There is one seat up for grabs in next week’s election for the Howell Township Council as incumbent Councilman Robert Walsh looks to keep the seat he was appointed to last year.
The former mayor was appointed to fill the seat left vacant when current Mayor Bill Gotto was elected after Walsh opted not to seek another term in office. Challenging Walsh this year is Democrat Cochise Doucette who has unsuccessfully sought a seat on the council in the past.
Both candidates were asked to answer the same questions about themselves and their political stances for Howell Patch.
COCHISE DOUCETTE CANDIDATE PROFILE
Name: Cochise Doucette
Occupation: Supermarket worker- Stop & Shop Supermarkets, Member UFCW Local 1262 for 36 years.
1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and why you should be elected.
I began living in New Jersey in 1968 when my father Salvador Doucette (U.S. Army retired) was transferred from Neuenburg Germany. We are still a U.S. Army family with roots on both coasts of the U.S. and in Europe. I was born in New Orleans, LA where the Doucette family has lived since colonial times. I chose to live in New Jersey.
I have worked for all my life in the private sector economy. My education (Rutgers University School of Business New Brunswick 1992) and work expertise is working in successful and profitable supermarkets. These operations could be used as a proxy for successful governments. They act with a civil morality toward both customer and employee. They use real market forces like cost and competition to set the prices of their products. They negotiate these factors with a philosophy that they are part of the local economy and only profit from its success. Many also use collective bargaining (unions) the only private sector market force to negotiate the cost of labor. The idea of paying a real living wage to its employees has been a key factor in both a successful business and a moral just society. While many conservative leaders in local, state, and federal government continue to claim they want to run our country like a business, they do things no successful business can do. No business can sell its goods and services for less than the cost to produce them. That is exactly what we do in the state and national economy. The fixed cost to produce labor in the state of New Jersey is $15 per hour, so to sell it for less produces deficits. First the fiscal deficits created by the social programs need to subsidize the labor of business large and small. More importantly the moral deficit it creates from people working without a hope of achieving the American Dream and the corrosive effect poverty has on our society.
These are just a few of the many policies I believe the Howell Township Council could be promoting. While reasonable people can and do differ on the wisdom of the actions and policies of the Howell Township Council, it is lack of vision that disappoints me. I seek this office because it is the things we fail to do that often cause the greatest harm.
2. What do you think distinguishes you from other candidates? What do you bring to the table?
I have a progressive political philosophy guided by my Catholic faith. This is very different from the current Tea Party conservatives that now dominate the Howell Township Council. I believe that government has a responsibility to represent all of its citizens not just special interest groups. The most important job of an elected office holder at any level of government make sure government keeps its promises to all citizens. These promises, often called the American Dream, are illuminated in the words of both the Federal and State Constitutions. Protecting these rights, both civil and economic, is the job all elected office holders.
3. What are the most pressing issues facing the community today? How would you approach and resolve these issues?
I believe the most pressing issues facing Howell are the same as those facing the state of New Jersey and the whole United States. We have to work to enhance our local economy not just manage its decline. The Howell Township Council should be fighting to actually lower our property taxes not just raise them only in line with the 2% cap. This requires that we raise revenue with more equitable and progressive methods. We can no longer rely on the current tax system to fund the needs of New Jersey in the 21st century. The burden of funding our government needs to be placed on the entire economy of the state and it should be relatively immune to the economic cycle. Funding our society with revenues from gambling, like the lottery, or liquor and cigarette taxes is in my opinion immoral. The current practice of passing the cost of every revenue shortfall on to the local property tax payers is extremely regressive and unsustainable. New ideas need to percolate up from the local town council and boards of educations. We have a long tradition of grass root bottom up governing. Local government must tell Trenton and even Washington what we need.
This is the reason I am running for public office. The current members of the Howell Township Council envision the job as midlevel managers in a large business. They have diminished the offices they hold by tacitly accepting the judgment of their political party and Governor Christie. When the my opponent then the mayor of Howell told us three years ago we were broke and needed to stop the spending, he put our town on its current path of continuing decline in the quality of life to the middle class citizens of Howell. The majority of the council views government as a fee for service operation and uses “code phrases” like “shared services” or “privatization” to shift the cost and responsibility of governing on to the backs of ordinary citizens. These men while exhibiting exemplary character in their personal lives, seem unable to muster the imagination and courage needed in public office. History tells us the philosophy of sacrificing our children’s education and the quality of life of our senior citizens to promote economic growth is immoral and it never works.