It All Gets Back to the Water in Jefferson Twp.

Russ Felter says that when he became mayor of Jefferson Township 20 years ago, he could tell where people lived by the color of their water.

Tints of brown, yellow, green – whatever – were each indicative of the section in town in which they resided.

That’s no longer the case.

Felter says that over the last 20 years, the township has arranged to buy water from a Morris County water utility and also has developed four municipal wells.

Township water is now clear.

“We’ve done a great job.” Felter says.

He’s not talking only about water. He says the township is in good shape and that he deserves to stay in office.

“If you talk to people in Jefferson, they like living here,” he says.

That view is about to be tested.

After two decades as mayor, Felter, who turns 59 in May, is being challenged in the June Republican primary by Eric Wilsusen, a former police officer and community activist.

Many cops are successful in politics, but besides rising to deputy chief in a 30-year career, Wilsusen also is active on many other fronts, including youth sport leagues and community organizations.

Felter acknowledges all that, but is confident the issues are with him.

In fact, he doesn’t think his opponent has many issues at all.

Wilsusen and two running-mates seeking council nominations are running on the slogan of a “New Vision” for Jefferson.

“When you don’t have a lot (of issues) to raise, you say you want change or a new vision,” Felter said.

However, Wilsusen has raised some issues. He wants the town to bolster its website and generally do a better job communicating  with the public.

He also says that the mayor and his administration are doing a poor job marketing the municipality. Wilsusen speaks of many “for rent” signs on commercial buildings around town and complains that the Route 15 site of a now-abandoned Pathmark has not been redeveloped.

About 75 to 80 percent of township land is in the Highlands preservation area. So redevelopment is vital.

Felter says the township is working with the owner of the Pathmark site, but revitalization is not easy. He notes that many in town want a food store, but admits that Jefferson doesn’t have the demographics to support, say, a Whole Foods market.

The mayor will campaign hard. He talks about going door-to-door and an upcoming boat trip fundraiser on Lake Hopatcong, part of which is in the township. He says he is confident of getting strong support from senior citizens, contending that the town is very receptive to their needs.

Getting back to redevelopment, Felter talks about improvements to a Route 15  commercial section anchored by the Jefferson Diner.

And he doesn’t buy his opponent’s argument that business is bad.

“If you drive around and look at the restaurants and marinas, they’re all adding on or expanding,” he said.

Additionally, he talked about plans to expand the trail system in town, including building a boardwalk to Liffy Island, which is in Lake Hopatcong.

The lake is the largest in the state and a well-known New Jersey tourist attraction.

So, as you can see, in Jefferson it all gets back to water.

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One response to “It All Gets Back to the Water in Jefferson Twp.”

  1. If he’s doing a great job as mayor how come alot of the old shacks that are eye sores around town still exists?? Trees that are in danger off falling on someone along BVR !! Etc dumping on tailor Rd as well!!!

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