CHATHAM, NJ - Mark Hamilton and Ashley Felice will be running in the Republican primary with current Chatham Township Mayor Michael Kelly for two open seats on the Chatham Township Committee.
"The current Committee under Mayor Kelly’s leadership has failed to represent the interests of the Township resident’s first," Hamilton and Felice said in a joint statement. "He has pitted neighborhoods against each other and even went so far as to vote for the option to condemn properties he wanted to fit his vision for the makeup of the Township.
"His time on the Committee has taken Chatham Township down the wrong path. It’s time for new, competent leadership. We will provide that leadership; we are both attorneys who know how to stand up to outside influences, understand the Township’s need for fiscal responsibility and are willing to go to bat for the Township’s residents first."
It marks the second straight year that a sitting mayor was challenged in the primary by members of his own party. Last June, Mayor Tayfun Selen was unseated in the Republican primary by Hamilton and Rez Estevez. They lost to the Democratic ticket of Stacey Ewald and Celeste Fondaco in last November's election.
"I am running for re-election to the Township Committee for a number of important reasons," Kelly said in his announcement to seek re-election. "The Township is facing too many unfinished challenges to walk away from. I ask the voters for their support to continue to work on solving these issues, ranging from our ongoing and difficult obligation to provide Affordable Housing to the more recent, and even more serious, response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I am running for re-election because I believe that my six years of experience on the Township Committee brings continuity to a governing body where, by the end of this year, the other four Township Committee members will have a total experience of only four years combined. And I am running for re-election because I am the only moderate Republican on the governing body now, and I am the only moderate Republican on the ballot. I believe that a Township Committee with a variety of views and voices working together is the best Township Committee for the entire community.
"I ask voters in the upcoming election to support experience, continuity and a proven track record of working with colleagues of all views to solve difficult challenges. I ask for your vote to continue working for Chatham Township."
Felice and her husband, Chris, led the opposition to the original decision by the committee to turn over the municipal building for 64 affordable housing units, filing a civil lawsuit against the township. The committee later voted to move the site for the affordable housing units to River Road.