MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Democratic Committee met on April 20 and discussed members’ new-found energy in a mostly Republican town.

“We’re fired up and ready to go,” said Vice Chair Linda Lewis Kornreich.

Montville Township Board of Education Member David Modrak encouraged attendees to run for local positions, including the two open spots on the Montville Township BOE, because, “the main focus is the schools, not politics, and you can make a difference.”

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Dan Grant, Outgoing Montville Township Democratic Municipal Chair, reminded that he ran five times for township committee before he won on the fifth try.

“Every election stands on its own,” he said. “There’s a lot of emotion involved. We need to get some Democrats elected locally.”

Attendees were also able to hear from the Democratic candidates for Montville Township Committee.

Since candidate Lori Hieger had a prior commitment that night, her husband Eric read a statement for her.

The Hiegers have been residents of Montville since 2012 and have two children, a third grader and a seventh grader.

“As a transplant to the town, Lori brings a wide lens view to the growing population, as well as the desire to maintain the small town feel that so many people in the Montville love,” Eric said.

Eric said his wife is of mixed races: Native Hawaiian, Filipino and Irish, which helps her understand the complexity of bringing very different groups together. She worked in advocacy in Los Angeles and was “highly engaged supporting human rights in the aftermath of the LA riots,” he said. Her geology professor excused her from his final exam when he saw her in a news clip protesting during finals week, he said.

When the couple lived in Long Island, Lori served on the PTA board, and in 2011 she started a movement to persuade the school board to preserve the town’s full-day kindergarten program, a “keystone” program for families with children, Eric said. Her efforts, which included contacting school board members and organizing residents, were successful, he said.

Lori is an active member of the Valley View PTA, and the family participates in the town’s soccer program and Boy Scouts, according to Eric.

“This year, Lori started #Get2Work, a grassroots community organization established to incubate people and groups interested in advocacy and action,” he said. “It helps connect people, and connect people to movements they feel passionate about.”

She could not attend the Democratic Committee meeting because she was working with the Coalition Against the Pilgrim Pipeline that night, he said.

Township Committee candidate Lucy Tullo also addressed the attendees, and said that she has lived in Montville for 25 years.

She grew up in Westchester County, NY, and she has performed as an actor, musical theater performer and opera singer.

“From the minute I moved here, I got involved in the community,” she said. “Right away, I really loved the town.”

Tullo has three kids: a college senior, a high school senior and a high school freshman.

Tullo said she joined the board of the Valhalla Civic Association, and she was also in the PTA of the Wilson School.

The Tullo family moved to Tennessee for a few years but moved back to Montville because they missed the lake, their friends and the town, she said.

“That’s the draw of Montville,” she said. “That’s why people stay.”

She served on the Valhalla Civic Association board again, as well as holding board positions with the William Mason Elementary School Home and School Association.

“I learned a lot about the school district,” she said. “As a board member you also work with the school board. I was involved in finding Superintendent Paul Fried. I found it interesting finding out not just what goes on in the community but also the schools and the budget. I enjoyed it.”

Tullo said she is on the board of the Montville Educational Foundation, which gives grants to all the schools in Montville, public and parochial. She is involved with the Towaco Civic Association as well, she said.

“I know a lot about this town, and I love it,” she said. “Politics was sort of the next wave. I’ve known Dan [Grant] for many years. With the tenor of the country, I felt it was time to stop posting on Facebook and start actually doing something.”

Tullo said she wants to talk to people, find out what is needed, go to the Township Committee, and “fill that gap. I think it’s important to listen to people want.”

Tullo said she had been “involved” with the pipeline and power lines projects, and wanted to keep the town safe.

“Montville Township already is great,” Tullo said. “I want things to happen the way people who live here want them to happen. I want to enhance it.”

The third candidate, Daniel Weinzierl, was unable to attend the meeting, but TAPinto Montville reached out to him, and this was his statement:

“I'm new to Montville and politics in general. I've been a poll worker for several years and follow the big picture of government, but have never served on a committee. My day job is working in the administrative field of mental health and substance abuse patients. I am younger than most (30, not that much younger) and bring a Millenial perspective to the table. I care deeply about preserving open spaces and green in Montville, wanting any more development to be worth the cost of clearing land. I'm against the Pilgrim Pipeline, as most are. Since I am new to Montville, my eyes and ears are fresh and open to hearing which direction the people of this Township want to go.”

The Republican Township Committee candidates will be represented in a future article.