Local Government

Meet The 2017 Bellmawr Democratic Council Candidates

In advance of the June 6, 2017 primary, SJO submitted a list of questions to the three Democratic candidates who are running for two of the seats on Bellmawr Council. Those candidates are incumbents, Paul Sandrock and Jim D’Angelo along with newcomer, Paul DeAngelis.

In advance of the June 6, 2017 primary, SJO submitted a list of questions to each of the three Democratic candidates who are running for two open seats on Bellmawr Council.

Here’s what they had to say:

Councilman Paul Sandrock

Please introduce yourself and tell the voters of Bellmawr a little about yourself.

I am resident of Bellmawr for nearly 60 years, proudly raising two children who reside in the Borough today.  And, one of which is also raising my grandchildren in town. So, I have a vested interest in the success of Bellmawr’s future, and not just for my family, but all families in town.

I am a huge proponent of volunteerism and community service. I have been a volunteer with the Bellmawr Fire Department for over 40 years, currently serving as President. In addition, I coached Bellmawr Girls Softball from 1989 to 1998, and served as League President from 1994 to 1998.

Paul Sandrock
Photo provided

Why are you running for a seat on Bellmawr Council?

I am running for a seat on Council because I believe there needs to be a strong voice for the taxpayers in town – someone who is not from “old school” just go-with-the-flow politics.

I am someone who asks questions, seeks enhancements to certain practices or processes, and challenges the status quo. And, I believe, that’s what hard working tax-paying residents want, as well.

Why should Bellmawr voters vote for you?

I am hoping to gain the support of the voters because I am THE Democrat candidate for CHANGE and in our current climate – Bellmawr needs change!

As I previously stated, I’m not part of that “old school” group of politicians. I bring a different set of ideals to the table and I do not fear change –  I embrace it! The Borough can’t continue to be stagnant. We need to evolve and the only way that will occur is when the established leadership changes.

What plans or ideas do you have for making Bellmawr better and how do you plan to accomplish that?

Let me first state that I am proud of Bellmawr. We are a great little town and the ideals I offer will look to enhance the existing efforts of our dedicated and hard-working employees.

First and foremost, we MUST be fiscally responsible. We need to make Bellmawr affordable for everyone, especially our senior citizens, and this can be achieved by responsible budget management and planning leading to zero tax increases.

Secondly, home values in town have soured over the last few years, and this needs to be addressed proactively. The Borough needs to be forthright in enforcing property maintenance codes and go after the banks not allowing them to let abandoned properties sit.

Lastly, as a municipality and community, we need to continue our strong support of our public safety personnel including our police, volunteer fire department, and EMS. We need to ensure they have the equipment they need and develop programs to encourage more volunteers in volunteer fire service. If public safety personnel are well- staffed and adequately equipped, we are a safe community and that is something that should never be compromised.

What can be done about lowering property taxes?

First, residents need to understand that their property tax bill is comprised of many entities other than the Borough, such as the local school board, Camden County, Black Horse Regional School Board, etc.

The Borough needs to be a strong voice working with these entities advocating on behalf of our residents.  But, the Borough also needs to put their money where its mouth is and that’s why there will be a zero increase in 2017 for the borough taxes. We need to continue moving forward with focused budget management, increased shared services, and more grant/local aid acquisitions.

What can be done about attracting more businesses to Bellmawr?

The Borough has done very well in this regard over the last few years. The Business Park is nearly full and there have been several businesses that recently opened such as the Super Wawa, Aldi, Amoroso Bakery re-location, Singer, and the upcoming openings of Royal Farms and Dollar Tree. However, we can ALWAYS do more and the Borough needs to work with the County and State to better utilize economic development programs within our community.

One of the greatest concerns and questions that Bellmawr residents have is about the “dirt pile”/ “the dump”/ Bellmawr Waterfront Development. How do you plan to keep the citizens informed about the status of the work that is going on there?

There does need to be an increased dialogue and some community outreach on this project because it really is one of a success. The NJ-DEP points to this project as a “Brownsfield Development project done right.”  For starters, the main intention from the beginning was to remedy that area environmentally and that is nearly completed.

Commercial development was always viewed as a bonus. The Borough needs to work with the re-developer to provide more information to our residents by keeping them closely up to date with what’s happening.

Transparency in government is something I truly embrace. We can dedicate a page on our website with updates and also use the Borough’s communication channels to track our progress. We can include an update at the Council Meetings and sponsor a dedicated Town Hall event.

What kind of progress is the Borough making with regard to the foreclosed/abandoned homes, unkempt properties?

There has been a lot of progress recently on this front. And, speaking of transparency, the Borough has been publicizing its efforts on its website and Facebook page. This is an area where the Borough has been very aggressive targeting these properties with clean-ups, board-ups, towing of abandoned vehicles, razing of structures that have been deemed unsafe, and then having the incurred costs liened against the property.

Banks, landlords and uncaring residents need to understand their responsibility to their fellow tax-paying neighbors and the negative effect it has on our property values. The Borough will not stand for abandoned houses in our community.

What do you envision for Bellmawr in the next five years? 

I’d like to continue the advancements we’ve made in fiscal responsibility pertaining specifically to responsible budget management and minimal to zero tax increases. We proved this year it can be done with net zero increase in municipal taxes. I’d like to see a steady increase in our property values for our homeowners.

We need to continue our aggressive stance on property maintenance and targeting abandoned homes while seeking other opportunities to increase values. The Borough has made significant steps in the last two years sophisticating our use of technology and improved business processes.  I will continue to advocate this endeavor as it streamlines government and increases the level of service to the residents.

Lastly, volunteerism is down nationally, as well as here in the Borough, with respect to the fire service, youth sports, and civic organizations. This needs to change! We are a community and we need to come together and support these groups to enhance our neighborhood.  I would like to work with these organizations to explore avenues that will foster increased volunteerism.

Final remarks:

Last year at a Council Meeting, I suggested term limits for governing officials in the Borough, as a measure to prevent entrenchment and stagnation.  Obviously, it was not received very well and the Bellmawr Democrat Club did not support my decision to run for Council earlier this year. I have been an active Democrat for over 40 years.

I am running outside of the Democrat Club to allow the residents of Bellmawr to decide who they think is best for the borough and our town.  I am THE Democrat for CHANGE and I need your support on June 6th.  I am running for Borough Council because Bellmawr needs and deserves an effective advocate for CHANGE – a fellow taxpayer who puts the residents first.

We need a voice who fights for the taxpayers and their hard- earned tax dollars, and who understands the issues that matter most to our families.

Bellmawr has been the only town I’ve ever called home and has provided a beautiful place to raise my family. As I said, my children are grown and are now raising their families in the Borough. My mission is to make Bellmawr affordable for all our children and the generations to come.

Please support me in my effort so that I may continue to serve you on Borough Council. Together, on June 6th, let’s fight for CHANGE in the Borough. Vote Column 10, Position 3.

Councilman Jim D’Angelo

Please introduce yourself and tell the voters of Bellmawr a little about yourself.

My name is Jim D’Angelo, and I have been a councilman in Bellmawr since 1996. From 1986 to 1996, I served on the Bellmawr Board of Education, and I was a baseball coach for Bellmawr Baseball from 1978 to 1986. I have served on the Executive Board for Bellmawr Baseball and Bellmawr Hockey and am still a member of both organizations.

Presently, I am the Director of the Recreation Department, prior to that I was the Director of the Public Works Department. I am married. My wife’s name is Peggy.

We have lived in Bellmawr since 1979. We have a daughter, Lindsay, and son, Kyle, and four grandsons, Tyler, Jackson, Mason, and Oliver. I was a police officer for 32 years and retired in 2010 as the Chief of Police for the Camden County Park Police.

Jim D'Angelo
Photo provided

Why are you running for a seat on Bellmawr Council?

The simple truth is to make our town better. Always striving to improve the quality of life for all of our residents.

Why are you and Mr. DeAngelis running together?

I have known Mr. DeAngelis for many years. He’s a businessman who has a business mindset. I have always said our government needs to run like a business and I believe he’s the perfect fit for Council. There’s also the issue of moving forward and working together for the betterment of our town and its residents.

He’s trustworthy, treats everyone with the utmost respect, and has the positive attitude and personality which will enable him to work well with all the members of council.  We both look forward to positive change for the borough, and the impact on our residents. We want to unify not divide. Build up, not tear down.

Why should Bellmawr voters vote for you?

Because from day one, I have worked and dedicated my time to making this town better for every resident, whether it was as a coach, BOE member, or councilman. I haven’t lost the passion or desire to serve.  There are still issues that need to be resolved – residents’ concerns that need to be addressed and improvements to our quality of life that need to be made.

What plans or ideas do you have for making Bellmawr better and how do you plan to accomplish that?

As the Director of the Recreation Department, my job is to ensure that all of our playgrounds and facilities are in working order and are safe for our children. When I was appointed to the position, the facilities needed some work and we set up a plan to improve all of our playgrounds.

Why you ask?  When families are moving and looking for a new home, they look at three things: schools, taxes, and recreational facilities for their children. We believe, that by improving our facilities, we can attract new families to move here and we can also show our residents that we value them, and want them to stay in Bellmawr. We apply for grants from the county each year in an attempt to offset some of the costs for each project.

In the near future, depending on the approval of grant monies that could become available, the playground at the Recreation Center will be replaced. It is 18 years old and is beginning to become a liability as it is beginning to fail. It was closed for months last year.  It is becoming a safety issue.

As for improving other departments, I will continue to work with the other Council members when asked and as always listen to the residents and their concerns.

What can be done about lowering property taxes?

That’s the biggest and most difficult question to answer. The Borough taxes are only a part of the issue. You also have the County, Bellmawr BOE and the BHPR [Black Horse Pike Regional] School District tax issues as well. We only control the Borough tax rate. This year, after many hours dedicated by Councilman Ray Bider (finance chair), we managed to go into this year with no tax increase for the Borough residents.

As for the future, we can begin to look at eliminating positions in the Borough, which are not working out in a productive manner. That would save some money, but not a major impact on the tax rate. Remember, and here’s the major issue: State Aid monies control what towns can do and cannot do.

When the aid numbers drop or stay the same, local governments need a way to find the monies to operate and costs always rise.

I could tell you that we could eliminate part of the workforce, but that is very short-sighted and would have a direct impact on our quality of life in town. Eventually, all the cuts you could make will end, and because there will be nothing else left to cut, taxes will once again begin to  rise.

The Borough officials need to be cautious in making decisions based on shortsighted visions.

I believe the State is working on a plan to develop a new method to provide property tax relief to its residents in the near future, much like other states have already done. Hopefully, this will resolve some of our tax problems.

In the near future, I would be cautious in creating new departments, eliminate the ones that do not work or are creating a drain on our budget, streamline our work force, placing them where they are most needed, and cross-train our staff enabling them to multitask whenever possible.

The possibility exists to establish additional shared services agreements, where (some) Borough positions could be shared with other municipalities cutting the cost of their salary in half.

What can be done about attracting more businesses to Bellmawr?

Last year, former Councilman David Spector and I agreed on this very issue. We need to form a redevelopment authority, not just for the landfill, but for the entire town. It should consist of realtors, legal representatives, developers, the Camden County Improvement Authority, if possible state representatives from our district, and yes, a member or two from the Borough council.

Different ideas from different backgrounds all bringing something different to the table. Open discussions pinpointing areas that could attract new businesses. It would be professionally operated and goal oriented.

One of the greatest concerns and questions that Bellmawr residents have is about the “dirt pile” / “the dump”/Bellmawr Waterfront Development. How do you plan to keep the citizens informed about the status of the work that is going on there?

The biggest misconception is that the landfill belongs to Bellmawr. It does not and it never has. Statements have been made over the years that: “We are going to build this or we are going to build that.”

Fact is the Borough isn’t going to build anything. If anything is ever built, it will be the developer doing the building not the Borough.  As for the future, everything depends on whether the state DOT allows for access roads to be constructed into the property.

If they approve enough access roads for the project then we’ll see what the developer has in mind. If not we have a former hazardous landfill that has been capped.

As for keeping the residents informed: All information should be discussed at future Caucus and Council meetings. All pertinent information can also be listed on the Borough website.

What kind of progress is the Borough making with regard to the foreclosed/abandoned homes, unkempt properties?

The Recreation Department is responsible for the upkeep of foreclosed properties in town when the banks fail to maintain the properties. Whenever we do work on these properties, a lien is placed on them so the Borough recovers monies for their time and efforts. When residents have issues with these type of properties, they need to notify the borough and we will help them.

As for developing these properties, I believe we should be actively working with our real estate agents and the banks themselves in order to market these properties for re sale. This would be part of the mission of the Redevelopment Authority which I spoke of earlier.

What do you envision for Bellmawr in the next five years?

It’s as if we have a cloud over our heads. I feel it and many residents sense it as well. So initially we need a major change in the political landscape. It’s Bellmawr’s time to turn the page and start fresh. We need to begin to run the government with a new attitude, listening to our residents and their opinions and treating them with the respect I believe they deserve.

Two items I would like to see occur in the near future, is to have our Caucus meetings and Council meetings streamed live on the Borough website, enabling residents to watch the meeting live as they occur, and have them archived for future viewing. The other matter is having town meetings so we can answer any questions our residents may have. I know Mr. DeAngelis feels the same way regarding this matter.

Final remarks:

There is no denying that I have been serving Bellmawr for a long time, but time served should not be a factor in determining whether one should be reelected. All factors should be taken into consideration. How people work together, do they strive for the common good, do they treat residents with respect, do they make decisions based on what’s best for Bellmawr or their own personal agenda?

It’s a very important decision. I believe that I have proven over the years that Bellmawr has always come first, and it’s not just a re-election slogan, and that my decisions have always been made on facts, not personal feelings. There is still much I wish to accomplish. In getting to this point, I have been very fortunate.

With my friends by my side, I have been able to do some amazing things:

The BOE of 1995, we built the two all-purpose rooms at Bellmawr Park and Ethel Burke Schools.

For the Borough, we opened the county library, and worked on a $3 million dollar sewer rehabilitation project, the construction of Sauter Park and now the (almost complete) rehabilitation of the Recreation Center and all of our playgrounds. I still have the drive to continue my “calling” to my town.

If re-elected I promise to continue my efforts in making Bellmawr the best place to call home. I absolutely love this town.

“Councilman” is only a title of what you are, it’s not who you are. Some people never understand that concept.

Paul DeAngelis

Please introduce yourself and tell the voters of Bellmawr a little about yourself.

My name is Paul DeAngelis. I was born and raised in Bellmawr and have lived here for 57 years. I am a graduate of the Bellmawr schooling system, including Ethel Burke, Bell Oaks, and Triton Regional High School.

I am a business owner in town, having run my automotive company in Bellmawr for 32 years. I am an active member of the Runnemede, Bellmawr, Glendora Rotary as well as the Bellmawr Business Alliance.

Paul DeAngelis
Photo provided

Why are you running for a seat on Bellmawr Council?

My reason for running is I would like to give back to the town that has made me the person I am today. I have raised both of my children here with my wife, Patricia, over the past two decades.

Both of them were active in Bellmawr sports and many recreational events, which have allowed them to enjoy their youth and grow to be well-rounded adults. I would love to help Bellmawr continue to prosper.

Why are you and Councilman D’Angelo running together?

I have always admired Mr. D’Angelo for his great work ethic. Since I have decided to run for council, I have shadowed Jim around the various recreational departments and have witnessed the amount of effort he contributes to the well-being of both the facilities and the people volunteering their time to direct the activities.

No matter what he does, whether it be within the Bellmawr Recreation Department, as a former Public Works Department member, Chief of Police, amongst other roles; he handles the job with care and appreciation for those around him. I look forward to working with Mr. D’Angelo for a better tomorrow in the Borough of Bellmawr.

Why should Bellmawr voters vote for you?

As a successful local, small business owner for over 30 years, I would hope to use my platform as a Councilman to develop a stronger business community by providing support and suggestions from my experienced point of view to enhance the Black Horse Pike business district. Also, I would like to address the increasing issue of abandoned homes in Bellmawr.

I have a plan to encourage the banks to move more swiftly to put these houses on the market. This not only exemplifies our initiative to better the aesthetic of the neighborhoods, but also increases the values of the surrounding homes.

What can be done about lowering property taxes?

Our job as Councilmen is to try to provide the best municipal services for the least amount of tax money.

Unfortunately, we can only control our local taxes. This year, the county has raised taxes property taxes by nearly 4%. This is an issue as not only a business owner, but also a homeowner that raises my concern. I would fight as Councilman to try to keep these county taxes at a lower rate.

What can be done about attracting more businesses to Bellmawr?

I am always interested in new business coming to town, but I worry about a lack of diversification in the types of businesses. If I am elected to Council, I would propose the idea of a finite number of business licenses for each type of business so that the community is well-rounded with various types of companies.

One of the greatest concerns and questions that Bellmawr residents have is about the “dirt pile” / “the dump”/ Bellmawr Waterfront Development. How do you plan to keep the citizens informed about the status of the work that is going on there?

My main source of information about the dump right now as a resident comes from the companies bringing their vehicles into my garage for repairs. When they come in, I question them on progress of the site. They have updated on the development of the project, but this is the only way that I have derived any information.

As a Councilman, I would reach out to the location manager for updates in order to make myself an asset to the people when it comes to their questions.

What plans or ideas do you have for making Bellmawr better and how do you plan to accomplish that? And final remarks

I support and share Mr. D’Angelo’s views on turning over a new leaf for the town government. We have discussed the ideas of live streaming Caucus, Council, and town meetings on the Borough website. I also am very interested in forming a housing authority, specifically speaking to the bank-owned and untreated properties within the community.

I look to expand and provide support for budding businesses while branching out on the types of companies coming into town.

If elected, I hope to bring my ideals to the forefront to my fellow Councilmen and government to make a positive change for the town of Bellmawr.


9 replies on “Meet The 2017 Bellmawr Democratic Council Candidates”

Great job SJO with getting a lot of information from the candidates on their reason for running.

I was struck by the passivity and lack of imagination in many of the answers except for Mr. DeAngelis taking a look at the diversification of new businesses. Adding dollar stores and Goodwill stores isn’t improving the quality of life in town. In fact, tell us how any new business improves the town.

Do they pay taxes, helping to lower the tax rate like in Deptford? We haven’t seen evidence of that yet.

Some other observations from the candidates answers: Bellmawr pays taxes for two school districts Bellmawr and Black Horse Pike. Are you looking at possible changes to that like going to other school districts like Merchantville?

If not, will you be present and the Bellmawr school board meetings looking out for the taxpayers?

As the taxes go up more people can’t afford to stay in their houses increasing the tax burdens for those who remain.

Are any of you guys looking at the root cause of the huge number of abandoned houses in town? There is a house on Creek Road that has been abandoned for 4 years, has never been for sale and is slowly disintegrating.

Contrary to your spin the Bellmawr landfill is not a major success. Declaring victory won’t fool anyone when promises were made and not delivered on, and nothing has been done with the area in a decade. Every contaminated area in the state has to be remediated. Gloucester returned their areas to use for example.

Finally, changing the playground around won’t improve the quality of life in town for most of the residents.

The equipment has been replaced a few times. It would be better use of brain power to improve the parking on the streets by the rec, long lines at the Creek Road traffic lights etc.

How about new walking paths, through the industrial park, rails to trails etc.

Right now Bellmawr is an increasingly blighted town surrounded by more and highways, traffic and sound barriers due to the lack of leadership.

Most of these answers represent the status quo unfortunately.

I have been a resident of Bellmawr for 24 years. I have also gone to Council meetings with complaints only to be talked down to and have my concerns ignored by the Mayor and Council EXCEPT for Paul Sandrock. He is the only Council member who has ever taken an interest in helping. I have also watched this town go downhill in the past 24 years. I am looking for a change and that change does not include the same old, same old! Everyone talks a good game when they are running for a political office but all that energy and all those promises are forgotten once you’re elected. It’s time for a change and I think that Paul Sandrock is the change this town needs!

Jim D’Angelo is right! We need a change in the political landscape in town and it needs to start with him. 20+ years as a councilman in town!!! Do we really want or need the same ??? NO! Time for change.

I believe Paul Sandrock when he says he is pushing for change. That Democrat Club is a cesspool of political cronies. Paul deserves another term to make changes. It’s got to be tough in that entrenched environment, but I will support him again.

I don’t really know much about Paul DeAngelis since I never used his auto shop, but I’ll give him a shot. I wasn’t impressed with his answers. He should make it his business to know more about things like the dump if he’s going to run for council and previously run for mayor. Lastly, why has it taken 57 years for him to give back. You do’t have to run for office to give back. Volunteer? Like I said, I’ll give him a shot since it’s better than having another 4 years with D’Angelo.

Paul and Paul have my vote.

I’m sorry I’m looking at the big picture here. Number 1 Mr Sandrock wants to rid the borough of old school politics. Yet he aligns himself with the king of them. Our Mayor. The mayor has been calling local businesses on his behalf. I feel like we’ve had the same mayor forever and if we keep voting in hits cronies that won’t change.

2. Who is Mr. Sandrock? As long as I’ve lived here I’ve never interacted with him. But now that there’s an election, he’s the picture of town pride.

3. Mr. Deangelo has been on the council for a long time. While I don’t know exactly what he’s accomplished beyond the rec stuff as least he gets that done. He’s s presence in town and I’ve spoken too him around town. As someone with children, I respect what he does for them.

4. Mr. Deangelis seems like a great guy he’s always smiling and happy. I love the fact that he’s a business owner in town. He has no political experience and that can be a good or bad thing. Good because he hasn’t been marred by the machine. Bad too because what can he really bring to the table? Some would argue that as a business owner he has a sound idea of money and such period while some would argue that as a business owner he may not have the time to commit. I know there are changes being made within the Democrat Club. For once the mayor’s candidate didn’t get picked. I am not super aware of all the politics in town but I know that I would love a new mayor. Anyone with his support doesn’t get mine. Will just be more of the same. I’m voting DeAngelis D’Angelo

If residents don’t want more of the same, then why would you vote for Mr. D’Angelo? Mr. D’Angelo is the Mayor’s choice. He has been on Council for years and nothing has changed.If residents keep voting in the same people, nothing will ever change!!!!!

If mr. Deangelo is the Mayor’s Choice why is the mayor making calls for Sandrock? I’ve spoken to at least two business owners in town who received the call from the mayor to vote for Sandrock.

Mr. Sandrock has also been on the council and I have seen a change. Just saying

Mr. Sandrock was elected to Council in 2013; however, Mr. DeAngelo has made a career out of it – Councilman since 1996! What makes you think he is going to change things now? I didn’t know either of them until I had problems and Mr. Sandrock was and is the only one trying to help! If Mr. Sandrock was the Mayor’s choice, he would be running on the Democratic ticket with Mr DeAngelo. Wake up!

Whoever you decide to vote for its imperative that you vote. A lot of people didn’t vote for the Presidency and look what happened.

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