Fair Haven’s GOP Council Candidates: A Chat with Jacquie Rice

Jaqueline Rice
Photo/courtesy of Jaqueline Rice

In the race for the three seats that are up for grabs on Fair Haven Borough Council, six candidates are vying for the wins. Three are newcomer Democrats. Three are Republicans.

Of the Republicans, one is an incumbent, one a newcomer, and one a former councilman. Newcomer to the governing body race, Jacquie Rice, is on the ballot to fill the one-year unexpired term of former Councilman Rowland Wilhelm.

Jacquie Rice gave Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect a glimpse into her background and political vision in a Q&A chat … 

Name, address, age:
Jacqueline Rice, 45 Maple Avenue, 51
Where did you grow up?
Union Beach, NJ
How long have you been a Fair Haven resident? If you left and returned, explain when and why.
I have lived in Fair Haven since February 2005, 13 years.
Any past experience on a local board or commission, organization or governing body? If not in Fair Haven, where, in what capacity and for how long?
I spent a year on the Board of Directors for the Junior League of Monmouth County during the 2016-17 league year as recording secretary.
I have been a member of the Steering Committee for the Running and Winning Workshop for five years. I am in charge of the Women in Government committee and I assist in the overall running of the workshop.
Volunteer work? Community organizations?
I have been a member of the Foundation of Fair Haven since 2012. The Foundation raises funds and organizes events such as Fair Haven Day and Octoberfest as a means to bring the community together.
I have been a member of the Fair Haven Recreation Committee since January 2018. The committee organizes kids camps, adult and senior programs throughout the year. We also monitor our parks and identify areas that need improvement.
I am a member of the Junior League of Monmouth County. I joined in 2012 and have served positions on the State Public Affairs Committee which advocates to improve the lives of women and children in the state of NJ.
I served on the Board of Directors for the 2016-17 year. I have also served on the building operations committee. I am a Steering Committee member for the Running and Winning Workshop. This is a one day workshop organized by members of the Junior League of Monmouth County, the League of Women Voters, the AAUW and Haddassa of Red Bank.
The workshop brings together junior year high school girls, introduces them to local women in government and guides them through a mock presentation process to their school Board of Education to advocate for change.
The workshop’s goal is to encourage these young women to take leadership roles or run for office in the future.
If you are running to fill an unexpired term, why did you opt to run to fill in for a short time rather than full term? Local politics can prove to be more overwhelming than anticipated. If you are running for a full term, elected and find the job isn’t what you expected, is it your intention to complete your term, regardless?
I am running for the one year unexpired term because that is the seat that was offered to me. Since I have been wanting to run for council for several years now, I jumped at the opportunity when it was presented to me.
If elected, I do plan on serving the unexpired year and running for the full term next election.
What do you do for a living, for how long and how do you think your professional career/skills will make you an asset as a public servant?
Currently I am a stay-at-home mom raising two children ages 12 & 10. I do work part time for Rice Associates in Fair Haven managing the office.
Before becoming a mom I was a project manager, in Manhattan, in the Contract Furniture industry. I was responsible for all aspects of a clients relocation as it pertained to their furniture needs. In this role I became an expert at multitasking.
I dealt with customers, vendors, warehouses, trucking companies, building management and installation crews. I learned how to deal with many personalities and many “emergencies.”
This role taught me how to see the big picture and gets things done in a timely manner. I believe these skills will translate well into the borough council role.
If this is your first go at public office, what prompted you to run?
This is my first time running. I have been interested in politics and governance for many years but I would say it was my three years on the State Public Affairs Committee with the Junior League of Monmouth County that led me to seek an elected position.
While on the committee, I met with many legislators, learned how legislation is written from a single idea and how to examine the piece of legislation for unintended consequences.
I went to Trenton several times and sat in on committee meetings and was educated on the process. It was during this time that I realized how a single idea, an idea to help people, can be made into law. I decided that I wanted to be a part of that process.
Which U.S. president is your political role model? Why, specifically?
There are two presidents that come to mind. The first is Ronald Reagan. I was young during the Iran Crisis and I remember seeing the Americans being held hostage for such a long time. Ronald Reagan came into office and the hostages were immediately released. I realized then that being a strong leader, making your presence known and standing strong for what you know is right will yield results.
The second President is George W. Bush. I was thankful for his leadership skills after September 11th. I was in a terrible state of mind after being downtown that day and his calm demeanor, yet forceful assurance that everything would be ok was what I needed during that time.
President Bush also helped spark an interest in volunteering for me. In many of his speeches, he continually stated that all citizens should get involved in their communities.
He stressed the importance of grass roots organizations being better equipped to identify the needs of the people than the large federal government. That message reverberated with me so when I found myself settled into a community I began to volunteer.
What is your favorite charitable organization? Why?
The Junior League of Monmouth County, without a shadow of a doubt.
The League has given me the skills, knowledge and confidence that I need in order to take on this new role. I will be forever grateful for the Junior League and what it has brought to my life. I cannot say enough good things about this organization. Every woman should join!
Which local or regional official/representative (municipal governing body member, senator, assemblyman, congressman) do you admire most? Why?
Honestly, I admire anyone who is willing to run for election and be a part of government. Whether that be local, county, state or federal. It is not an easy process to put yourself through so you really have to want to be a part of the solution.
This country is so divided these days and I think that everyone needs to put side partisan views every now and then and simply appreciate the fact that these individuals in office or running for office are doing so because they honestly care about our country and want to make it better.
Fair Haven Borough Council members are completely uncompensated volunteers. There is no pay involved. It is also a very time-consuming job that requires transparency and accessibility to the public. What benefit is there for you, specifically, besides the obvious, serving the town in which you live? 
The benefit for me is helping our town to run as smoothly and efficiently as it can so that the way of life we all experience here will continue into the future.
What are your key platform issues? Why did you choose these issues as focal points?  
I would like to implement an emergency brush pickup program. This program would allow residents who have trees (small) or branches that fall after a storm to call Boro Hall and be put on a “special” pick up list. Residents would be given a time, say a week after the storm, to call and the DPW would pick up the debris. This would alleviate residents from having to store these branches on their property until the next brush pick up.
I would also revamp the entire brush pick up schedule. When I first moved to town in 2005, we did not have piles of leaves and brush cluttering our streets. I know we have cut back on the DPW staff but we have to find a better way to address this situation.
I plan to investigate new ways to keep McCarter Park and Schwenkers Pond clean. I know the Boro has been working to clean them up but we still have the same problem with the algae. A working solution needs to be found.
I would like to re-examine the dredging bid to see if there are ways to alter the bid in order to make dredging more cost efficient. I also would like to look into installing fountains as opposed to the bubblers that are currently installed.
I also plan to examine the DPW and find ways for them to work more efficiently. This does not mean that I have any desire to eliminate positions, I feel we are at the bare bones of staff right now. What I would like to examine is how responsibilities are being assigned and see how the process can be altered to ensure the town needs are being met while making sure that the workload is distributed fairly and evenly.
I will work with the borough with respect to the capital improvements that have been proposed. There are a lot of moving parts within this proposal and I will do everything in my power to ensure that costs are minimal or even flat to the residents. This can be done by ensuring the sale of newly unused lots bring in fair market value.
One of the last items I will mention is finding ways to help our seniors stay in town. It has been mentioned that the lots being sold from the DPW site can be used to build 55 and older housing. I would work as hard as I can to make  that happen.