Shelly L. Bell: Connecting Montgomery, Protecting Montgomery, Preserving Montgomery

Montgomery Democratic Organization Endorses Shelly L. Bell as 2020 Township Committee Candidate

The Montgomery Democratic Organization endorses Shelly L. Bell as our 2020 candidate for Township Committee. Ms. Bell serves Montgomery and Somerset County in many capacities. Her experience on the Montgomery Township Planning Board, the One Montgomery Committee, and as Vice-President of the Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women, as well as the training she received through the Leadership Somerset program, make her well prepared to serve on the Montgomery Township Committee.

The 2020 elections will take place on November 3. This year’s general election will be primarily vote by mail in New Jersey. Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters in early October. The Montgomery Democratic Organization urges voters to vote Democrat down the line and return their ballots as soon as possible either by mail, to one of the secure ballot boxes throughout Somerset County, in person to the Board of Elections, or at a polling location on Election Day. If you have questions, concerns, suggestions or simply want to get involved please reach out to us and vote local!

If you’d like to support her campaign, please send a check to: Bell for Township Committee, P.O. Box 282, 950 Rout 601, Skillman NJ 08558

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Shelly L. Bell Biography

Shelly L. Bell has extensive experience in politics and government specializing in constituent relations, legislative affairs, and leadership development. She has more than ten years of experience working with federal, state, and local government affairs. Her service to New Jersey includes working with Assemblyman Craig Stanley, former chair of the Joint Committee on Public Schools for the New Jersey State Legislature. In her work for the 28th Legislative District, she enhanced dialogue among New Jersey State legislators on “big picture” issues regarding appropriations, tuition, and the impact of legislative decisions on affordability and access. 

Born and raised in a family who believes in the practice of serving others, Ms. Bell has worked as outreach coordinator for the Citizens Campaign, where she educated and trained Newark residents by providing tools, resources, and confidence needed to navigate government. Shelly currently serves as Vice-Chair for Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women and is a member of the Montgomery Township Planning Board and One Montgomery Committee. She is also a trustee for the Fellowship Deaconry, active member of Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) – New Jersey Chapter, an international organization that helps women further their education by providing scholarships, grants, awards, and loans. Shelly also serves as a spiritual growth leader at her church.

Shelly understands the value of embracing those from various countries around the world and the benefits of having a diverse community. She has accumulated many frequent flyer miles by counseling and empowering refugee women to live their best lives in Swaziland, South Africa, and Greece. Additionally, she has provided supplies as well as fabric and sewing machines for urban refugee women as part of the Hope Partners Africa initiative. She is the recipient of Rutgers School of Social Work New Jersey Family Development Credential, earned her B. A. in Psychology and M.A. in Marriage & Family Counseling from Pillar College.

Shelly L. Bell Campaign Platform

Connecting Montgomery, Protecting Montgomery, Preserving Montgomery

I. Connecting Montgomery

Goal 1: In a post COVID-19 world, improve connections between community members and municipal government. Provide enhanced services to the public.

Shelly’s experience:

  • In 2019, Shelly worked with Mayor Jaffer to organize a community breakfast after an anti-Semitic attack in Jersey City. Speakers included Montgomery Township Police Director Captain Tom Wain, Deputy Mayor Marvin Schuldiner, and a representative from the United Nations. The municipal court was packed, and many people expressed their appreciation for having a space to mourn and connect with each other.

Related Township accomplishments with Democratic majority leadership:

  • Established the Montgomery Together initiative [https://montgomerytogether.us/], a cooperative effort of the municipality and schools to provide information and connection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Regular communications with daily COVID-19 updates and posting of regular mayor’s videos to inform the public during the public health emergency.
  • COVID-19 Community Forum with participation from the School District, Board of Education and Board of Health, in addition to various municipal departments: [https://montgomerynj.swagit.com/play/05192020-1936]
  • Organized Town Halls on Municipal Building project and Township Master Plan.
  • Establishment of a communications ad hoc committee with members of the public to inform and direct the Township’s communications strategy.

Goal 2: Ensure we are actively anti-racist is all the services provided by the municipality.

Shelly’s Experience:

  • As a part of the One Montgomery committee, Shelly proposed and helped Montgomery Township organize a Juneteenth event via ZOOM. She invited her mentor Speaker Assemblyman Craig Stanley to speak. Assemblyman Stanley was instrumental in introducing legislation to mandate African American history be taught to all New Jersey students. This event was very well attended and was the first Juneteenth event celebrated by Montgomery Township. 

Related Township accomplishments with Democratic majority leadership:

  • Active participation and support for contemporary movements to combat anti-Black racism in our institutions and society, including a formal resolution condemning all acts of racism and racist violence[1] and declaring racism as a public health crisis.[2]
  • Establishment of the Montgomery Mosaic initiative, which held a “Montgomery Speaks Out Against Racism” event and candle lighting ceremony. This initiative has examined such topics as anti-immigrant violence, information on Police Department training to serve special needs community members, as well as informational sessions on African American history and Native American history as well as intercultural holiday events and interfaith services.

II. Protecting Montgomery

Goal: Keep Montgomery residents healthy and safe, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

Shelly’s Experience:

Shelly recently completed her master’s degree in counseling, and her background as a mental healthcare makes her attuned and passionate to address the community’s mental health needs. She will work to ensure that community members have access to the services they need and is especially interested in coordinating with the school district to address the needs of children in our community.

Related Township accomplishments with Democratic majority leadership:

  • Low rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths compared to other municipalities in New Jersey.[3]
  • National accreditation of our health department by the Public Health Advisory Board (PHAB),[4] commendation letter from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • Ranked as one of the safest cities in New Jersey by the National Council for Home Safety and Security.[5]
  • Organized a cooperative session on Police training to interact with and serve special needs community members.[6]

III. Preserving Montgomery

Goal: Ensuring that we preserve our environment as we move forward:

Shelly’s Experience:

Shelly serves on the Montgomery Township Planning Board. She greatly values Montgomery’s beautiful green and serene environment. She is dedicated to supporting the Environmental Commission in implementing their plans and initiatives.

Related Township accomplishments with Democratic majority leadership:

  • Preservation of over one hundred acres of open space.
  • Supporting Environmental Commission’s focus on green infrastructure planning.

Delivering Our Promises: Democratic Accomplishments 2019-2020

In January of 2019, we set out a platform for the Democratic majority focused on improved communications, increased transparency, and a commitment to fostering the values of diversity and inclusion. We did not anticipate a pandemic but have navigated that as well. Here are our accomplishments.

COVID-19 Response

  • Expertly guiding the Township through the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic by working closely with the elected officials and staff, particularly the Health Department. The Montgomery Township Health Department recently received five-year accreditation status from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the continuous quality improvement of Tribal, state, local, and territorial public health departments, and a commendation letter from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Communications Improvements

  • Developed and implemented a Crisis Communications Plan in response to the COVID-19 emergency including regular emails, mayor’s videos and the creation of the Montgomery Together website and platform.
  • Made payments to programs like the Food Pantry streamlined through the website.
  • Evaluated and improved Montgomery Township Communications, including establishing an ad hoc Communications Committee to solicit feedback from residents and draw on the expertise of local communications and marketing professionals.
  • Strengthened the communications between the Township Committee and the School District and Board of Education.

Transparency Initiatives

  • Reinstated the Budget and Finance Advisory Community (BFAC) to involve the community members in fiscal decisions.  
  • Hosted a town hall about the new municipal building and incorporated resident feedback into the design of the building. Brought together members of the Planning Board, Zoning Board, Shade Tree Committee, and Environmental Commission to consult on design.
  • Hosted a town hall about the Master Plan in order to educate the public about our municipal planning process.
  • Hosted a Town Hall on COVID-19 response.
  • Hosted a Town Hall for local businesses on navigating the COVID-19.
  • Reinstated regular Mayor’s office hours, which had not been offered in years.

Diversity and Inclusion Prioritization

  • Started the Montgomery Mosaic initiative to combat prejudice and build connections in the Township.
  • The first municipality in New Jersey to pass a resolution against family separation and migrant detention.[7]
  • Have hosted sessions on combatting anti-Black racism, anti-immigrant violence, and anti-Semitism as well as intercultural holiday events, and community building breakfasts.
  • Improved representation of women on important Township boards. Increased from no women appointed from the public to the Planning Board in 2018 under Republican control to 2/9 appointed members of the Planning Board being women in 2020.
  • Similarly went from no women appointed to the Zoning board in 2018 under Republican control to 3/11 members of the Zoning Board being women in 2020.
  • Improved from one racial minority appointed from the public to the Planning Board in 2018 under Republican control to 3/9 appointed members of the Planning Board being racial minorities with two Black appointees serving in 2020.

Footnotes

[1] https://twp.montgomery.nj.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/6-04-20_Montgomery-Township-Committee-Resolution.pdf

[2] https://health.montgomery.nj.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RESOLUTION-RACISM-IS-A-PUBLIC-HEALTH-CRISIS_7-02-20.pdf

[3] http://mayorkramer.com/files/franklinCompare0525.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3RiYzu4WznDHQ-fpSRcNme-I1kLilRlpuYurnsEAU33ZX5WwYXXNRRMBQ

[4] http://www.prweb.com/releases/public_health_accreditation_board_s_rigorous_national_standards_now_benefiting_82_percent_of_u_s_population/prweb17027287.htm

[5] https://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-cities-new-jersey/

[6] https://twp.montgomery.nj.us/9-11-calls-and-persons-with-special-needs/

[7] https://www.nj.com/somerset/2019/12/diverse-nj-town-is-the-first-to-oppose-detention-of-immigrants-more-may-follow.html