BERNARDS TWP., NJ - This year's Republican candidates for Bernards Township Committee - longtime incumbent John Carpenter, a former mayor, and James Baldassare, who serves on the Planning Board - officially kicked off their campaign on Saturday, with the candidates and their supporters crediting consistent GOP leadership with debt-free local government, a low municipal tax rate and and high quality of life.
"Good government doesn't just happen," Baldassare said at the town gazebo off Allen Street in Basking Ridge. A crowd of residents and other area Republicans gathered to show support at the official launch of the Republican team's candidacy for two Township Committee seats up for election this year.
He and Carpenter cited such benchmarks as the township's rare triple A bond rating as an indication of strong finances, at the same time the township is offering an increasing amount of cultural and recreational events and has achieved ranking as one of the safest places to live in the U.S.
Baldassare said local Republicans have shown "more can be done with less."
Republicans to face competition from Democratic Twp. Committee candidates in November
The two Republicans will face no competition in the June primary election for the three-year terms they are seeking to fill on the Township Committee, which now is comprised of five Republicans.
However, the revived Bernards Township Democratic Committee is backing two local candidates - Sally Booth and Joan Harris - who expect to face off against the Republicans in the November general election. The Democrats launched their own campaign for Township Committee the previous weekend. The Democratic candidates said new voices are needed while addressing many of the issues now facing the township, which include a lawsuit involving a proposed mosque in Liberty Corner, and concern about mental health issues for the township's youth.
Carpenter, this year's deputy mayor, has been a Bernards Township Committee member since 2006. He previously served two yearlong terms as mayor, in 2008 and 2014.
More information about Carpenter, who has lived most of his life in the township and attended local schools, is on the township website. "The thing about Bernards Township is that as it changes, it keeps getting better," Carpenter said.
Baldassare was endorsed by the local Republican committee to replace Township Committeeman Tom Russo, Jr., who is not seeking re-election.
A former U.S. Marine, Baldassare said he currently serves on the Bernards Planning Board, and is a former member and vice-chair of the township's Zoning Board of Adjustment.
One of the team's supporters, Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher, said the two candidates have proven established leadership. "They move things forward, and that's how you get things done."
During their speeches, the candidates harkened back to abolitionist origins of the Republican party, which they called the party of freedom, and also referred to such memorable Republican presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.