Name: Crystal Pruitt
Work/professional experience: I am currently employed as the Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (LD-16).
A graduate of North Carolina State University (Bachelors of Science, Criminology - 2007) and John Jay College of Criminal Justice (Master of Arts, Forensic Psychology - 2009; Master of Arts, Forensic Mental Health Counseling - 2014), I have worked for the Forensic Intensive Recovery Program for the First Judicial District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services, Bronx TASC Mental Health Court Diversion Program, Bo Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center and Amplify Incorporated.
I officially transition to politics in 2017 when I took on the role as Director of Constituent Relations and Community Outreach for Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker. I would then move into the Murphy Administration to work as Legislative Liaison for the New Jersey Department of Human Services before eventually returning to the Legislative Branch as a Chief of Staff.
Why are you running for Township Council?: For me, being on Council was all about giving back to the Township that helped me grow into the person I am today. During my time on the Council, I have learned so much about the place I have called home. I look towards the future of our town and want to carry on the legacy of Franklin Township being a diverse town with a rich multicultural heritage that is an all-around great place to live. I deeply love my hometown and I believe that this love is critical to service.
I'm running for Township Council because being able to serve the people of Franklin has been a tremendous honor as an appointed councilperson, however, it is important that I earn my place by being elected not just by a committee or Council but by the people at large. As I continue to serve on Council and go through this campaign process, I am also running to show other younger residents that they have a role in their local community and government. I believe representation matters and to that end, I hope that seeing a Millennial Woman of Color holding and running for elected office will encourage other young women and minorities in town that they too have a place in local politics. For me, being able to inspire and encourage a younger base of residents to civically engage to ensure Franklin Township's rich legacy.
What area would you focus on immediately if (when) you are voted in?: I have two major areas of focus currently as a Councilmember. Strengthen the relationship between our community and government, and strengthening our relationship to our State government. With my academic and professional background, policing, public safety, and social justice are passions of mine. Rather than be reactive, I believe that government can be proactive, so I have taken steps to develop a relationship with our police department, so I can better understand the relationship between our community and the police and help be a bridge between them both. I've been on ride alongs several times each month at the beginning of my appointment, which has allowed me to get to know the officers who patrol our streets, see first hand what issues occur across the Township, as well as observe interactions between residents and our police department. It was a valuable and enlightening experience, that allowed me to better understand our approach to public safety and has served me will on the Public Safety Sub-Committee on which I serve. I hope to have the opportunity to work with our other first responders in similar ways. As a municipal official, I have a responsibility to ensure that the relationship with our residents and communities and the different institutions of power within our local government are positive and that's what I'll endeavor to do.
We are represented by a dedicated legislative delegation, but as someone who currently works in the Legislative Branch of our State Government, has worked in the Executive Branch and has relationships in both, I believe that I am able to give our Township an advantage when having to navigate state issues. I have been able to make direct contact with state departments and the Murphy Administration to address our Township's concerns and needs. Having someone with working knowledge of State politics and policies on Township Council is to our benefit as a whole, so I am happy to leverage my knowledge and access when appropriate to address needs and concerns in our Township.