of the Gloucester Township Council?
I currently am serving on the Gloucester Township Planning Board, where as a member we are looking at the long-term development of our community with the goal of ensuring that our township maintains a high standard as a place where people want to work and live. I have been on the Planning Board since 2007. Previously, I served on the Gloucester Township Zoning Board, from 1996-2000. During that period I served as a member, vice chair, and chairwoman. The purpose for the Zoning Board was to review and approve individual and business applications to ensure that established business and personal zoning use were maintained. As a Real Estate Agent since 1978, I've had a successful business career through hard work and a concern for the needs of my clients and treating them as people who need professional help and not just another transaction. Folks who serve in this business require repeat business and referrals from previous clients. The only way to survive in the real estate business is to put the needs of clients ahead of your own. As a Realtor, I am a good negotiator and tireless worker. In 2009, I was awarded the Burlington-Camden County Association of Realtors' "Realtor of the Year" for my service to my clients and community.
What is the biggest issue facing Gloucester Township as we approach the end of 2011? How do you feel the issue should be addressed by Council?
I believe that one of the biggest issues in our local government is the lack of transparency. As a taxpayer and a concerned citizen, I have made a point of attending Gloucester Twp. Council meetings for 12+ years. We live in an information age. Yet it is very difficult to get information and answers about issues coming before Council for consideration. During the public portions of the Council meetings, residents are given a limited opportunity to ask questions and receive answers or clarifications on specific issues. In general, the responses from our elected leaders lack substance and timeliness. By the time residents are provided information, our government has moved forward without listening to the will of the residents. I feel this issue could be addressed very simply. We have been asking for years to have the council meetings televised. This would be a benefit to all residents, as it would give them an opportunity to see how their government works, how our money is being spent, and create an opportunity for more people to get involved. We have cameras at various sports complexes, we have cameras at parks, we have RED LIGHT cameras throughout the township—your government can watch you, but YOU cannot watch them. Let's move forward on resolving this issue now as it has a broader impact on all of the issues of concern in our Township. Give the people the information they deserve so that decisions will not continue to be made in a vacuum by our elected officials.
What do you feel is Gloucester Township's biggest asset at this time? How would you exploit that asset to the township's benefit?
I believe that Gloucester Township's biggest asset is it the diversity of its people. GT consists of people from many small communities such as Glendora, Blenheim, Blackwood, Erial and Laurel Springs. Each of these communities has it special needs and provide contributions that makes our township unique. Although the diversity of our people is our greatest asset, it also presents a significant challenge to the administration of our local government. We need to make a greater effort to coordinate with individual civic associations, area business leaders and community leaders to focus on improvements that will benefit the entire township. There is a genuine concern in the Township with the loss of jobs, businesses closing, the fear of one losing their home. We need to be more open and promote GT as a business-friendly community. Council can and should reach out to business owners, local civic associations and community leaders to determine how they and the township could coordinate activities for the common good.
How do you plan to balance spending and revenue during tough economic times?
We need to run our local government like we run our individual households. We establish a budget. We know how much money is coming in, and how much money will be expended. We need to review and make sure that the people's money is being spent in a fiscally responsible manner. We need to aggressively pursue businesses and provide incentives so they will want to make Gloucester Township their home. We have many abandoned buildings and business complexes; we need to make sure that Gloucester Township is known for being "Business Friendly" and "Open for YOUR business." Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. If we create jobs, then property values can return to pre-recession levels. We need to look at individual items in the budget and see where we can eliminate duplication and waste. Where there is a benefit to Gloucester Township, I support the concept of shared services with the county and other communities (with the exception of a countywide police force—I am opposed to that).
Do you feel the current Council is effective? Why or why not? Where do you think the governing body could improve?
There is a disconnect between the residents and the Council Members. An elected official should be held to a higher standard. There should be some decorum followed at meetings. Council members need to treat each other respectfully, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with a topic being discussed. There are some people who feel intimidated to get up and ask questions of Council, for fear of being berated. As a taxpayer, we not only have the right to attend meetings and ask questions of our elected officials, but we also have the responsibility to do so. Running for Council has been an enlightening experience. Going door to door and meeting people, it is amazing that a number of people in the community do not know the names of their elected officials. Some residents feel their needs are being ignored. When a question is asked of our Council as to where they stand on an issue, they need to stand up and be counted. This Council's failure to take a firm position on the countywide police force demonstrates a lack of leadership. We are clear on this and we oppose this plan. Also, their failure to impose a strong pay-to-play policy shows a business-as-usual policy towards political contributions.
Editor's Notes: This is the sixth of nine profiles on candidates for Gloucester Township Council. Glen Bianchini's profile and Samuel Garro's profile ran Monday, Darren Gladden's profile and Theodore Liddell's profile on Tuesday, and Orlando Mercado's profile this morning. The following is the schedule of publication for the remaining three candidates: Democrat candidates Sam Siler (6 a.m.) and Tracey Trotto (noon) on Thursday; and Republican candidate Erica Weissmann (6 a.m.) on Friday.
Aside from minor formatting changes, the responses each candidate provided to the above questions appear here unaltered.