CHATHAM, NJ - When Kevin Tubbs resigned from the Chatham Township Committee in April 2012, Karen Swartz put her name in to replace him. The fact that someone else was selected to fill the vacancy made her want the position even more.
Swartz made that clear on Thursday night when she held a fundraiser at Charlie Brown's Restaurant to kick off her campaign to win one of the two open seats on the Chatham Township Committee in November.
"I was more disappointed than I thought I would have been for being passed over for the appointment, which made me realize I wanted a more active role in our local government," Swartz said.
Swartz, 53, is competing with incumbent Kathy Abbott, as well as Michael Kelly and Peter Fico in the race for two seats on the Chatham Township Committee. Since the Republicans will run unopposed in November, the real election will take place during the June 3 primary when two of the candidates will be selected to represent their party.
Abbott is the only incumbent up for reelection among the four. The other seat is currently held by Bailey Brower, Jr., who has decided not to run for reelection.
"I have lived here for almost 25 years," Swartz said. "My husband and I have raised our kids here and we have been the beneficiary of so much hard work from other devoted township residents and public officials. They've done a lot of the heavy lifting. Now it's time to get in with both feet. I love Chatham Township. Now is my time to get in and be part of the process that creates our legislation."
Swartz, a current member of the township planning board, has received endorsements from current members of the township committee, Mayor Kevin Sullivan, Deputy Mayor Curt Ritter and Brower. All were in attendance at the fundraiser.
"I think Karen is a tremendous candidate for township committee," Ritter said. "She represents true Republican values, low taxes, less government, property rights and less regulation. She has great experience in serving the planning board and community related activities. She will be a great candidate and a great person to represent Chatham Township on the committee."
Mayor Sullivan couldn't help but notice the enthusiasm Swartz has shown to serve the public.
"I've known her in the community for a long time," Sullivan said. "I'm excited for her. She brings a certain sense of energy and excitement. She's passionate about the town. She gets what Chatham is all about. She's very level-headed and I think she's guided by principles: The notion of fiscal responsibility and property rights. Those are the things that resonate with her. She brings a certain level of common sense to the issues we face today."
Three of the "Yarmouth Girls" from Swartz's neighborhood, Sherri Dunne, Joan Mogevang and Sheila Collier came out to show their support.
"I've known her for 25 years and I think she is going to be an excellent candidate for the township committee because she really cares about people," Dunne said. "She is going to be the voice of Chatham."
Now that her children, Kathleen Swartz, a graduate of Gettysburg College, and senior Kurt Swartz, who is headed to Wake Forest, are young adults, Swartz says the timing is right for her to get involved.
"She comes from a family that was a civic-minded family," Swartz's husband, Craig, said.