BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Janice Fields, the endorsed Republican candidate for an open position on the Bernards Township Committee, gathered with supporters and other Republican officials at the Allen Street gazebo on Saturday morning to kick off her campaign.

"My campaign is all about 'community first," said Fields, who said she is a 27-year-resident of Bernards Township. In making decisions on the Township Committee, Fields said she would ask, "Is it in the best interest of the community?"

Democratic kickoff planned for nest Saturday

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The gazebo, just north of downtown Basking Ridge, is the traditional site for local Township Committee candidates to officially launch their campaigns. 

The endorsed Democratic Township Committee candidate, Sophia Chadda, is planning hold a similar kickoff from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. [Update] However, the venue has been changed to Pleasant Valley Park off Valley Road.

Last November's election of Democrat Joan Harris marked the first election of a Democrat to the Township Committee in the previous 20 years, and this election season, Fields said that Republicans "need to be out there" to get the party's candidates elected.

Fields is seeking to fill a position on the Township Committee that will be vacated by the end of the year by Republican Carol Bianchi, who announced earlier this year she would not seek re-election. Bianchi is serving a year-long term as township mayor.

Fields told the crowd of gathered supporters that she would continue many of the initiatives _ and the values _ of local Republicans. 

Among her goals, she said, would be to keep taxes low and continue the governing body's "pay as you go" policy for major expenditures, as well as continuing Bianchi's task forces, at which she said residents could offer their comments, and the recently added second public comment period at Township Committee meetings.

She added she would like to keep the town from overdevelopment, and that she is against the Millington Quarry's application to subdivide the defunct 180-acre quarry property.

At Saturday's kickoff, Bianchi highlighted a long list of Fields' involvement in community and Republican party organizations. 

"Janice has led a life of promoting, and supporting others through her leadership with our youth, seniors, women, Bernards Township community, police and fire, and the Republican party," Bianchi said. "And Janice always gets things done."

Among Fields accomplishments and activities as part of a group, Bianchi said that the Republican candidate had organized First Responders Appreciation Night, organized and defeated plans for a cell tower in a residential neighborhood, received the Millicent Fenwick award and the Italian American Woman of the Year awards, advocated for senior citizens to improve their quality of life with the Somerset County Office on Aging, graduated from "Leadership Somerset" after completing a project to benefit the county and more.

Bianchi said that Fields also has worked to help get Republicans elected to office at every level, from local to national.

Local, county and state Republican officials on hand to show support

Other Republican officials and supporters at Fields' campaign launch included Somerset County Freeholder Deputy Director Pat Walsh, State Sen. Tom Kean Jr. and NJ Assembly representatives Jon Bramnick and Nancy Munoz; longtime Somerset County Freehold Peter Palmer of Bernardsville; Bernards deputy mayor James Baldassare and others.

Fields said she would be "pounding the pavement" with Walsh during the campaign, finding out what residents would like to make better in the township.