Two Fighting for one Cranford Committee Seat
June primary will set up November election that could shift the balance of power on the township's governing body.
The June Primary Election will be uncontested in Cranford with only one member from each political party seeking election to the Township Committee.
Former Republican Township Commissioner Scott Mease and Democrat Thomas Hannen Jr. are both seeking election to the single seat that will be up for grabs in the November election. Republican Mayor David Robinson's term is set to expire at the end of the year, but after nearly six years on the dias, he has chosen not to seek re-election.
"It has been a pleasure to serve, but after six years, I have decided to take a break," Robinson said, adding that he also wants to dedicate more time to his family.
The outcome of the November election will determine the balance of power on the Township Committee. Currently, the governing body is made up of three Republicans - Robinson and new members Andis Kalnins and Lisa Adubato Nesi, as well as two Democrats - Edward O'Malley and Kevin Campbell. If Hannen wins a spot on the committee, the Democrats will again have control of the Township Committee.
Hannen, who ran unsuccessfully alongside former Mayor Daniel Aschenbach last year, has been involved in the Flood Advisory Committee as well as several other township organizations.
"In short, I feel I have something to bring to the table to help our town. My experience in business and involvement at various levels of politics has given me valuable insight and knowledge which I can employ to find solutions for what our town faces," Hannen said. "As a long-time resident I have had the opportunity to interact with many fellow residents, business owners, and visitors to our wonderful town. This has provided me with a well-developed sense of the local, community-oriented values that attract so many to this town. To be on the Township Committee would afford me the opportunity to further guide and assist in these projects and ensure that our community values are reflected in the Township’s policies and ordinances."
Hannen has been involved in politics for several years. He spent 12 years as a councilman in Winfield, four of them as the mayor.
Mease is a former township commissioner. He ran for Township Committee 10 years ago in 2002 and served from 2003 through 2005.
"I was the commissioner of Engineering and Public Works all three of my years. After TC I continued to serve on the Towns Grievance Committee and the Town Pool Board. I was also on the Flood Committee," Mease said. "I co-chaired the Cranford Halloween Parade until last year and served as the president of the Trustees at the First Presbyterian Church of Cranford for three years."
Mease said he has been asked to run several times in the past.
"This year I decided to screen," the 56-year-old mechanical engineer said. "Currently, I have a lull in my volunteer activity, so I considered my candidacy. After being encouraged by the Cranford Republican Committee and my wife Robin, I decided to accept the nomination."
Mease was one of several residents whose home sustained heavy damage as a result of Hurricane Irene. As a result, he has an especially strong interest in flood control efforts.
"I am a mechanical engineer and feel I can help the committee with Capital Projects and Flood Control. We live on the (Rahway) river and have just moved back into our house after it was damaged by Irene," Mease said, adding that knowing the township staff and their processes will make it easier for him "to get back on board, and help the committee make decisions that are best for the town."
Hannen said his platform this year will be similar to last year's election, but with a fresh perspective.
"The difference is the opportunity that I have to offer new solutions, a fresh view, and new insights into the hurdles that we must overcome. Cranford has been constrained financially by the economic shortfalls of the past few years. We must address the budgetary constraints that exist and find additional solutions to more efficiently run the township while providing effective services to the residents and businesses," Hannen said.
Hannen said the township needs to further explore fthe possibilities of shared services with other towns to offset some costs and streamline the workings of the township.
"My objective is to ensure that service levels are aligned to the needs of the township as well as with the values of the community," he said.
Like Mease, Hannen said he is also making flood control a priority.
"We have experienced three major floods in the past 12 years that have cost the town’s residents and businesses millions of dollars in addition to the personal and emotional costs. Progress needs to be made on ways that we can alleviate the flooding itself, as well as minimize damage in the event of another flood," Hannen said.
Hannen said his campaign will also focus on the contentious Birchwood Avenue development issue.
"The residents of Cranford must be assured that the township committee stands to do everything in its power to avert this pending disaster of over-development," Hannen said. "That means taking extraordinary steps to communicate and put in place the legal representation that will give us the best chance to prevail. It is imperative that the Township Committee act as advocates for the local residents who overwhelmingly oppose such development."