The three seats on the Bordentown City Board of Commissioners are up for grabs during the nonpartisan election that will take place on May 11.
Two current members of the Board of Commissioners, Mayor James Lynch and City Commissioner Joe Myers, are running for reelection.
Communications Director of the New Jersey Department of Treasury Jennifer Sciortino and Bordentown native Ed Foley are the newcomers running for a seat on the commission.
Deputy Mayor John Brodowski decided to drop out of the race on April 20.
Brodowski told centraljersey.com in an exclusive interview that it was a “difficult decision” to drop out of the race, but he felt he could not give the time commitment needed to be a city commissioner and serve the people of the city.
A lifelong Bordentown resident, Brodowski called being deputy mayor this past term a “privilege” and said he plans to be involved in other ways to give back to the community.
“It was a privilege to serve the residents of Bordentown City and give back to the community,” Brodowski said. “I feel we have four excellent candidates to be elected to be on the Board of Commissioners. I fully intend to stay involved in the community.”
Lynch, who has been a Bordentown city commissioner since 1989, will be running for a ninth term to serve the residents of his hometown.
The Bordentown native still feels he has “a lot to offer” as a local government official.
Lynch had planned on retiring after his current term ran out in 2021, but felt the timing wasn’t right for him to retire and said there is some “unfinished business” he needs to address.
That unfinished business for Lynch starts with helping the city and its small businesses recover from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Seeing the downtown area come back to what it was is personal to me,” Lynch said. “COVID-19 was the most difficult time in my political career. We did a good job holding our own with the amount of cases we had. I’m very proud of the residents for following all the safety guidelines and trying to help out the small businesses.”
The recent purchase of Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte’s historic Point Breeze estate and making the property into a state park is another key objective that Lynch is focused on if reelected.
Lynch wants to help “finish off” the project in place to make a couple of buildings on the Point Breeze property into a new City Hall and police headquarters for the city.
He also has gone on record saying he would like to turn one of the buildings that has been used as a gymnasium by the Divine Word Missionaries as a new community center for residents as well.
He also is excited about collaborating with D&R Greenway Land Trust and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in helping make the Point Breeze property an accessible state park for city residents and guests.
“We are working with the state to manage the entire property and make it better for the future of our city,” Lynch said of the Point Breeze estate. “I’m very proud of that property. I feel we can facilitate it into a great place that will be accessible to all our residents.”
Lynch is also currently the director of Public Safety and Affairs for the city, and for his day job works as the sales manager at Lucas Chevrolet in nearby Lumberton.
Myers will be seeking a second term in office.
During Myers’ first term as city commissioner, the native of nearby Riverton headed up the Bordentown Water Advisory Committee and helped the city’s water system return to compliance after high levels of lead were found in the system just two years ago.
Myers credits the teamwork the Water Advisory Committee had with city residents in helping create a data-driven method to improve the water system and devise the framework of a 10-year plan for the city to follow to continue to keep its water system up to date.
Based on the success of the committee, Myers is using a similar formula by leading a new initiative in the city called the General Parks Committee to improve the accessibility of open spaces and parks in the community.
The purpose of the parks committee will be to connect and engage with residents to improve the overall accessibility of current and future parks, trails, and open spaces around the city.
Myers adds that the parks committee has been something Lynch, Brodowski and himself have been trying to start up in the community the past two years.
Having a “great experience” during his first term in office, Myers wants to continue working with residents to make the city a better place to live in with a second term and wants to see through the next steps of the avenues he has put in place the last four years.
“To earn re-election, you have to look at how you performed over the last four years and I think my efforts of work give me the opportunity to run for another four years,” Myers said. “We have achieved a lot in rebuilding our roads and with the Small Business Grant Program. I’ve enjoyed collaborating with residents in public works and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot and it’s truly been a team effort.”
Myers has been a Bordentown resident since 2005 and is the Chief Operating Officer of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, an economic development nonprofit down in Camden.
Following the two incumbents are Sciortino and Foley, who are both hoping to gain a seat on the commission for the first time.
Sciortino has 25 years of governmental experience, which began with her becoming the first public information director for Perth Amboy, a position she held for six years.
The Rutgers University and Woodbridge High School alum has since worked in different facets of state government, including working in the governor’s office and the state’s department of health.
Sciortino’s current role as communications director of the New Jersey Department of Treasury consists of managing and directing public communications and community awareness for the programs and services that are associated with its 13 divisions, including helping administer the state’s $40 billion budget this year.
Sciortino believes having a “birds-eye view” of what is going on in state government and her experience as a government official gives her the tools to help meet the needs of the city and help the community rebound from COVID-19.
“I feel with my 25 years of experience in state and municipal government that I can meet the needs of the city,” Sciortino said. “The big goal is to see us create a landing that can house all COVID-19 tolls for small businesses and renters. There are a lot of state funding grants that are out there that we can take advantage of to help the city.”
Sciortino moved to Bordentown in 2008, and since becoming a resident of the city, has been actively involved in different ways around the community.
She is the vice president of Bordentown City Cats, helping coordinate the cats rescue group’s flea market, and has volunteered in the past to help out at the Bordentown Cranberry Festival, Bordentown City Street Fair and Bordentown City Green Fair.
Sciortino is also a member of the Bordentown Elks Lodge 2085 and was recently selected to join Myers on the parks committee.
Creating many “cooperative” relationships throughout her time in Bordentown, Sciortino insists that there needs to be more community involvement in government decisions and feels she can make that happen by taking on a role in the city’s government
“Government needs more proactive communication with residents and more community involvement,” said Sciortino.
Foley, who also works in the New Jersey Department of Treasury, is running for the second term in a row to get a seat on the Board of Commissioners.
Not being elected in 2017 was a “learning moment”, said Foley, who adds he dedicated more time in his campaign trail this time around by reaching out to more people in the community to hear what they would like to see done in the city.
“This time around, I see myself thinking about goals and ideas from listening to residents,” Foley said. “Bordentown is a little city with a lot of charm. There are a lot of opportunities coming in the area in the next few years.”
Getting involved in local government first piqued Foley’s interest when he attended town council meetings as an Eagle Scout for Bordentown Troop 13.
Since graduating from Saint Joseph’s University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in both history and economics, Foley has returned to his hometown of Bordentown and has given back to the community in a variety of ways.
Foley was hired by Lynch and his fellow City Commissioners Joseph Malone and Zigmont Targonski in 2013 to be a youth supervisor for the city’s summer youth program.
In 2015, Foley became a volunteer firefighter for Hope Hose Humane Co. 1 and is currently the president of the fire company. He has also worked with the local government as an alternate member of the planning board and serves as its liaison to the Economic Development Advisory Committee.
Foley said that communication is the “most important” thing to him if elected and wants to engage with his fellow Bordentown residents as much as he can in every aspect.
“Allowing residents to engage more is a huge aspect of it,” said Foley. “Empathy plays a critical role in working in local government.”
Prior to the primary election vote, the League of Women Voters in Burlington County will sponsor a Q&A virtual forum for all four candidates on April 27.
Residents can email questions to be answered by the candidates during the forum to firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions must be emailed by April 26.