JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – Jackson Township officials said they interviewed several different firms before awarding a no-bid contract to Brand Strategic Communications for public image and relations consulting. That contract, according to state law must remain under $40,000 annually. A cap was approved by the council at $60,000 annually.
This week, the township council was questioned over the need for such a service, especially during an election year of Mayor Michael Reina and Councilmen Andy Kern and Alex Sauickie.
“We want to put the township in a good light for people to see,” said Councilman Marty Flemming. “We’ve had many litigations at the town level and it would be nice to put a positive spin on the town.”
Dr. Sheldon Hoffstein noted that in addition to improving the reputation of the town, the public relations firm would also be improving the image of the township’s elected officials.
“People who are coming up for re-election if they wanted to run,” Hoffstein said. “You just don’t want to create the perception that public tax dollars are being used for part of their campaign.”
Flemming said, “It’s more important to put the town in a positive light to attract more business and stabilize our taxes.”
“I just think as you get closer to the election, there should be no perception by the people that you’re pumping yourself up,” Hoffstein said.
Hoffstein said the firm’s services should be suspended during ‘election season’ and that if candidates need a pr firm for their election, they can pay for it with their own campaign dollars.
“The town hasn’t had a good mechanism to respond against propaganda,” Alex Sauickie said.