Meet Mayor Gattinelli

Joe Wozniak '19, Patriot staff writer

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Mayor Joann Gattinelli was elected in November 2016. As a Democrat, she first had to defeat incumbent, Mayor Barbara Wallace in the June Primary and then proceeded to defeat a Republican and an Independent in the general election. She was sworn into a 4 year term in January 2017. She shared with The Patriot her views on her new role in Washinton Township.

 

Q: Give us a quick biography about yourself.

A: I moved to Washington Township in 1979. I Graduated from W.T.H.S. in 1982 and I have continued living here since then. I worked in the Insurance Industry for 8 years. I married and had two boys. One Graduated from W.T.H.S. in 2014. Another is currently a senior. I have co-owned Gattinelli’s Pizza and Pasta from 2004 until we sold it in 2015.  I ran the business’ finances and did all the book work. I belong to the Wedgewood Women’s Clubs and attended a few Rotary Meetings. I’m trying to become mmore involved by joining civic organizations in the Township.

 

Q: Why did you run for Mayor?

A:I have lived in Washington Township for a long time and I felt things could be better. I felt there needed to be a change in Municipal Government

 

Q: What is your favorite thing about Washington Township?

A: There is a strong sense of community. We have a small town feel despite the fact we are one of the largest towns in South Jersey. As a business owner, I have met a lot of wonderful people.

 

Q: Did you ever imagine yourself having a career in politics?

A: I didn’t even consider the idea until last year. I got to meet people and hear their concerns.  I have always wanted to be involved in public service. I would be happy with a career in politics for the rest of my life.

 

Q: Who is your hero, and why?

A: My hero has to be my dad. I come from a close-knit Irish-Catholic family who raised 5 children on one income. My dad raised my family and I to be good upstanding citizens in our community and to be independent.  His parenting method was based on the idea that being close to your family would help your children become good, productive and honest members of society.

 

Q: Washington Twp. has a commerical real estate vacancy rate of 30%, according to the Business Administrator. What will you do to fix that?

A: Finding the root of the problem is priority, which includes asking the real estate developers and owners why they can’t attract tenants. I want to make Washington Twp. a friendlier place for businesses of all kinds, from “Mom and Pop” Shops to Big Box Stores.  I’m working directly with the Economic Development Team to find pragmatic solutions to this problem. This can help retain and attract more businesses to our town.

 

Q: What are the main goals for your Administration?

A: One of the biggest goals of this Administration is to avoid any tax increases.We also want to be an open and transparent administration.  There needs to be better communication between residents and the municipal government. Finally, Economic Development is key. We want to clean up certain areas of towns, most notably the Black Horse Pike. We want to attract new businesses and build on our town’s successes.

 

Q: After the November Elections, Republicans Dana Pasqualone and Joseph Perry won two Democrat-held Council Seats. Flipping control of the Council to the Republicans. As a Democrat, how would you work with the Council Republican majority to get your agenda passed?

A:We want to work together and accomplish great things for our township in a bipartisan fashion. My Administration and Council want to move beyond petty partisan politics and actually produce results. Both my team and the Council have fresh new ideas to move Washington Township forward.

 

Q:According to NJ.com, Washington Township is the fourth fasting shrinking town in New Jersey.  Estimates from the census state that the town experienced a net loss of 1,500 residents from 2010 to 2015. As Mayor, what would you try to do to reverse that trend?

A: Our Goal is to make Washington Township friendlier for families by offering more activities at Washington Lake Park and elsewhere around town. We also want to make the township friendlier to businesses, and push the concept of “Buy Local, Spend Local” to residents. To help our businesses. Providing more amenities will give people a reason to stay or move here.

 

Q: For attracting new businesses and residents, how would you make Washington Twp. a better alternative to other large towns such as Cherry Hill, Voorhees and Marlton?

A: Demographics and location make Washington Township is an ideal town in which to run a business and live. We are one of the largest town’s in the area and are the midpoint between Philadelphia and the Shore Points. The Black Horse Pike runs through the heart of the Township. We want to make sure that the businesses that are already in town, stay in town.

 

Q: You were a registered Republican until December 2015.   Why did you decide to switch parties?

I felt I was identifying more with being a Democrat.  I drifted away from the Republican Party and gravitated toward the Democrats.

 

Q: You are part of a long succession of Democratic Mayors in the Township, dating back from 2000. How would you be different?

A: I have a great respect for our Township’s previous Mayors but personally, I want to play a bigger role in the day to day management of the Departments. I want to be involved in the community. When I was running for Mayor, I listen edto people’s concerns and as Mayor now, I listen directly to the people and what issues they have. I have only been Mayor for about a month and a half and we are already finding solutions to make Washington Township a better place.

 

Q: What did you like and dislike about campaigning for mayor?

A: I liked that I got to know people of our Township better. While I was running for mayor and listening to people’s problems I got to hear their issues from a more personal perspective. I Enjoy going door-to-door. I did not like the “running” aspect of campaigning because I had to spend a lot of time away from my family; however it was a sacrifice I was willing to make to make Washington Township a better place.

 

Q: What would you say to any student considering a career in public service?

A: It’s a great idea. I recommend getting involved in your community.  Get involved around school, with your church, etc. Volunteering and community service are some of the greatest things a person can participate in. Students are our future and they are the future leaders of our World. I encourage studnets to stand up for what they believe in.  If students have new ideas and solutions for the township, they are welcome to contact my office and share their ideas with me any time.

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Meet Mayor Gattinelli