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West Deptford Committee Candidates Face Off In Debate

The debate at West Deptford High School drew a large crowd of about 400 people.

West Deptford’s mounting debt weighed heavily Tuesday night in the debate between five candidates vying for two township committee seats.

Nearly every question posed to the candidates related to the township’s current $133 million debt.

And each candidate had an answer for plugging the gaping hole in the township’s budget.

They also agreed the time for excuses is over. 

"The state of New Jersey did not tell us to accumulate that much debt, nor is that debt exclusive to the high cost of living," said candidate Ray Chintall, who is running on the GOP slate with Sam Cianfarini. 

An unexpectedly large crowd of about 400 people packed the auditorium for the debate, which was moderated by John Barna, editor of the Gloucester County Times. West Deptford Patch Editor Bryan Littel and Gina Bittner, a reporter for the Times, served as panelists. 

About a quarter of the township's current debt is tied to , a sprawling public recreation complex, which each of the candidates agreed is an important part of the township's identity. 

"RiverWinds is a great complex," said Len Daws, a Democrat and the township's deputy mayor. "I don't have any regret proceeding with the project. What we've been really struggling with is the revenue side."

Chintall and Cinafarini have proposed creating a board of directors, that reports to the township, to oversee RiverWinds' operations. 

Democratic candidate Hunter Kintzing said RiverWinds is "a downtown for a township that otherwise does not have a downtown. It's something that distinguishes your home from a home in another municipality. We need to look beyond that community center we see when we drive down RiverWinds Drive" and find ways to attract commercial developers to build within the complex. 

Kintzing is running with Denice DiCarlo on the Democratic ticket. 

The five candidates are seeking two seats on the township committee. Daws is running to retain his seat, and the second seat is now held by Hugh Garrison, who is not seeking reelection. 

Democrats hold four of the five seats on the township committee. One additional seat will be up for grabs next year.

Earlier this year, Daws with local Democrats after the party endorsed Kintzing and DiCarlo instead of him. 

Cinafarini, who along with Chintall founded the watchdog website wdtruth.org, said a long reign of one-party rule has left township government lacking in transparency. 

"For more than 20 years, our township has not had a balanced, opposing point of view," he said. "Our elected officials, employees and vendors are made subservient to the party machine. Ladies and gentlemen, this is our community, we are the rightful owners of West Deptford. We need to take back this community and give it back to its rightful owners, and that is you."

The candidates said they each are following closely a filed by Sunoco, owner of the shuttered Eagle Point Refinery. (Coastal, the former owner of the refinery, has also filed a tax appeal on the property. In both cases, the companies are seeking tax reductions dating back to the late 1980s, according to Daws.)

The assessed value for the 978-acre Eagle Point complex, prior to a revaluation by Gloucester County, was $92,615,500, which produced a property tax bill of about $3.83 million in 2009. Sunoco also owns a number of vacant lots that buffer the refinery, which added up to another $85,971 in property taxes in 2009.

Daws said he expects the appeals to be resolved early next year and warned that the township could lose millions of dollars if the companies' appeals are successful. 

"It is the issue, ladies and gentlemen," he said. 

DiCarlo and Kintzing said the township needs to do more to speed the re-use or redevelopment of the riverfront property. 

Responding to a question from Littel about attracting business to the township, DiCarlo said West Deptford has about 2.3 million square feet of developable industrial space, and needs to come up with a specific plan to take advantage of that. 

Daws said he's hopeful that LS Power's to build a 620-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in the township will come to fruition next year, with the company potentially breaking group early in 2012. That power plant would bring $107 million in revenue as part of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program.

Another topic of concern among the candidates – and the public – was the bankrupt apartment complex at RiverWinds. 

When Barna read a question about Rivercove submitted by a member of the public, the audience groaned knowingly. 

Daws said he's opposes a to lift the over-55 age restriction at Rivercove because the complex is not set up to accommodate families with children. 

He also said that through receivership, the township will collect a combined $740,000 in payments in lieu of taxes by next year from Rivercove. 

Following the debate, Joan Ravenna, a township resident for 40 years, said she's unhappy with one-party rule.

"You need a breath of fresh air, and you need to know what's going on," she said of her reasons for attending the debate. 

Despite her political leanings, "I think all five of them represented themselves well" during the debate, Ravenna said. 

Bob Hunsberger, a 21-year township resident, said he took something important away from Tuesday night's event. 

"I'm much better informed than I was before the debate," he said.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the current political makeup of the township committee. 

J. Smith October 19, 2011 at 10:16 AM
I attended the debate last night and was really surprised at how well Kintzing and DiCarlo represented themselves. They did their homework and offered solid proposals regarding township budget issues. Chintall and Cianfarini were just two parrots that just kept saying the same thing over and over again. The Republican "20 Point Plan" is alot of bull****, just like the candidates themselves. Vote for the Democrats if you really want our towns problems solved.
Bill Bondar October 19, 2011 at 11:41 AM
After watching the debate I saw that the Democratic machine picked candidates were slick and well coached. The Republicans were just normal residents off the street not used to being in front of a large croud. But sombody has to take back our township government. At this point, a monkey could do it. We dont need more of the same that got us into the mess. I would like to see all five candidates on the township board. This way there would be more transpariency. The Republicans have our best interests in mind and could lead, The Democrats have a book worm who knows finance, the other is a real estate lawyer, ( I'm not sure if thats a good thing) and the Inedpendant has an ax to grind but knows where all the money the township stole from us is hidden.
WDNeedsHelp October 19, 2011 at 12:27 PM
ARE YOU SERIOUS !?!?!?! REALLY What debate did you attend? The Dems droned on and on with the economic development crap all night. NEWS FLASH, no businesses will come to WD with the current administration and their "bow to the party bosses" mentality. Let me see, you actually think a business with the threat of insanely high taxes coming down the road to pay for this debt will move here when the SAME clowns who put us here are still running the circus? Guess again. Lets look at the "Whos Who" that attended and supported the K&C crew: Mayor Docimo (resigning under pressure from the Democratic Party for allowing the West Deptford Debt "cat" out of the bag) Gerry White (Told Docimo to resign to protect the Dems running and to put another party pawn in her place, Rumor Jimmy Mehaffey) Former disgraced Mayor Dave Shields (Check the Fox report on him) Under Investigation Michael Angelini (Check the State investigation on him) Everyone on that list played a HUGE part in putting WD in debt, so please explain to me how the "wrecking crew" of K&D are nothing more than pawns to the current party bosses? The real solution is to vote out Daws, tell K&D "No Thanks" to their business as usual suggestions and vote in REAL CHANGE, Vote Ray Chintall and Sam Cianfarini
Admiral Stockdale October 19, 2011 at 01:12 PM
I endorse Ray Chintall. He stormed the beaches of Normandy, attacked Noriega in Panama, won the cold war with Reagan, freed the Egyptians alongside Moses, led 190 people, wrote a couple of tickets, drove around on a $450 million dollar highway, and is a leader. And did you know he was also a state cop.
John Hayden October 19, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Somebody with more knowledge of the law than I do needs to point me to the NJ statute that makes it illegal for municipalities to place a limit on tax and water bill increases. I know that we have some really bad laws in NJ, but the claim that limiting tax increases is illegal just doesn't pass the smell test. If someone can't cite the actual law, then we have to conclude that it does not exist and that the claims of the Democrats should be dried out and used to help keep the Field of Dreams green. In the article on patch.com a few months back, Mr. Kintzing said that beginning the FTZ application would be something that he and Mrs. DiCarlo "would look to tackle right after taking office". Last night, when Mr. Chintall asked why the two Democratic candidates did not bring this idea to the current Township Committee, Mrs. DiCarlo said that it was something that had to be handled at the Federal level, and that she was in touch with Rep. Andrews about getting the process started. I'm not sure how this works, but I would have to imagine that an FTZ application would have to be made by someone who has an actual stake in the property (i.e. the owners or the twp.); an assumption that would seem to be backed up by Mr. Kintzing's quote in the Patch article.
Samantha McCall October 19, 2011 at 05:13 PM
I have always been non-partisan, but after getting involved with this election, it really makes me sick at the way some people behave. Apparently, the two nasty responses are from democrats. I had never noticed how partisan democrats are and how nasty and childish they can be. The democrats that I have encountered in this township, and not all, are so closed minded and most have drinken the kool-aid provided by their local government and pay to play politics. I clearly have not heard a really good, or true to fact reason to put these puppets to Jerry White, Scott Kintzing, Steve Sweeney, and God knows how many others, in office is suicide to this community. People keep talking about how much their community means to them, the only thing I am seeing are self-serving reasons. These people, unfortunately, have their livlihoods threatended by the big party bosses, and that my friend, is not a true democracy! As for the homework, Ray and Sam have done their homework for the last 3 years, attending almost every township meeting and uncovering the dirty deals going on in this township. Some questions you might want to ask yourself. First, why did the democratic party throw Len Daws to the wolves after voting in line with them for the last 18 years, INCUMBENT, is a dirty word. Second, why did Anna Docimo suddenly decide to step down, just a little to convienent in timing. Third, why is Michael Angelini under investigation from the state?
Bryan Littel (Editor) October 19, 2011 at 05:53 PM
The alleged investigation you're probably referring to was the Inspector General's report from two years ago on his pension dealings. There's no current investigation into Angelini.
kathyc October 19, 2011 at 07:46 PM
My daughter and I went to the debate last night and both came away with the same impression: The Democrats outshone the Republican candidates by far. No matter what your party affiliation, it is in the best interest of the residents of West Deptford to have people in office who are the most intelligent and willing to put themselves out there, taking the time for this responsibility. While they certainly were not flashy Hunter K and Denise Di were able to convey their understanding of the issues and made their points in a concise manner. Both of us left very satisfied with our decision that we will be voting for the Democrats this year. I am hoping that there will be some tv broadcast of the debate as it really would be an eye opener for the people of the township to see the candidates the way we did last night.
John Bond October 19, 2011 at 11:31 PM
Admiral Stockdale, you are my hero.
John Pitchford October 20, 2011 at 03:12 AM
Good point. Will there be TV coverage of the debate?
Bryan Littel (Editor) October 20, 2011 at 03:15 AM
Both parties had video cameras running during the debate; whether it'll be televised is another question. When we can obtain it, we'll run the video in its entirety.
Anonymous October 20, 2011 at 03:31 AM
What scared me the most about last nights debate were two things: how frequently the Democrats used the words "I agree with Len" (the same man who has a clear voting record that led us to this fiscal crisis) and how well coached the Democrats (who HAVE NOT invested interest in WD politics until sought out by the Democratic party machine) appeared to be. The Democrats were able to use rhetoric and optimism to woo some supporters, but we need realism to get us out of this crisis. Political affiliation SHOULD NOT matter at the local level, but the local Democratic party has allocated much time and money to insure they obtain POWER in the surrounding areas. We desperately need individuals who have a proven record of dedicating themselves to the tax payers of WD and are willing to fight for US! As much as I respect the Democratic candidates, I do not trust the individuals donating to and managing their campaign. Chintall and Cianfrini have been toe-to-toe with our council for years and I am excited to see their work ethic and passion begin the transformation of West Deptford Township
Patrick Budd October 21, 2011 at 05:09 PM
I enjoyed the debate but I wish we could have asked the candidates direct questions. "Len, you have toileted this township, why should we give you another term?" "Denice, what is your background as a democrat? What made you decide to run THIS specific year?" "Hunter, do we really need ANOTHER attorney as a political representative?'
Samantha McCall October 21, 2011 at 05:31 PM
BTW Bryan, it is not an alleged investigation and it is not a closed investigation. The Office of the Inspector General’s report is complete as of December 15, 2009. Further action by other state agencies on the status of Angelini’s “novel and contrived (pension) arrangements” is active and / or pending. This statement was in the investigative report, the report was complete not closed.
Bryan Littel (Editor) October 21, 2011 at 05:52 PM
While that statement's there in the report, I've found no sign of a current investigation against him or any action by those other state agencies. If you have other proof that I don't know about, please, by all means, share it with me.
Another voice October 21, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Samantha, I, too, have been trying to find out what, if anything, is going to be done with the completed report. Will it go to the Attorney General's office for investigation? God, I hope so. Maybe the residents of WD need to make some noise about it.
Samantha McCall October 22, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Bryan, that investigation is alive and well in the New Jersey Comptroller's Office.
Patrick Mudd October 22, 2011 at 05:55 PM
I agree with Patrick, I would have loved to ask several questions also? "Sam, why did you think you needed to falsify your resume to win a local election?" "Sam & Ray, how do you really plan to change the constitution, you are running for a local committee seat not the United States Congress" "Ray, why did you apply for a county job if you don't agree with the way the county is run" "Ray, were you really a state trooper? oh sorry, you already said that 50 times." "Sam, why do you say "ladies and gentlemen" every other sentence?" "Sam and Ray, How can you attach the water/sewer bills to the CPI, isn't that also illegal" "Sam and Ray, do you plan on following any local government laws"
Samantha McCall October 22, 2011 at 10:32 PM
Partick Mudd get your head out of the sand or out of somewhere else?
Patrick Budd October 23, 2011 at 03:18 PM
clever, but yet immature. typical dem
I am you October 23, 2011 at 04:23 PM
These questions have nothing to do with the issues at hand.

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