SWEDESBORO, N.J. – As a skilled entrepreneur turned state lawmaker, Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer understands the importance of face-to-face connections, so she brought everyone to the table – literally – at a recent event with local leaders from Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland counties and state agency officials. Her goal was to create an opportunity for the towns she represents to build relationships with those who administer programs that can benefit municipalities and address local concerns. And by all accounts, she succeeded.
“I want to amplify the voices of the towns I represent at the roundtable and give municipal leaders a chance to forge in-person relationships with other state leaders who can directly connect them to assistance programs. Bringing everyone together in the same room so they can interact, listen and learn from each other is so very impactful – even in today’s digital world – these types of opportunities are invaluable,” Sawyer (R-Gloucester) said. “This event wasn’t about politics; it was about building a bridge that will ultimately benefit South Jersey, no matter your party affiliation.”
Nearly 30 mayors, town council members and county leaders gathered with representatives from the Economic Development Authority, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Community Affairs, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and Department of Agriculture, to discuss everything from municipal state aid to brownfield remediation and agriculture mediation.
“Thoughtful questions were met with an immediate response from state representatives, which local leaders can then bring back to their communities,” Sawyer added.
The Economic Development Authority’s CEO, Tim Sullivan, discussed manufacturing in South Jersey and encouraged municipalities and business owners to apply for state programs to grow the economy. Participants also learned that every county in the state will soon have their own veteran service officer from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and veteran benefits information sessions will be hosted in the legislative district to better accommodate the needs of veterans.
New state regulations concerning the remediation of lead water lines and environmental standards as well as state assistance to help municipalities meet requirements were covered by DCA and DEP. Salem City Mayor Jody Veler discussed her experience working with the state to remediate several brownfields; and Jessica Doheny, the mayor of Wenonah, addressed the Glassboro-Camden rail line and the environmental and community concerns directly with the DEP.
“Great conversations allow us to learn from others’ successes and challenges. Like how our farming communities can quickly resolve disputes between municipalities and farm operators at no cost to either party. This information will help make us more effective public servants,” Sawyer said. “I am better equipped with the knowledge I need to fight for my constituents in Trenton and local leaders can more easily access resources. I look forward to hosting more roundtables in the future as local needs evolve and programs become available.”
Sawyer represents legislative district 3, which covers Salem and parts of Cumberland and Gloucester counties and the following municipalities: Alloway, Bridgeton, Carneys Point, Clayton, Deerfield, East Greenwich, Elk, Elmer, Elsinboro, Franklin (Gloucester), Glassboro, Greenwich (Gloucester), Logan, Lower Alloways Creek, Mannington, National Park, Newfield, Oldmans, Paulsboro, Penns Grove, Pennsville, Pilesgrove, Pittsgrove, Quinton, Salem, South Harrison, Swedesboro, Upper Deerfield, Upper Pittsgrove, West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Woodstown and Woolwich.