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Lee Albright Enters Commissioners Race

Albright is the third candidate for three available seats on the Haddonfield Board of Commissioners.

Lee Albright, the chairwoman of the borough Historic Preservation Commission and president of the Historical Society of Haddonfield, announced her candidacy Monday for one of three available seats on the Haddonfield Board of Commissioners.

Albright fired off an email message to supporters on Monday announcing a campaign kickoff Sunday at her home. She said the meeting agenda will include an overview of her background, presentation of her platform and will solicit feedback about critical issues to Haddonfield residents.

Albright confirmed her candidacy during a brief phone conversation Monday evening, but declined to comment further. Her email asked supporters to email others to encourage support and for addresses to provide a bow to be hung on the front door to signal support.

Albright is the third candidate to announce a run for the Board of Commissioners. Others include incumbent Commissioner Jeff Kasko and Neal Rochford, a former commissioner.

The announcement last month from Commissioner Letitia "Tish" Colombi that she will not seek an eighth, four-year term has thrown the race wide open. Colombi, who was elected mayor for the past 12 years in an election among the three commissioners, is the only woman to ever be elected to the board.

A third incumbent, Commissioner Ed Borden, has not announced if he will seek a third term in the May 14 election. Candidates must submit a petition to run by March 15.

The three commissioners are the highest elected borough officials.

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Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 03:33 AM
Getting these grants is a highly competitive process and requires the diligence of concerned residents to take the time to step up and aggressively apply and go after them. They don't simply fall in our laps. To date, we have captured more grant funding than we have paid into our open space trust fund. Yes, I am well aware that we pay into those county programs, but are you aware that historically, we have gotten almost nothing back from them to use in our town. Our Borough officials were not going after these funds, so concerned residents like Lee and a few others have gotten together to make that happen before the relevant deadlines.
Walter Weidenbacher February 26, 2013 at 03:38 AM
If Bill T is correct, that every candidate voted for the Bancroft initiative, then.., no candidate — not one — can be said to reflect or speak for the majority of voters, at least in this all-important tax and spend issue. So, what is it about becoming a candidate that a true representative of the people's will is not stepping up? Is it money, or what? My first question to each of the candidates is, "Where do you stand regarding the Bancroft purchase presented to the voters in January? Would you vote for it (again)?" Walter Weidenbacher
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 03:39 AM
Also, it is important to realize that to even be realistically considered to win any of these funding awards, you must demonstrate that taxpayers in the town are committed to a dedicated open space trust fund of their own. Make no mistake about it, had residents not decided to support and establish the OSTF, these grants would not have been received for the town.
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 04:41 AM
I think Walter's point would only be relevant if: a) any of the candidates were not fully believers in the referendum process for this issue and instead believed in imposing their own viewpoint AND b) if this were not already decided. Additionally, let's not forget that a significant proportion of voters on BOTH sides of the issue were struggling with certain aspects of the proposal that may or may not have been exactly to their liking. I strongly believe that there were plenty of voters who were only marginally in favor OR not in favor and could have been swayed either way by certain aspects had they been different. Having said all of that, the vote was very close. But that ship has sailed and as with any BOE proposal, it is always subject to voter approval. And lest we forget, this was the BOE's project and not that of the Commissioners. Folks trying to make the upcoming election of a separate governing body about any one issue, even Bancroft, would be rather narrow minded to me and it is my hope that we could have more faith in voters than that. Remember, the commissioner led prior proposals were failures so they agreed to let the BOE test the public appetite. A more relevant question would be how would you have voted for the failed ultra high density proposal they had previously tried to advance. Although that plan is dead now too.,..
David Siedell February 26, 2013 at 05:36 AM
Walter, it isn't that balck or white. I spoke to a whole lot of folks during and after the election. I believe a great many folks thought it was a good thing to do and those same folks thought the price was too high. I think at a more favorable price, one more reflective of a realistic value of the property and with a clearer roadmap would get a majority of votes. Hind sight is 20/20. As for our elected officials, for 3 years Ed Borden wanted that land to produce ratables through a ccrc or other activity and add to our tax revenues. revenue producing ideas were also met with stiff resistance. Mr. Rock, meet Ms. Hardplace.
Nancy February 26, 2013 at 01:24 PM
Bill can you provide specific examples of what grants we have received and what they went towards? I think its nice that Lee stepped up if the boro didn't but I still don't think its as difficult as you suggest. She may be a good commissioner but we need more details than just taking your word for it. We pay the county almost $500,000 a year. What is the ROI on money back from them?
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Nancy, I don't have exact figures on what we pay toward the county and state in open space monies but I am sure you can look it up somewhere, probably online. But I will say that we had historically gotten almost zero funding back and had cumulatively contributed heavily. There is no requirement for those entities to give funds back to any specific town, but we certainly are required to pay into those funds. It had become a serious inequity. This was the beauty of us creating our own OSTF and certain people like Lee Albright, Kim Custer, Jamie Fram, and many others including myself dug in and did something about it. Namely, it was clear that having our own OSTF commitment locally dramatically increased our chances of being realistically eligible to get a pieces of those bigger regional funds, particularly at the state level. Luckily the community agreed by referendum and the commissioners prudently set the rate at a very modest level. That got us in the game and for the first time in recent memory we began our success at capturing the external monies, as was promised by the authors of the referendum that the voters passed. The referendum and subsequent successful grant processes took serious effort and initiative. You don't have to take my word for if you don't want to, but why would you look to trivialize the hard core efforts of some of our most dedicated volunteers? These are citizens of the year and Driscoll awardees and we are blessed to have them working hard for us.
Jim February 26, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Bill the Bancroft was not the BOE project they[ BOE] came in later with the Borough Commissioners. The Commissioners change the zoning to a redevelopment zone not BOE. Lee Albright has not been involved in obtaining any grants. You have no special examples of that fact. Lee has bullied her thoughts and opinions to applicant to the HPC which she was a member and now President of .Lee propose the extra open space taxes on top of the county taxes we already. paid.. We did not have any open space when that tax was implemented just another way to raise the Borough taxes. She is a No Vote . She will raise taxes and bully citizens like she did as Board Member of the HPC.. Bill you want your friends as commissioners who will continue to do the same as the old commissioners no changes just tax and spend .Why don':t you come up with some new ideas to lower the Taxes in NJ versus the status quo which we can not afford in the future
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Jim, you are missing some very essential and key details and advantages of us having an OSTF. This was designed to help is recapture monies far in excess of what we invest. Please read my latest response above to Nancy for some of that information. Additionally, this type of investment is mostly just that, investment and not spending in hard non-depreciating land assets for the perpetual use and enjoyment of generations to come. This is just one issue but on a broader basis, rather than rush to label someone who works so hard for you in a negative manner, perhaps a more prudent approach would be to educate yourself in a more productive and positive ways about what Lee and the other candidates actually stand for between now and the election.
Nancy February 26, 2013 at 02:39 PM
You don't need to get so defensive. Fact checking is acceptable is it not? My understanding was that it in order to get state Green Acres funds, we needed our own open space fund so I am thankful of that. I am just surprised that our commissioners didn't seem to know this. Does this mean Lee supports using open space funds for artificial turf fields?
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 03:00 PM
I apologize if it sounded defensive Nancy. Perhaps I misinterpreted your comments as trivializing the hard work it took. Such is the difficulty with not speaking directly in person. For whatever reason, the past four commissioners have not exhibited a very convincing commitment to obtaining open space for public use. These are all dedicated folks but quite candidly, I have always seen not much more than lip service paid to this noble and forward looking endeavor. To answer your first question, no, there were no attempts by the commissioners to create these mechanisms and it was entirely a citizen led effort at each and every turn over time as far as I am aware. If this is not 100% true, it is pretty close. Of course these projects did require the cooperation of the Commissioners but so far they have not cooperated with the creation of an open space trust fund citizen advisory board. I would be surprised though if it is not created after the election, especially now that Bancroft has gone away as a use for such funds. Lastly, no, Lee would not generally be in favor of buying turf with trust funds rather than hard perpetually useful parkland assets. But Perhaps some small percentage of such funds may eventually be used for recreational aspects of open space.
Jim February 26, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Bill Lee actions and word are public record so I can not see voting for another tax and spend candidate. Raising more taxes make no sense but changing the NJ tax system does. Removing Union scale wage and million dollar pensions and very high health benefits cost the tax payers billions of added tax dollars and Makes NJ less competitive to the other 49 states and other International companies. Bill do you know that NJ is 49 th in ranking as being a tax friendly state to attract new businesses and residents to the State. . You are saying keep the same polices in place and Vote in the same candidate who will be status quo, tax and spend. Bill If your taxes are $12000 now look in 10-12 years and you will be over $24,000 what does that does to Your value of Your property. When taxes affect every day cost of living and reduce you over new worth you know NJ has gone to far for several years of tax policies. Look how to save Billions in Taxes not just increase that same way as the past 20 years Bill do have any new real ideas .
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 03:11 PM
Nope. I'm not the guy to solve the state level problems and that is beyond the scope of this conversation or the pay grade of the Borough Commission unfortunately. If you want to continue to erroneously label such a special person as a tax a spender who figured out how to get us more of our money back to actually use here, go right ahead. Saying it does not make it accurate though....
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 03:18 PM
By the way, Jim and Nancy, what are your last names? It is going to be kind of tough introducing myself if we meet in person in town seeing as there are probably a few hundred people here with those names. The beauty of a small town and cordial civic discourse is lost in this medium if we are unable to know who we are communicating with.
Nancy February 26, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Bill like many I choose to remain anonymous. I respect your willingness to put yourself out there. I don't have the temperament for it. Can you clarify if you know, did Lee support Bancroft and the grants from the state and county that were going to be used for artificial turf? My problem with open space advocates is they are too myopic. State law provides for the acquisition and development of open space for both passive and active recreation. I cannot support anyone that does not support a balanced approach to open space tax spending.
Walter Weidenbacher February 26, 2013 at 03:41 PM
My point is pretty relevant, thank you, Bill, your conditions notwithstanding. Yes, the initiative was a multifaceted question, but, as distilled by the initiators to the yes/no vote that it WAS (and it was what it was), that ship did NOT sail; it sank, you might recall. And, it's hardly narrow-minded (look it up, Bill) for voters to take note when a candidate appears to have tilted quixotically toward seeing a decidedly bad deal as a good deal. And, anyway, I said that would be my FIRST question. We all have more, I would hope. Walter
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 03:44 PM
Lee is anything but myopic. She has worked on a wide array of activities during her long and active volunteer career on our behalf. On the Civic Association Board Of Governors as the most active officer, she for years had her hand in every committee from education to resident access of videos of public meetings and other municipal affairs issues. The topic being discussed here is just one of her many dimensions. I know Lee to be supportive of both active and passive public recreation use and a balanced approach. Most open space advocates who I have worked with in town also share that view. Neither active or passive uses should crowd out or take a back seat to the other. Historically they have naturally been logical allies. Here is the problem though. The main thing is to get control of new public lands FIRST with these funds. If you never get the land, the discussions of what to do with the land never gets to happen. If you get the land and grass part or most of it or turf it etc, that is a debate to be had later, once you actually have the land. That is the point when you are talking about grant and trust funds that are new. It is about the obvious need for sequencing to handle the fundamental basics first.
Walter Weidenbacher February 26, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Yeah, Jim and Nancy. Tell Bill your last names so he can tender (oxymoronic pun intended) pungent observations about you personally, like that what you say is "narrow-minded" or doesn't meet his definition of "relevance." Y'know, so that we can maintain Bill's definition of "cordial civic discourse." But don't forget, once your secret is out, everybody knows what a fool you are in the eyes of some.
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Walter, the issue I am referring to is not just in response to your comments. Several folks have implied that this election is primarily or almost exclusively about Bancroft. Maybe that is not you but that would be a narrow minded approach in my opinion and would ignore the total body or work or other pertinent features that candidates may have to offer. And yes, I do firmly believe that anonymity is the downfall of the PATCH medium for a number of previously discussed reasons. Who would ever have thought that Haddonfieldtalks is the most reasonable electronic venue that we would have. But right now, that is the case.
Joanne February 26, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Lets not forget where she stood on Brandywine that would give the elderly of our community better living condition and Haddonfield a tax revenue
Paul H February 26, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Yes Bill, I do think the Bancroft decision is something of a litmus test, maybe not perfect, buy still a reasonable indication of a candidate's fiscal direction. Bancroft, for me was just not about purchasing an overpriced property, but more importantly about handing over this responsibility to the BOE and its politically charged president. Few of us knew what grand plan was envisioned, although we always suspected there was one. None of us knew what the downstream costs would be. Yes, it was irresponsible to advocate for such a pig in a poke. And I'm not certain, though you seem to be, that all of the current candidates supported the acquisition. I am holding out and hoping that other candidates will come forward before the March 15th deadline.
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Actually Joanne, let us be careful here. She, like most folks who objected to Brandywine's specific proposal, were ALL FOR an improved facility. The use and concept of an expansion was not the issue at all. This issue was about the extreme increase in scale of it and that was about profits. Even though what was approved was still an excessively large increase in the eyes of many, you can thank Lee and others for making sure that at least some of the requested design and scale considerations were taken into account. These enhancements would never have happened without their involvement and thus a better result is going to be enjoyed by the community and neighborhood for many decades to come. If you don't want to thank those folks for that, that's up to you. But criticizing them for doing their jobs well is not appropriate under these factual circumstances.
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Downstream costs would never happen without the community deciding by bond referendum that that is something that they wanted. People keep bringing that up, but these are the facts. There is no other way it can fund such things and the 2% operating budget cap further ensures this. So there goes that fear of a politically charged president leading us all to financial ruin. It is not going to happen. Some fields, parking and parkland now, and some flexibility for future decades just in case. That is what it was about, nothing more. It's over though and was a BOE issue.
Joanne February 26, 2013 at 10:24 PM
I'm sorry Bill I have to say I respectfully disagree with you. As I see it, Brandywine went down as petty and a total disregard for the residents of the facility and a not in my neighborhood issue.
Bill Tourtellotte February 26, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Yes. We do totally and absolutely disagree. In speaking with the neighbors and the HPC, I never got the impression at all that they were against the proposal to rebuild and improve the facility. It was about the initial plans to nearly double the size of the thing. Bear in mind that this was in a single family residential neighborhood as well as in the historic district. The HPC appropriately was looking to reasonably manage the impact upon the neighborhood and was at least partially successful in obtaining some positive design changes to reduce the box effect and deal with some of the parking concerns. And if this was really about the residents of the facility, Brandywine would not have thrown the residents out of the property and closed it down so dramatically far in advance of starting construction or even having the requisite approvals. The residents lost their homes late in their lives way, way sooner than was necessary and people lost their jobs there as well. This excessive massing that was the subject of concern was all about maximization of profits by getting as much density on that site as possible. As a commercial real estate professional, I am telling you that this is a clear fact of what this was about. Profit maximization, and not about people as you have suggested.
PJ February 27, 2013 at 03:08 AM
I'm confused, are you for or against Lee Albright?
Jim February 27, 2013 at 03:14 AM
We should not elect commissioners if it is above their pay grade to know how to lower taxes and come up with a way to change how we fund pension health benefits and stop using union wage for public projects. The problems are not just on the State level but Local, County plus the State and all the Mayor should be pro active at all levels not just locally to add value to each citizen and maximize the benefits with out going into more debt. and higher taxes. Use the private sector as an example not the public sector that has over 30 trillion dollars in public debt not counting pension benefits and other health benefit obligations. Bill use these ideas on all levels to make the USA better not just be satisfied by status quo and kicking the can down the road. Bill,thank your input for but use your Vote to make Haddonfield better.
Susan Hoch MD February 27, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Bill, I appreciate your bringing this information about Lee to the attention of Patch readers. I don't know much about Lee and have an open mind about her and am delighted to hear about her involvement in the open space trust fund. Can you let us know a little more about this? Specifically, do you recall what year she began getting the grants for the town?
James F. Conway February 27, 2013 at 03:37 PM
To Walter & Jim - All of the candidates for commissioner voted in favor of the Bancroft purchase. So too did every living former mayor. Of the 4,520 votes cast the difference was about 250 or 5% - not exactly an overwhelming majority. The notion that borough commissioners can change policies such as state pension funding or the use of prevailing wage simply does not reflect reality. However, just in case I'm mistaken, please give us some concrete examples of a local official can impact these issues including taxes in any meaningful way. Regarding the election - since all the commissioner candidates voted for Bancroft, for whom will you vote or do you sit this one out ?
Jim March 01, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Answer move to a tax friendly state

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