BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Both Bernards Township Committee members wrapping up their first terms have decided against seeking re-election this year, including Democrat Joan Bannan _ who make history as the first Democrat elected to the governing body in 2019 _ and Republican Joseph Esposito. Esposito is this year's deputy mayor.

With both incumbents bowing out, Bernards Township voters will see four new candidates on the June 8 primary election, although Democrat Sophia Chadda has previously sought election.

There will be a full slate of candidates, two Republicans and two Democrats, to be listed on the primary ballot for the two three-year terms that will begin in January, 2020. The candidates are uncontested in the primary election, but would face off against each other in the November general election.

The candidates who have filed to represent their parties in November are:

Republican - Jennifer Asay, 71 Butternut Lane, Basking Ridge
Republican - Andrew McNally, 195 W. Oak St., Basking Ridge

Democrat - Sophia Chadda, 6 Carnegie Pl., Basking Ridge
Democrat  - Jessica Simpson-Cook, 30 Baldwin Ct., Basking Ridge

Commenting on her two-plus years on the Township Committee, Bannan said she has enjoyed her time on the governing body, "I met so many great people," she said, saying of the the staff that works at town hall, "They are all top notch." 

Although at times there have been public disagreements, Bannan said that the Republican members of the Township Committee have been "cordial" in working with her.

The creation of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee launched this year was a "huge accomplishment," achieved by the work of many, she said. Bannan said she believes the new committee will outlast her time on the Township Committee because the group with the goal of celebrating the township's diversity has gained much public support. "We had more applications for people to be on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee than we had spots," she said.

Bannan said that COVID-19 has been a reminder that, "Time is limited," and there are many other things she wants to put her energy into, along with a full-time career as an attorney and spending time as a mother and grandmother.

Esposito was not available for comment at this time.