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Incumbents Return to Borough Council

Hopatcong Republicans Richard Bunce and Marie Ryder Galante handily defeated Democratic challengers Mara Modes and John Pezzino on Tuesday.

With the Hopatcong Borough Council election behind him, newly re-elected Republican Richard Bunce said Wednesday it is time to move forward with plans the council has put in place.

Bunce and fellow GOP member Marie Ryder Galante were voted back to the dais Tuesday for a pair of three-year terms. The veteran council members easily  sidestepped challenges from Democrats Mara Modes and John Pezzino.

Bunce was the leading vote-getter on Election Day with 2,704 votes, according to unofficial results released by the Sussex County Clerk’s Office. Galante  received 2,664 votes, Pezzino, 2,052 votes and Modes, 1,956.

The election came weeks after the council approved a reassessment for all  borough properties and the Highlands Council approved the designation of Hopatcong as a town center. Meanwhile, the borough faces new 2013 budget challenges in light of a mandated 2 percent tax levy cap.

Bunce, 56, has served on the council since 2003. He owns his own construction business and has lived in Hopatcong for 21 years. He said he wants to continue to "get things done and move the borough forward.

"The voters seem to agree with us," he said. "We want to keep things moving in a positive direction.”

Bunce said a key project facing the borough is using the new town center designation from the Highlands Commission to attract development to the River Styx section of the lake waterfront.

That town center designation was a key step in developing a comprehensive development plan for the borough, Bunce said. The impact of the designation will have a positive impact on plans to develop the River Styx area of the borough’s lakefront, where developers have indicated an interest in building.

The reassessment was important because it will balance property values across the borough, Bunce said.

Galante, 43, is owner and operator of A Cut Above, a local hair salon. She has been on the council since 2007. She previously served on the council from 1997 to 1999 and has lived in the borough for 39 years.

Galante said the reassessment brought the borough’s tax assessments back into balance. That imbalance generated more than 300 tax appeals in the past two years, she said. The defense of the appeals raised the borough legal costs, which are part of the budget affected by the 2 percent levy cap.

"The borough’s budget was well below that cap limit last year, the first year the cap was in place,” Galante said. She said the council is approaching 2013 budget preparations expecting little additional state aid, but with the goal of maintaining a flat budget.

Rich Smith November 08, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Congratulations to Rich and Marie. Get the town over this terrible disaster left by the storm and then keep it going forward. Wishing the best for you and our town.
Michele Guttenberger November 09, 2012 at 05:15 PM
The large numbers of votes (43%) given to the opposition team which virtually had NO political funding from their party should be a wake up call to Bunce and Galante. They won but now they are dealing with a rising group of disgruntled citizens who are not happy with their past performance. These are the people who were willing to vote for unpopular candidates who did NOT hold any previous political office. Did NOT have the experience, were NOT known leaders to any community org, did NOT have campaign funding, public announcement, nor a public platform as they did, but managed to garner 43% of the votes on a prayer. This tells me a large percentage of Hopatcong is unhappy with its current gov. The above article is another smoke & mirror PR show that does not address the real problems of our town. Some business areas have DEP issues, we have water and sewer problems, we have budget reform issues that need real fixing. A reassessment will NOT solve it - There is NO money to redistribute. Stop providing town cars to admins, stop spending tax money for personal ed courses like public speaking, trips to AC & BIG Boss Salaries . Many folks who showed up to the HHS shelter looked poor & stretched to the limit. But our local gov still wants the needy taxpayer to fund town cars, frivolous ed courses, outdoor decor and AC Conventions with this new assessed tax rate. NO cuts to these perks. It looks like their next 3 year show is destined to be hit with rotten tomatoes.
John Pezzino November 09, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Congratulations to Richard and Marie, I want to wish you all the best for your upcomming term, Its truely an exciting time to be a member of the council, and to work with such a great mayor. God Bless You.
Peter James November 10, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Amen Michele, they just don't get it. So on we go with more of the same failed policies from Mayor on down.
S. Coventry November 12, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Double Amen Michele, hope you and your two running mates run again !

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