BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Sophia Chadda, this year's Democratic candidate for Bernards Township Committee, outlined her position before a group of supporters at her official campaign launch earlier this month, saying she believes the committee needs "different voices including diverse ones."

Speaking at the picnic pavilion at Pleasant Valley Park, Chadda said she would like to see local government that is "more inclusive, transparent and communicates better with the residents of this town about the issues."

Chadda contended that transparency has been lacking in local government. "Transparency is the baseline...no more surprises. No more quick fixes. No more back-room deals."

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Chadda, who is a board certified periodontist with a practice in town, said she bases her decision-making on her background in science. She said she has an "insistence" on fact gathering and listening to facts, evidence and differing viewpoints.

"Listening is job one," she told the crowd.

The Bernards Township Democratic Club held its campaign launch for its Township Committee candidate one week after township Republicans gathered at the town gazebo in downtown Basking Ridge to officially launch the campaign of this year's GOP candidate for Township Committee, Janice Fields.

Although there will be no contest in the June primary election, Fields and Chadda can be expected to compete for the vote in November for the one open three-year term on the Township Committee to begin in 2020. The winner of the November election will replace this year's mayor, Carol Bianchi, who announced earlier this year she would not seek re-election to another term on the Township Committee.

Nancy D'Andrea, chair of the Bernards Township Democratic Committee reminded local Democrats that, "Every vote counts."

She pointed out that Joan Bannan Harris _ the first Democrat to win a seat on the Township Committee in 20 years _ last November won by a margin of 29 votes out of about 12,000 votes cast by township voters. Both Republicans, including current Township Committeeman Joe Esposito, were ahead on election night, and Harris ultimately gained the lead as mail-in votes were counted by the county election board.

D'Andrea told the crowd that she believes the Republican candidates have been imitating the Democrats' campaign slogans for the past two years. She said Fields' slogan of "Community First" had been used in 2018 by Harris and her Democratic running mate, Bobby Mascia.

D'Andrea also touted Chadda's scientific background, noting that the candidate is in practice with her husband, Dr. Konstantine Trichas, and had been an assistant Professor at Rutgers Dental School.

D'Andrea said in campaigning last year, the candidates found there was much anger locally at Donald Trump and his actions as US president.

"After what's been going in D.C., we need someone who gets their facts straight," she said, pointing to other Democrats elected in the state and Somerset County. One of those Democrats was Somerset County Freeholder Sara Sooy, who attended Chadda's campaign kickoff.