Dear Residents of Washington Township,
I write this to you from Aruba, where I have been on vacation since Saturday with my wife and two dear friends. Before you conjure images of me sipping pina coladas in the sun while too many residents in town sit in cold, dark homes without power, let me assure you that I have not ceased working on your behalf even while I am out of town.
This vacation had been planned for eight months and, for many reasons, was not one that could be cancelled. Luckily it did not have to be cancelled, and I can continue to serve you from here.
The immediate leadership of Washington Township was left in the capable hands of Tracy Tobin and the other township committee members whom you have elected, and they are able to reach me if necessary. I continue to communicate with them as well as to reach out to JCP&L and other area leaders. I realize that there are people who will be dissatisfied with my efforts no matter what I do. I continue to serve those people tirelessly even as they malign me and personally insult my family and me. Their personal attacks do not make me work any harder or care any more than I already do; it’s simply not possible for me to work harder or care more.
There are hundreds of examples I could give to illustrate that so much of this was out of my control. If it were in my control, wouldn’t I have had power restored to my own home, the homes of my friends, my daughter’s house, my son’s business, the school where my grandchildren go?
Sandy wreaked absolute havoc throughout the state, and the job of restoring power has been overwhelming to the power companies. I have focused on preventing loss of life, doing what is possible to improve quality of life, and communicating with JCP&L so that they know what areas are out of power. I am in regular communication with members of Congress, other local mayors, and the Board of Public Utilities.
I wish that I could personally get each resident back on the grid, and I absolutely would if I could, but that is not within my power. I do not want to point fingers or make this any more negative than it already is. I want everyone to have their power restored. I want everyone to be warm and healthy and safe and secure. I want you to be proud to live in Washington Township.
Aside from quotes in articles, I do not have a regular presence on the Patch because I try to stay above the personal insults and blame game. I have tremendous respect for Jason Koestenblatt and the Patch team and believe that they do a great job of helping residents have their voices heard. I am grateful for that. I have spoken with Jason and his team often throughout the Sandy ordeal and trusted him to disseminate available information through his avenue. Additionally, I spoke several times at length on WRNJ to update people on the progress, or lack thereof, of the utility companies. I was also interviewed on 101.5 and National Public Radio. I believe that these methods of communication worked well. Further, all residents of town have access to my home address and phone number, and I spoke with hundreds, if not thousands, of people during and after the storm.
While I did not communicate through Twitter or Facebook as some suggested I should have, I assure you that I did communicate constantly and thoroughly. I regret that I have to spend any time defending myself. I would much rather continue to work to get power to those areas of town that are still dark and to help people get their lives back together and achieve some sense of normalcy.
Again, I see no value in pointing fingers. I realize that I open myself up to criticism by serving as an elected official. I continue to seek the opportunity to be a public servant although I am not paid anything for this work. It is my honor and privilege to serve the town where I have raised my family and where I can now watch my grandchildren grow up.
Let us rise to the challenge of maintaining our sanity in the midst of this insanity. Let us build one another up rather than break each other down. Let me thank you sincerely for your patience, your honesty, and your contributions to our town.
We are in this together.
With respect and gratitude,
Ken Short, Mayor