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Get to Know Your Candidates for Newtown Supervisors: Part 4

Get to know the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors candidates competing for your vote on Nov. 5.

Editor's note: This is the last of a four-part series leading up to the election on Nov. 5. 

Two seats on the five-member Newtown Township Board of Supervisors are up for election on Nov. 5. Incumbent Mike Gallagher and Kyle Davis are running on the Republican ticket; Jen Dix and Judy Norkin are running as Democrats.

To help you get to know the candidates we’ve asked them a series of questions about local issues and, leading up to the election, will publish their answers. (Answers have not been edited and appear as submitted by the candidates.)

This week’s question for the candidates is: 

What do you see as the top three challenges facing Newtown and what would you do to solve them?

Mike Gallagher, Republican (incumbent)

Bio: Gallagher is a small businessman and software engineer with an undergraduate degree from DeSales University.  He is currently chairman of the Newtown Board of Supervisors. He has served on the board since 2008.

Answer: The number one issue facing all levels of government is providing quality services while still protecting taxpayers.  We have worked hard to reduce expenses, eliminate excessive administrative costs, and make government do more with less so we could reduce taxes and protect homeowners from higher taxes.  We will continue to do that by going through expenses carefully, reviewing the budget line-by-line, introducing new cost-saving technologies, and challenging our employees to do their jobs as efficiently as possible.

Economic growth and job creation is vital to our residents and the strength of Newtown. As our community begins to redevelop existing properties (like the Stockburger Chrysler land, the old ACME building, and the Newtown Swim Club property) we must manage that reuse carefully to preserve our existing quality of life while helping businesses create the jobs our neighbors need.  

Vacant parcels of land that aren’t already protected are few and far between now, and we will see more and more proposals for the tear down and reuse of property.  That’s one of the reasons we recently completed a study of Sycamore Street and implemented changes to zoning in that area to manage the redevelopment.  

Another issue that Newtown Township will need to deal with in the coming years is the rising costs of benefits—a challenge faced by governments and school districts across the state.

Fortunately we saw rising healthcare and other costs coming and have worked with our employees to find reasonable solutions that protect taxpayers and our employees.  

That’s why today, we have the only police union in Bucks County that pays a percentage of their medical benefits and we are the first municipality in Bucks to move employees to a defined contribution plan. We are fortunate to have employees that prove outstanding service to our residents and who have been great in working with us as we continue to address this issue. 

Kyle Davis, Republican 

Bio:
 Davis is a software engineer who currently serves on the township Technology Committee. He is the vice chairman of Greater Newtown Republican Club. Davis is a Council Rock graduate and former Army reservist. 

Answer
: Squeezing every penny of value from every tax dollar must be the top priority of all governments today, and it will be my top priority as Supervisor. Quite simply, taxpayers have no more to give and it is the job of elected officials to try and make sure they don't have to.  

Our current Board has shown that you can successfully deliver quality services at an affordable cost.  As Supervisor, I will continue those efforts by bringing a new eye to every line of our budget to look for efficiencies or savings to protect your money. How can you trust I will do this?  Because as Chairman of the Township's Technology Committee, I have already helped save tax dollars and continue to provide cost-saving recommendations to our government.  

Hand in hand with the need to protect tax dollars is the desire to help residents have an opportunity to secure good-paying jobs close to home…and that means local economic growth.  That would be my second priority.

Here in Newtown, the current Board has successfully led an effort to redevelop abandoned or blighted properties; all of us can agree it is great to see the ACME building destroyed and new growth happening in other areas of the Township.  As Supervisor, I will join this effort and work to establish a Business Advisory Group made up of local business owners to further refine and improve our Township's regulations, forms, processes and more to make them more attractive to possible new employers with the goal of filling every vacant retail and commercial space in our community…and the chance for local residents to fill the jobs that would bring to Newtown.

A third issue I would focus on—and one that is related to the base functions of government as well economic development—is infrastructure, particularly our 80-plus miles of roadways.  With the federal and state government providing less support for infrastructure, it is imperative that we, as a local government, develop a long-term strategy for maintaining our roads and bridges.  This plan would include an analysis of current conditions, prioritization of critical, mid- and long-term needs, estimated costs and – finally – a strategic economic plan to address those needs and meet those costs.

Jen Dix, Democrat

Bio: Dix, a 20-year resident of Newtown Township, is a consulting actuary in the health insurance industry who served on the Township’s Financial Planning Committee in 2006-2007.  She is married with two children and serves as the treasurer of a large local church. She has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Messiah College.

Answer: Newtown is a great community but there is plenty room for improvement in how local government services its residents. The top three challenges facing our town are:

1) Lack of sensible leadership with integrity and character

2) Lack of true fiscal responsibility

3) Lack of vision for our community that ensures smart development and respects the unique heritage of Newtown.

Judy Norkin and I have been effective community leaders by putting Newtown first, not personal ambition. To us, character matters. Honesty, bipartisanship and common sense will guide our decision making. We will ensure our local government serves the needs of residents better by improving communication techniques and providing more user-friendly alternatives to gather feedback rather than forcing residents to come to Supervisor meetings to express their concerns.

True fiscal responsibility is something we will make a priority because weak financials cost taxpayers and cause us to miss opportunities. Our goal is to ensure a high quality of life while keeping taxes as low as possible. Financial mismanagement has hurt our community and resulted in a downgraded bond rating, unusable athletic fields, inability to maintain our roads, unnecessary lawsuits, and the sale of assets to cover basic expenses. We have the skills to put our financial house in order and be judicious stewards of our resources. We will also ensure that financial information will be easily accessible to the public in a timely manner.

Judy and I believe in preserving Newtown’s history while also preparing for the future. We’ll seek a reasonable and balanced approach to growth including reviewing and defending zoning, promoting economic vitality, and addressing open space and traffic issues. We feel strongly that future development should strengthen our community and enhance our quality of life. Situations like the recent debacle with swim club property, where high density housing was given away with no benefit in return, won’t happen under our watch. 

Judy and I will provide a fresh perspective and bring diversity to the Board of Supervisors. We are long-time residents, business professionals, and moms who love Newtown. We feel Township government should be more open and honest. We will work solely for the best interests of residents and businesses to improve our community. We see it as an honor and privilege to serve as your Supervisors and ask for your support on November 5.

Judy Norkin, Democrat

Bio: Norkin is a 16-year resident of Newtown Township and lives in Cliveden Estates with her husband and two children.  She is a former member of the Newtown Township Traffic Committee. Norkin has been a board member of the Cliveden Homeowners’ Association for more than 10 years. She works as a freelance writer and editor and is studying for her masters in Community and Regional Planning at Temple University. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from New York University.

Answer: The Patch has already asked candidates to discuss three important issues facing our community: sewer capacity, budget shortfalls, and a swimming or recreational facility. These are obviously big challenges for Newtown Township but there are other challenges as well. We need to restore confidence in our leadership, elect leaders who can articulate a compelling vision for Newtown's future, and establish truly open and honest government. What can you expect from Jen and I?

-Although our opponents tout themselves as “tech-savvy,” nothing has been done to improve our internet communications for years. This is not how to encourage interaction with residents or increase public participation. Jen and I will update and modernize our Township website so it functions as well as others around the nation.

-We will be accessible. To invite greater participation we will schedule small forums around town at convenient times. We hope you will come and talk to us. We welcome and respect varied perspectives and opinions and will always appreciate when you’ve taken the time to see us. 

-We will be listening. We will answer your questions and if we don't have answers readily available we'll do our homework and get back to you in a reasonable time frame.

-Whenever possible we'll be ahead of issues by paying attention to what is really going on and working to solve our Township's problems before they erupt and result in late actions and bad decisions.

To conclude, Jen and I won't just be pretend leaders. We will be the real deal. Rather than being concerned with what political parties in Doylestown or Harrisburg want, our only purpose will be to work for the best interests of Newtown Township and for YOU.

Jen and I are both qualified professionals and long-term residents who love this town. We have a track record of service to Newtown Township and have actively worked for years as volunteers on issues like land development, transportation, and finances. We believe change will come to this Township only when we change the people empowered to make decisions on our behalf. It would be an honor and a privilege to be your Supervisors and I hope you will support us both on November 5th. 

Related:

the VOICE October 26, 2013 at 04:21 AM
Jen and Judy it is not too late for you to drop out of the race and avoid More Embarasment.
jay sensibaugh October 27, 2013 at 10:11 AM
John, I look forward to your continued comments both as the Voice and at the podium extolling the virtues of Newtown Grant. It is an important neighborhood that brings value to the community, just as all the community associations bring value to their neighborhoods. As a past president of Newtown Crossing I know the residents of each neighborhood work hard to help keep their part of the community great!!! It is through the leadership of Jen and Judy that will allow their influence to affect the policies and direction of the community at large.
the VOICE November 01, 2013 at 06:22 PM
JOHN, WHO ? All you demo-Rats need to wake up before you speak !
Me November 02, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Party affiliation is not important. How about you vote for someone that doesn't bend over backwards for land developers that don't want to follow the rules or someone that doesn't threaten the police for arresting drunk drivers. "Our law and order, anti-DUI District Attorney has not commented on the case. I understand why Mike Gallagher wishes to remain on the [board]. To resign under the cloud of a DUI offense would end his political career. The only chance his future political career has is to stay in office and hope an apathetic and ill-informed electorate will forget his transgressions (maybe he can claim he sought therapy with Tiger Woods). What I find harder to understand is why Gallagher is being supported in this charade by Ciervo, who to my understanding is seeking a higher political office." http://www.buckslocalnews.com/articles/2010/03/31/opinion/doc4bb381609e180419411748.txt
R U guessing ? November 03, 2013 at 07:51 AM
Hey Me or Phil ! Stop bringing up old news, or do you want us to bring up you and Jen asking to raise taxes ! VOTE FOR KYLE AND MIKE !
R U guessing ? November 03, 2013 at 07:52 AM
Forget the Punch and judy show, they never did anything but make mistakes !
Me November 03, 2013 at 11:52 AM
@2013 it was during his time as chairman and only a few years ago. I hope Mike is still clean and sober but abusing your power is a violation of trust but if you can explain to me how he has earned that trust back Im listening. You don't know who I am and I don't care what you bring up
Me November 03, 2013 at 11:53 AM
Has Judy ever got a DUI or abused her public position?
R U guessing ? November 03, 2013 at 12:25 PM
How could Jen or Judy abuse Power, they never had any; and hopefully never will !
Me November 03, 2013 at 12:30 PM
So your okay with Mike Gallagher driving with .17 alcohol level while he was serving as chairman then threatening the arresting officer's job for daring to arrest a supervisor? How has Mike earned back your trust?
R U guessing ? November 03, 2013 at 12:43 PM
@ Me, No where in the official police report does it say that the officer felt threatend ! Of course the Demo-Rat Rag; The courier post did make it sound like that. If you know Mike, you chalk it up to Being Young and Irish. REMEMBER: no one got hurt ! Did You ever drive after Drinking, then You are almost as Guilty. But listing to your Rants, Drugs seem to be your choice. Therfore you are worse !
Me November 03, 2013 at 12:55 PM
@2013 so why did mike apologize to the Newtown police? Why do you think everyone either drinks or does drugs? It says a lot more about you then me. Are you originally from Kensington or something? Mike is lucky no one got hurt. "According to the criminal complaint filed by Joseph, while Gallagher was being transported to St. Mary Medical Center in Middletown for blood work, he asked what the police officer's (Joseph's) name was and if he knew who he was. Gallagher then asked the officer if he knew he was the chairman of the Newtown Board of Supervisors, how he "liked working in Newtown" and if the officer liked his schedule and shift, according to the report. Gallagher further asked when the officer was going to take the sergeant's exam and if he had any "desire to be promoted," the report reads. The officer said he was not eligible." http://www.buckslocalnews.com/articles/2010/06/07/the_advance/news/doc4c07f3a4766c1148490932.txt?viewmode=fullstory
R U guessing ? November 03, 2013 at 01:05 PM
@me; Why do i bother with you, I guess I feel sorry for you because you are not educated. Nowhere in the police report does it say " Threaten" or that kind of Tone. If you and the demo-rats Missinterpete the meaning of the word Ask or asked, then you are just looking to cause trouble. And what's wrong with Kennsington, If A person grew up there and moved to Newtown, they must of something right. We all can't be Suburban brats.
Me November 03, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Im just saying that your belief that people either drink or use drugs is the mentality of addicts walking the streets in Kensington and not the mentality I would expect in Newtown. It implies that you surround yourself with drunks and addicts because you think everyone is one or the other. You are trying to slander me with no evidence yet its a fact that Gallagher got a DUI and said these things to the officer which could be interpreted as a threat. You claim my pointing out these facts are worse then Gallagher's words and actions, how so? Mike apologized twice to the Newtown police for a reason. I think you feeling sorry for me and my education have nothing to do with you being upset your idol is a drunk that tried to influence the arresting officer. Mike is buddies with the DA, Heckler, he said that if Mike acted on those words he would face criminal charges but because he didn't act on them, he wont. It doesn't change what he said and that at least for a moment he thought his position could influence the arresting officer. Being drunk is not an excuse to try to abuse your power. The entire incident shows he cannot be trusted. Ive asked you how Mike gained back your trust but you wont answer.
Me November 03, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Some facts to educate yourself with... "I was not involved," Heckler reiterated. The officer was sufficiently robust to ignore Mr. Gallagher and made the arrest." Heckler said, however, his office would have been involved had there been any actions by Gallagher following the arrest or "if he was attempting to get some revenge after the fact." If the arresting officer's "shift changed or something else, certainly we would be involved," the district attorney said. Heckler admitted Gallagher supported his campaign for district attorney. But he noted that that if a district attorney shows a conflict of interest, the attorney general can be requested to take jurisdiction. "My understanding from the press accounts I've seen is Mr. Gallagher intends to plead guilty," said Heckler. http://www.buckslocalnews.com/articles/2010/04/20/the_advance/doc4bcdba9a3b3ad872279501.txt?viewmode=fullstory

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