Lawrence Dems file for Township Council seats

Two Democrats have filed nominating petitions to run for two open seats on the Lawrence Township Council, eliminating any political party primary fight in the June 8 Democratic Party primary.

Incumbent Township Councilmen James Kownacki and Christopher Bobbitt, both Democrats, filed their nominating petitions by the April 5 deadline.

Kownacki is serving in the ceremonial post of mayor for 2021.

No one filed to run for the Republican Party nomination for the Lawrence Township Council in the June 8 Republican Party political primary – the first time in several years that the party is not fielding candidates.

Kownacki is seeking his fourth consecutive four-year term on the Lawrence Township Council. He held the ceremonial post of mayor in 2012 and 2013, and again in 2020 and 2021. The mayor, who is chosen from among the five Township Council members, serves a two-year term.

Kownacki, who has lived in Lawrence since 1997, is retired from the Ewing Lawrence Sewerage Authority. He served for 25 years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and the U.S. Army Reserves.

“I enjoy serving the residents of Lawrence Township. I know I can’t please everybody, but I try my hardest,” Kownacki said.

He said he enjoys working with his four Lawrence Township Council colleagues, and with Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski and the department heads.

“I have learned a lot from them,” Kownacki said.

Bobbitt is seeking his second, full four-year term. He was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Lawrence Township Council in 2015, and won a full term in 2017. He served as mayor in 2018 and 2019.

Bobbitt, who has lived in Lawrence since 2004, is an architect in private practice.

“There are things I want to do (if elected to another term). I want to support small businesses and I want to continue working on sustainability issues,” Bobbitt said.

One aspect of sustainability that he would like to examine more closely is mobility throughout Lawrence Township – the ability to get from one place to another, such as from home to the park, without driving.

One of the results of the COVID-19 pandemic was the increased usage of the township’s parks, he said. But that increased usage also brought out the difficulty that some residents experienced in getting to the parks, he added.

“We had some residents come to the Township Council before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they spoke about the difficulty in getting to the Brearley House (off Meadow Road) or the Delaware and Raritan Canal from the center of town,” Bobbitt said.

“Obviously, the pandemic slowed down things and refocused us. I would like to explore what we can do to increase access to the parks. If you live by Colonial Lake, you can’t walk to the Lawrence Library (on Darrah Lane),” he said.

Mobility is a town-wide issue, Bobbitt said. The township is going to install sidewalks along Cold Soil Road, between Bergen Street and Route 206, to make it safer to walk along that stretch of road, he said.