We have a choice in Cranford’s future, and your vote is your voice. For the first time in recent memory, we have a contested local Democratic Primary Election, with two candidates competing for the single seat on Township Committee which I currently hold. The support I have received from voters as I go door to door, online or when I see people around town has been tremendous, but since Cranford is not used to contested primaries, many people have had questions, so I wanted to pass along some notes on the issues at hand and how to make sure your vote counts on Tuesday, June 8th.
A Head to Head Contest - This election has two Democrats running for one seat on the committee. I’ve worked hard to serve our community, standing up to developers, speaking out against back-room politics, and always putting Cranford residents first. Unfortunately, this seems to have rubbed some local party bosses the wrong way, with them criticizing me as being “too independent”. Breaking with the tradition of holding an open and democratic candidate selection process, they declined to offer opportunities to screen before the municipal committee, instead placing another candidate on the main Democratic line in order to have me placed on the outskirts of the ballot (1). This is why you will find me at #14D, which has been a common question. You don’t have to vote for any full column though, you can pick your candidate of choice for each office, and I hope you will look for me at the bottom right on the voting machine or your Vote by Mail ballot, as pictured above.
Development at the Forefront - It's no surprise that overdevelopment is the biggest issue people are talking about in this election. Cranford is a great place to live, work and raise a family, so it makes sense that developers want to build here, but we need to be vigilant in making sure all projects are done the right way, keeping with the character of Cranford, and not creating further problems with traffic, parking, flooding, and overburdening our schools and infrastructure.
All of the candidates agree that we need responsible development, but I’m able to show you a public record of real results. A prime example is at Birchwood, where a developer tried to force an overly dense 360-unit project on us. I led negotiations to buy back the land and sell to a different developer who agreed to scale back density by 37.5%, while keeping 15% affordable to satisfy a court order, drastically easing the impact on our community at no additional cost to taxpayers (2).
Recently, I have publicly questioned why the North Ave. redevelopment plan is being conducted primarily behind closed doors, without input from residents, as well as the rationale for a proposed 4-plus story parking garage which would be built as part of this project right next to the fire house, forever altering the character of Downtown Cranford. I have raised concerns about parking and encroachment on residential neighborhoods with the South Ave. redevelopment, and have spoken on the need to maintain and enhance the berm at 750 Walnut which acts as a buffer for those neighborhoods. Some other officials have criticized me for this, but I know that big or small, whether it impacts our entire town or just a particular neighborhood, it's my job to stay on top of development in Cranford and to watch out for you and your family.
Make Sure Your Vote Counts - 2020 was a confusing year for voting, but thankfully we are back to our regular process for this election. If you are a Registered Democrat or Unaffiliated (Independent, Non-Partisan, etc.) voter, you can vote in the Democratic Primary with no special action needed. Just go to your regular polling place on Tuesday, June 8th, from 6am to 8pm. If you aren’t sure where to vote, you can look it up here: https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/polling-place-search
If you need a ride to vote, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll arrange transportation for you.
If you're busy all day or will be out of town on Tuesday, you have one last chance to vote early on Monday, June 7th at the Union County Clerk's offices, where you can get a ballot on the spot up until 3 p.m. Make sure to bring photo ID that matches the address where you are registered to vote. You can go to the Westfield office at 300 North Ave. East from 8am to 3pm, or the Elizabeth office at 2 Broad St., Room 113 from 8:30am to 3pm.
If you applied for a Vote by Mail Ballot, you can still mail it back as long as it is POSTMARKED by June 8th, or you can deliver it to secure ballot drop-boxes up until 8pm on June 8th. Boxes are located at the Cranford Community Center at 220 Walnut Ave., and in Richel Commons Courtyard at Union County College on Springfield Ave. If you applied to Vote by Mail but didn't get your ballot, or lost your ballot, you can still go to your regular polling place on Tuesday, June 8th from 6am to 8pm and ask for a Provisional ballot.
Most of all, THANK YOU CRANFORD! - Cranford has given so much to me as I raised my own family here, and it has been such a privilege to have the opportunity to give back by serving in elected office. I know the work never ends in planning for our future, with issues that require both short-term solutions and long-term strategy, such as flood remediation, ensuring smart development that considers the impact on our roads, parking and schools, and helping our downtown and local businesses survive and grow as we seek to emerge from a COVID restricted environment. I am currently one of only two Township Committee members with more than two years of experience, and I hope to continue to lend my knowledge of our town, love for our residents, and understanding of our local government in order to maintain and build upon the progress we have made.
I hope I have EARNED your trust for another term representing our town and our families, and ask for your support and your vote on Tuesday, June 8th in the Democratic Primary Election. Thank you for the opportunity to serve, as well as for your time evaluating this important choice for Cranford’s future.
As always, if you have any questions about these or any other issues Cranford is facing, my stances, or comments on your own vision for the future of our town, please don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com. Thank you for your consideration.
~Commissioner Tom Hannen, Jr.