LAMBERTVILLE, NJ - Lambertville will have a contested mayoral race once again.
After a competitive election in June 2018, former longtime mayor David Del Vecchio and newcomer Andrew Nowick will be running against each other in the Democratic Primary for the nomination to run for mayor of Lambertville in 2021.
Current mayor Julia Fahl, who ousted Del Vecchio after a 27-year tenure, stated during her Jan. 2021 State of the City address that she would not be seeking another term.
That left the city without an incumbent running for the position. In late winter, Del Vecchio contacted past supporters and gauged interest, but originally stated that it was not his intention to run again.
“But circumstances changed,” Del Vecchio said. “I talked with residents and heard their thoughts and some asked that I consider running again.”
By mid-March, it seemed that it might be an uneventful contest. The Lambertville Democratic Club had asked for applications to give their endorsement by March 19.
Del Vecchio was the only candidate that applied, and has the club’s backing.
Then, Andrew Nowick, an area resident since 2004, announced his candidacy not soon after and filed officially on March 30.
Nowick grew up outside of Springfield, MA, and was an English major at Hunter College. He is a member of the Fahl-appointed Community Advisory Team (CAT) that was designed to facilitate more communication outreach on redevelopment in the city.
The CAT was created months after the mayor’s municipal building consolidation proposal was announced at the 2020 State of the City address on Jan. 31. There was local opposition to that plan, and the CAT had been created to address some of those concerns.
When asked what the biggest issues he would prioritize if elected mayor, Nowick said encouraging more civic engagement, helping the city recover from the COVID pandemic and focusing on the state of the city’s municipal buildings.
Del Vecchio cited his top three issues as being holding taxes and spending; having more consistent services; and meeting climate change goals.
Nowick noted that he will appoint neighborhood liaisons to share concerns and ideas from their neighborhoods and would prioritize sprucing up the central business district to help businesses recover from COVID. Nowick emphasized his biggest issue is focusing on the condition of the city’s municipal buildings: the library, city hall and the justice center.
“While there appears to be broad support for maintaining these historic properties, there has been almost no money allocated for their upkeep, let alone refurbishment or full compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standards (OSHA),” he said.
Del Vecchio has promised to keep taxes affordable and not to have dramatic increases in spending, while improving quality of life issues and services like garbage collection, snow removal and updated convenience center hours. He also said that, as mayor, he would try to meet the goals of the Paris Accords for climate change.
As for the state of the city buildings, Del Vecchio said, “I pledge to not sell any of our important historic structures and to develop a 10-year plan for improvements to these structures. Additionally, we need to work with our business owners to develop strategies that will allow them to prosper as we come out of this pandemic.”
Del Vecchio cited that in the years of the Fahl administration, municipal taxes went up 21.5%.
Nowick outlined that fiscal responsibility and budget transparency are key issues to his campaign.
During the campaign of 2018, Fahl had been warning about the city’s debt. Even after she was elected, the mayor cited the number at $13 million in January 2020 and the former business administrator outlined that from 2015 to 2019 the city had authorized $7.1 million in debt.
But 2020 not only brought the pandemic and less revenue for the city, but the former business administrator brought a lawsuit against Fahl and the city also sought bonding to purchase the historic Closson Farm property.
Now, former mayor Del Vecchio faces political newcomer Nowick in a primary that comes after some tumultuous years locally, and which also featured a contentious election for city council, where Del Vecchio allies defeated incumbents who had received the mayor’s backing. Nearly 75 percent of registered Democrats in the city participated in that election.
Voters now await candidate forums where Del Vecchio and Nowick will outline their visions. Details on those are still to come, one of them will be sponsored by TAPinto.
The primary elections will be held June 8.