When voters cast their ballots for the Lawrence Township Council in the Nov. 2 general election, the only names on the ballot will be Mayor James Kownacki and Township Councilman Christopher Bobbitt.
The two Democrats are running unopposed for the two open seats on the Lawrence Township Council. The Republican Party did not field any candidates to run for election to the governing body.
Kownacki is seeking his fourth, 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 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 a combined 25 years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and the U.S. Army Reserves.
Kownacki has served on many committees and advisory boards, including the Public Safety Advisory Committee, and as the Township Council’s liaison to the Recreation Advisory Committee and the Patriotic Committee. He sits on the 112th Field Artillery Association’s board of trustees.
Kownacki said that for the past 12 years, he has served on the Lawrence Township Council, and he is running for re-election because he enjoys serving the residents.
As a Lawrence Township Council member, “we face some very tough decisions to represent Lawrence Township residents,” he said.
“I enjoy listening to the residents and their concerns. If I don’t have the answer at that time, I get back to them,” Kownacki said.
On the issues facing Lawrence Township, Kownacki said that “(property) taxes as a whole are a concern for residents. When the budget is presented to us, we go through it and work to keep (municipal) property taxes stable.”
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.
Bobbitt has served on the Lawrence Township Growth & Redevelopment Committee, the Environmental Green Advisory Committee and the Planning Board.
Bobbitt said he is running for re-election because of some unfinished goals that he would like to accomplish – from strengthening the local business community to supporting sustainability efforts at the municipal level.
“I believe that it is possible to effect change in these areas because I have a good working relationship with my colleagues on the council, as well as with the municipal manager and the municipal staff,” he said.
Asked about the issues facing Lawrence, Bobbitt said those issues are related to the unfinished goals that he would like to work on for the next four years, such as strengthening the local business community.
“It’s wonderful that the Lawrence Shopping Center is coming back to life, but our other business districts – Main Street, Eldridge Park, the area around the Lawrence Library, and that area that runs from the Colonial Heights and Slackwood neighborhoods down to the Trenton Farmers Market – are just as valuable to our neighbors,” Bobbitt said.
For that reason, Bobbitt said, Lawrence Township is continuing to move ahead with the Brunswick Pike boulevard concept. It is also working to improve the former Pit Stop site at 1170 Lawrence Road.
Sustainability and climate change are also on Bobbitt’s mind, given that the last two tropical storms – Henri and Ida – demonstrated the need to find better ways of handling stormwater runoff.
Bobbitt also pointed to the need to reduce greenhouse gases through more efficient energy use, and to use solar energy to generate more electricity.
“We will need to improve how we deal with recyclables and organic food waste as it becomes more expensive to send our trash to the landfill,” he said.
Reducing the dependence on the car to get around Lawrence Township is another issue he would like to address, by focusing on creating routes and paths that link neighborhoods, shopping districts and services.