Letter to the Editor

Setting the Record Straight on the Debate


In a letter to the editor dated October 23, 2015, my opponent (Bill Cerra) continues to make wild, outlandish and completely misleading statements about my record and has created this saga about his request for a live debate.


Mr. Cerra claims that I at first agreed to a live debate and then backed out. Let me be crystal clear, this is not true. I have said all along that I am willing, able and eager to debate Mr. Cerra but the one stipulation I have is that the Council at Large candidates should debate as well. I am running as a team with Anita Greenberg-Belli, Debbie Walker and Brian Cahill and the voters of Old Bridge should have an opportunity to hear from all of the candidates for these very important Township-wide elections. Additionally, since the Democratic At Large candidates didn't even show up for the Directions 2015 taping which is airing on OBTV, I think it is only fair that our Republican candidates have an opportunity to debate the Democrats to compare and contrast positions and their direction for Old Bridge. According to the Democrats media consultant Frank Cipolla, in an email to the Republican Chair Art Haney, the Democrats have "declined" to debate.


Mr. Cerra, my team and I remain ready, willing and able to talk about our record and our vision for the town, the ball is in your court, for the record. Mr. Cerra claims that my administration didn't inherit a $7M budget deficit in 2012; using a report from Fitch Ratings Service that he says shows we had a budget surplus. Mr. Cerra, the alleged budget surplus you are referring to is called a "Fund Balance" and it is a State of New Jersey budgeting mechanism that forces municipalities to set aside Revenues that roll into the next fiscal year. This accounting practice happens every year and has NOTHING to do with whether a township has a surplus or not. Here are the facts. In 2011, then Mayor Phillips worked out a deal to sell 300 acres of Township land to the OBMUA for $5.6M. Additionally, he took another $1.4M of OBMUA money using a State provision that allows Municipalities to take 5% of an authority's budget. This money was used to plug a budget gap; it was a one-shot infusion of revenue with no recurring benefit. Thus the $7M deficit I inherited. Your continued claim only proves you know nothing about municipal finances and do not know to read a budget document.


Mr. Cerra's claims about layoffs are based on a lie. The facts are that the PBA was in arbitration under the Phillips administration. Mayor Phillips even wrote a letter stating that if the PBA receives the award they are looking for, he (Phillips) will lay off 31 police officers. The arbitration award came down after I took office and forced us the township to absorb an additional $850,000 of which we didn't have. Unfortunately, we did have to layoff police officers and I vowed that we would get our finances in order to bring those officers back and keep them back. All positions are now fully funded, and because we have stabilized our finances, we have hired additional police officers for the first time since 2006. I kept my promise.


Mr. Cerra sarcastically refers to me as our "businessman" Mayor. He correctly points out that while a member of the Planning Board, I voted against the Wal-Mart application and I was proud to do it, here is why. I voted against the Wal-Mart application because I wanted to see more off-site road and infrastructure improvements for our residents who live around the Wal-Mart complex, something that would have benefited the Township immeasurably. I am a pro-business Mayor; I have cut over 24 ribbons on new businesses in this town and hired a full time economic development director. Any future growth needs to be smart growth and I am actively seeking and have successfully attracted more clean ratables to our town.

Mr. Cerra, my campaign has been one of results, vision, optimism and leadership. Your campaign has been one of negative attacks, mud-slinging and mistruths. The residents of Old Bridge deserve better.


Mayor Owen Henry
Old Bridge Township


Old Bridge Democrat Council At Large Candidates Refuse to Debate

PRESS RELEASE  October 14, 2015

Despite repeated requests for a live, televised, unscripted Council at Large Candidate debate to be aired on Old Bridge Television, the Old Bridge Democrat Council Candidates have “declined” according to an email from their media consultant Frank Cipolla.  Mr. Cipolla notified Arthur Haney, Old Bridge Republican Chair via email regarding the Republicans repeated requests for a live debate; “I once again inquired about whether the Democrat candidates would agree to a live debate with the current council members.  They declined.”  “We have been very clear with the Democrats that all of our candidates are willing debate, to compare and contrast our campaigns and views on how we feel we can better serve the residents of Old Bridge.  The Democrats are insisting on a Mayoral Debate which is fine, but we insist that our At Large Candidates also have an opportunity to debate the other side so voters have a clear choice come November 3rd” said Haney.


Council President and candidate Debbie Walker said “It is unfortunate that the Democrats won’t debate us.  We have a proven track record and are willing to discuss our ideas about the future of Old Bridge.   I haven’t heard any ideas from their side, just silly attacks.”  “The voters of Old Bridge deserve to know the positions of all of the At Large candidates.  Our positions have been consistent; fiscal responsibility, improved services, a commitment to public safety and reinvesting millions into our roads and infrastructure.  We have a plan, what’s theirs?” said Councilman and candidate Brian Cahill.  Dr. Anita Greenberg-Belli, a Republican candidate for council insisted “If you run for office and put yourself out there like I am doing, why wouldn’t you want to debate the issues?  I am confident in my ability to articulate my position as a first time candidate, why wouldn’t the Democrats?  I feel it is extremely important to be transparent to the residents and I feel the best way is to have the residents know your position, and what you stand for.”


 “The Old Bridge Republicans stand willing and ready to debate, and are looking forward to a free flow of ideas so the residents can make an informed decision on November 3rd.  However, we insist that Council At Large debates are scheduled and occur prior to the Mayoral debate so we can ensure all candidates’ positions can be heard and vetted.” said Haney.






For more information about this release, please contact Arthur Haney on 732-616-4395 or email him at


Stealing Signs


Reports coming in of individuals stealing and ripping down Republican signs. Obviously this is dirty politics and we condemn this type of behavior.