Tag Archives: Susan Sorensen

Fair Haven Council Election Winners Split Ticket: Sorensen & Rodriguez

With all six districts reporting results as of 9 p.m. on election night, voters have split the party teams running for Fair Haven Borough Council and elected Republican incumbent Susan Sorensen to serve her third term and Democrat Christopher Rodriguez for his first full term.

Rodriguez, who ran for his first full council term after being chosen to fill Democrat Aimee Humphreys’ unexpired term, garnered the most votes with 1,148, or 26.05 percent of the vote. Sorensen brought in 1,120, 28 fewer, or 25.41 percent of the vote, according to the Monmouth County Clerk’s online election results.

Sorensen’s running mate, Betsy Koch, garnered 1,112 votes. And Rodriguez’s running mate, Jessica Patel, got 1,017 votes.

A total of 4,407 votes were cast. There were 10 write-ins.

In the District 13 State Senate race, Republican Declan O’Scanlon won with 32,484 votes. Democrat Sean F. Byrnes garnered 26,376 votes.

In the District 13 Assembly race, Republicans Amy Handlin and Serena DiMaso won.

The results are unofficial, as provisional and mail-in ballots have not yet been tallied.

Neither Sorensen nor Rodriguez was available for comment on election night. We will feature a post-election interview with both. 

— Elaine Van Develde

Election Time: Q&A with Sorensen & Koch, Fair Haven GOP Borough Council Candidates

This year in Fair Haven there area two three-year seats on the Borough Council up for grabs. Running in teams are Republican incumbent Susan Sorensen and newcomer Betsy Koch and Democrats Christopher Rodriguez and Jessica Patel.

Rodriguez is currently filling the unexpired term of Democrat Aimee Humphreys, who moved out of the borough. Patel is a newcomer to the political arena.

Koch is seeking her inaugural term on council. Her husband, the late Jerome Koch, served. Sorensen is seeking a third term on the six-member governing body with a weak mayor-strong council form of government. In this form of municipal government, the mayor presides over meetings, but only casts a vote in the case of a tie and has veto power.

The following is Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect’s Q&A with Sorensen and Koch. The questions are listed with each candidate’s response.

Name, address and age (sorry)

Susan Sorensen

Susan Sorensen, 34 Clay Street, Fair Haven, 54 years old

Betsy Koch

Elizabeth Koch, 27 Sycamore Lane, Fair Haven, NJ,  66


Susan Sorensen

Sales Executive in the Telecommunications Industry for over 30 years

Betsy Koch

Science/MathTeacher, Knollwood School, 23 years

Volunteer affiliations

Susan Sorensen

Volunteer on various committees for close to 20 years in Fair Haven.  These include but are not limited to: councilwoman, council chair for Parks & Recreation, council liaison for Fair Haven Historic Commission, Fair Haven Police Commissioner and liaison to OEM, Fire Department & First Aid, liaison to Board of Education, liaison to the FH Fields Natural Area, council chair for Personnel, on special Facilities Committee regarding The Foundation of Fair Haven, president and founding member Centennial Committee, 2012 event chair of an event each month including the large celebration that today is now Fair Haven Day, Fair Haven Day 2013 – 2017 and hopefully 2018 event chair, Oktoberfest 2012– 2017, and hopefully 2018 event chair, Teen Canteen Chair 2008-2015, PTA Luncheon 50/50 chair 4 years, Personnel Committee for the Borough of Fair Haven, Event Chair (3) of the Historic Preservation Committee’s Annual Garden Party, Team Mom on various sports – too many to name, event chair (3) for RFH Lacrosse Fundraiser

Betsy Koch

Parks and Recreation (27 years), Zoning Board (2 years)

What is your favorite charitable cause outside of the borough and why?  

Susan Sorensen

Monmouth Day Care Center – which is located in Red Bank, NJ, a non-profit organization that provides a safe and nurturing environment for many young children in the area who may not have support otherwise. They have been around since 1969, and my aunt was on their board many years ago, and I love that I am able to continue the tradition for this great and worthy local cause.

Betsy Koch

HABCORE, a very committed group of volunteers who fundraise to provide housing for the homeless

What is your premier campaign platform issue and how do you propose accomplishing your goal?

Susan Sorensen

Throughout my tenure on council I have enhanced Fair Haven’s numerous avenues for communication and I hope to continue to do so. It is imperative that we remain fiscally prudent and responsible especially with our upcoming facilities challenges. I have been involved on the special committee working towards a sustainable solution for future generations in regards to the challenges we are facing, while being creative to find ways to offset some of the financial burden.

Betsy Koch

I have several goals.  As a member of the Zoning Board I would like to see us clarify some of the ordinances which are unclear and at times cause our citizens undue financial hardship. I would like to see the DPW open more than once a month. Fair Haven is in the early planning stages for upgrades/changes to some of our municipal facilities and I would like to be a part of that process.

How long have you lived in Fair Haven?  What brought you here and in what year?

Susan Sorensen

I was born in the area, and once we began a family, we chose to move to Fair Haven in 1998 because of the warm community and charm of the town, especially in the historic district where we live.

Betsy Koch

42 years. My husband Jerome had a ROTC scholarship and when he graduated from college he had a four-year commitment to the Army. His second (and last) posting was Fort Monmouth (1975).

What was the first thing (situation, inanimate object, image  … anything) you encountered in the borough that captured your heart and clarified your decision that there would be no place like this home for you? And don’t say the schools or the scenic suburban atmosphere. They are givens.  

Susan Sorensen

We were coming to the area every weekend and finally decided to move here – our first image of Fair Haven when we were looking for a home to raise our children was watching all the children ride their bikes to school.  I grew up in a town that had a similar “to school” routine and it really hit home for us.

Betsy Koch

As young newlyweds we needed a place to live and the real estate agent suggested Fair Haven. We bought our first home on Fair Haven Road and joined Newcomers. We met wonderful neighbors, made great friends and loved the sense of community that was so evident in so many community events (parades, recreational activities, access to the river and so much more).

Being a local official can be a tiresome, thankless job involving a major investment of time and heart. Why do you want it? Cite the pay and benefits for a Fair Haven Borough Council member.  

Susan Sorensen

This has nothing to do with pay, Fair Haven is one of the few towns in NJ that doesn’t get paid anything let alone a stipend.  I was raised to give back to my community, it is engrained in me – and have done so even as a child.

The pay and benefits for a Fair Haven Borough Council member cannot be measure in dollars and cents – it is measured in witnessing your hard volunteer hours, strategy sessions, community outreach, countless meetings paying off – such as municipal budgets remaining relatively flat for 7 out of 8 years, improvements to our infrastructure (roads, curbs, sidewalks), new tennis courts, huge improvements to Fair Haven Fields, increased river access, creative solutions to financial challenges, the list goes on and on.

Betsy Koch

I have always been involved in community affairs. As the oldest child in a family of 10, our parents always encouraged us to be involved. Whether serving meals in a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving, raising funds for families less fortunate than ours during the holidays or something simple like visiting an older neighbor of my parents, volunteerism has always been a part of my DNA and encouraged by my parents. I have reached a point in my life where I have the time, the energy and the passion to become involved in government at the local level. 
Fair Haven is one of the few communities that not only do not provide pay or benefits for their council members, but do not provide stipends for council members’ expenses associated with their positions.

How do you feel about the gentrification — boom in retail and residential development in the past several years — in Fair Haven and the growing lack of affordability for the middle class?

It has been said that large, expensive homes are what the market is demanding. The predominant demographic for the borough, according to the 2010 census, is white families (73.6 percent headed by married couples and 51.4 percent of all households with children under 18 living with them). The median family income was $113,546. The median for Monmouth County is $82,265. For New Jersey, it’s $71,637.  

Susan Sorensen

Families are drawn to Fair Haven because we are an extremely well run town. Fair Haven encourages small businesses to move to Fair Haven,  which in turn helps to offset the tax burden on our families.   Currently there is a strategic committee in place to review all zoning ordinances to update and clarify.

Betsy Koch

Response unified with running mate, Susan Sorensen.

Do you think there is a need to rethink residential zoning that allows for and make room for more affordable, smaller homes, maybe even apartments, and diversity?

According to the 2010 census, 7.3 percent of the households in Fair Haven were comprised of someone living alone age 65 or older. 

Susan Sorensen

Yes we do.  But the reality is that there is very little property available for these types of residences. As our population ages, we need to be more creative and look for ways to provide more affordable housing and encourage our seniors to stay in Fair Haven.  Committees are currently exploring such options with Fair Haven’s upcoming municipal facility challenges.

Betsy Koch

Unified response with running mate, Susan Sorensen.

How do you propose to keep the area affordable for seniors who have lived here most of their lives and would like to stay? 

It’s no secret that the average assessed property value in Fair Haven is one of the highest in the county and state at more than $700,000. The municipal taxes have stayed level for several years, but the rate itself is high, comparatively. Many people are not only fleeing the state, but leaving Fair Haven. 

Susan Sorensen

This is a similar question and answer above in regards to creating affordable housing. With that said, the more important issue is taxes and the Borough Council has worked extremely hard to maintain a relatively flat budget over the last decade while continuing to improve the quality of life in Fair Haven.

Only approximately 20% of your overall tax bill is the municipal portion, with the balance not directly being within the borough’s purview.  Fair Haven has worked strategically with the other entities in regards to shared services as well as other options to help reduce overall spend.  As members of Parks & Recreation we have worked hard to address the recreational needs of our seniors and provide them with the funds and opportunities to pursue their mutual interests. Some examples:  bus trips, health and yoga classes, lining our new tennis courts with lines for pickleball.

Betsy Koch

Unified response with running mate Susan Sorensen. The more important issue is taxes and the Borough Council has worked extremely hard to maintain a relatively flat budget over the last decade while continuing to improve the quality of life in Fair Haven. As a member of Parks and Recreation we have worked very hard to address the recreational needs of our seniors and provide them with the funds and opportunities to pursue their mutual interests. Examples include: bus trips (Cape May), health and yoga classes and lining our new tennis courts for pickle ball.

Who is your local political role model, past or present? It can be someone from another municipality anywhere. Why this person?

Susan Sorensen

Hands down – Jon Peters.  When he joined Council the philosophy changed from reactionary to long range, strategic thinking.  He is a brilliant strategist and economist – with some urban/suburban planning thrown in for good measure. You will not find a better financial expert in the region. I have learned more from Jon and I truly hope I have the opportunity to continue to learn from him.

Betsy Koch (taken beyond the local level)

Eleanor Roosevelt.  I grew up in New York State near Hyde Park and she was an icon in our family.  She was the first First Lady to become involved in politics in her own way.  She was a champion for human rights, children’s causes and women’s rights.   

Local politics/governing bodies have a significant effect on residents. So do residents on one another. Whether or not you are elected, what, as a small town suburban resident, would you like to be your legacy? 

Susan Sorensen

I would like the residents of Fair Haven to continue to enjoy all of the hard efforts that have gone into the many improvements throughout the borough, specifically the facilities within our Parks and Recreation.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention being one of the founders and the president of the Foundation of Fair Haven, which has brought the borough many community events beginning with our Centennial Year all the way through the many Fair Haven Days and Oktoberfests. I truly hope my legacy is one of volunteerism and enhancing Fair Haven’s sense of community one event at a time.

Betsy Koch

I would like the residents of Fair Haven to remember my work as a founding member on the Foundation of Fair Haven and the many community events our Foundation sponsored. It has been my privilege to be a member of the staff at Knollwood School for 23 years and work with the children in our community.  I am honored to have worked with Joe Perrotto on a very special project.  We created a Wall of Honor at Knollwood School to honor our Knollwood graduates who are currently serving on active duty in the Armed Forces.   
I would like my legacy to be one of volunteerism and enhancing the Fair Haven community spirit – one event at a time.


Focus: A Fair Haven GOP Council Candidates’ Meet & Greet

Fair Haven Republican Borough Council candidates Susan Sorensen and Betsy Koch cordially invited, as all invites go, Fair Havenites and all other interested parties to a meet-and-greet, getting-to-know-you gathering at The Raven and the Peach Thursday evening.

Sorensen, the incumbent, has served on various committees in her tenure, including starting the non-profit Foundation of Fair Haven, which is designed to offset costs for special events like Fair Haven Day and Oktoberfest.

This is a first run for political office for Koch. A longtime teacher at Knollwood School, she has said that she felt the timing was right for her to pitch in as a seated councilwoman in the hometown borough she loves and as a testament to the legacy of her husband Jerome, who served on council until his premature death a few years ago.

Take a look at the photo gallery below for a glimpse into the evening …. (and don’t forget to click to enlarge!)

— Elaine Van Develde

Retro Tiki Haven Antics

Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen and Dan Kane are up to some Tiki antics at the 2015 Tiki Haven. Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen and Dan Kane are up to some Tiki antics at the 2015 Tiki Haven.
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Aloha! It’s Hawaiian for hello and goodbye, right?

Well, unfortunately, this year, after a successful first Tiki Haven last year, before the date even got here it was time to say “Aloha” to this year’s Tiki Haven, the fundraiser for future Fair Haven Days.

Continue reading Retro Tiki Haven Antics

Fair Haven Names in News

By Elaine Van Develde

Fair Haven’s reorganization day may have come and gone, but a few appointments had yet to be made.

So, that business was completed at the Jan. 29 meeting with an appointment to the borough Planning Board, Memorial Park Advisory Committee and Historic Preservation Committee.

Continue reading Fair Haven Names in News

In with the New at Fair Haven’s New Year’s Day Reorganization


By Elaine Van Develde

Reorganization 2015 in Fair Haven brought a new council member to the dais — a lone Democrat — and new fire and first aid line officers.

In addition to Mayor Ben Lucarelli being sworn in to his first full four-year term, incumbent Susan Sorensen took the oath for her second council term. The newcomer to the governing body, Aimee Humphreys was sworn in to her first three-year and then took a seat at the dais for her first council meeting..

Fair Haven Fire Department and First Aid Squad members were sworn in as follows:

Fair Haven Fire Department line officers

• Chief, Scott Eskwitt

• Deputy Chief, Mike Weihl

• First Assistant Chief, Tim Morrissey

• Second Assistant Chief, Matt DePonti

Fair Haven First Aid Squad officers

• Captain, Joe Truex

• First Lieutenant, Kim Ambrose

• Second Lieutenant, Amanda Lynn

Fair Haven Fire Police Officers

• Captain, Lew Davison

• First Lieutenant, Frank Scalzo

• Second Lieutenant, Dan Chernavsky

Water Rescue/Dive Team

• Co-Captain/Sr. Administrator, John Felsmann

• Operations, James Cerruti and Robert Frank

• Training Officer, William Heath

Fair Haven Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary

• President, Trudy Wojciehowski

• Vice President, Amanda Lynn

Retro Look at a ‘Fair’ Councilwoman and Friends

Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen and husband Peter Maher enjoy the Fair Haven Firemen's Fair 2014 with friends.  Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen and husband Peter Maher enjoy the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair 2014 with friends.
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

On the cusp of reorganizations in Rumson and Fair Haven, we thought it might be appropriate to take a look back at warmer days of re-elected Fair Haven Councilwoman Susan Sorensen enjoying the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect had just started making the photo rounds when we ran into Sorensen, her husband, Peter Maher, and friends at the fair.

Congrats on soon being sworn in to your second term on New Year’s Day, Susan!

New Year’s Day R-FH Area Reorganizations

By Elaine Van Develde

Both Rumson and Fair Haven’s reorganizations are, as usual, slated for the same day, same time — New Year’s Day at noon.

Though they are, naturally, in different places — Rumson’s at Bingham Hall and Fair Haven’s at Borough Hall. And, the agendas are different.

In Fair Haven, Democrat Aimee Humphreys will be sworn in to her first term on Borough Council. Mayor Ben Lucarelli will be sworn in to his first full four-year term in office after filling the unexpired term of former Mayor Michael Halfacre. Susan Sorensen will be sworn in to her second term on the dais.

Humphreys unseated three-term incumbent Jerome Koch. Shortly after the elections, with one council meeting left to the year, Koch was tragically killed in a bicycle accident on River Road.

Fire Department and First Aid officers will also be inducted into their new annual roles.

There are no new council members in Rumson to be sworn in for this year’s reorganization. However, the usual municipal reappointments will take hold as well as those of fire and first aid officers.

In Rumson, however, Mayor John Ekdahl is known for his annual speech. Which, he tells Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect, will be delivered about half way through the ceremony.


Dem Breaks GOP Hold on Fair Haven Council

By Elaine Van Develde

The unofficial results are in and they’re showing that, for the first time in more than a decade, the all-Republican hold on Fair Haven’s governing body has been broken.

Newcomer to the local political scene, Aimee Humphreys, has unseated longtime Republican incumbent Jerome Koch.

With what was considered a good voter turnout for mid-term elections at the borough polls, according to Monmouth County Board of Elections’ results tally, Humphreys beat Koch by more than 100 votes — her 1079 to his 963.

The high vote getter in the council race was Susan Sorensen, who won her second three-year seat on the dais with 1,216 votes, or roughly 37 percent to Humphreys’ approximate 33.

Total votes cast for the council race were 3,268.

There were five write-ins. And as “unofficial” results dictate, provision and absentee ballots have not all been counted.

Republican Mayor Ben Lucarelli has won his uncontested bid for re-election with 1,354 votes. There were 25 write-ins.

The last time the GOP hold on the dais was broken was when Joseph Szostak won his independent bid for mayor in 2002. He served one term through 2006 when former Mayor Michael Halfacre won the mayoral election.

He served until 2012, or one-and-a-half terms, when he stepped down upon being appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to serve as director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Watch for a follow-up interview with the newest member of the governing body and Sorensen.