Three Democratic candidates run uncontested races for Pennington mayor, Borough Council

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Pennington Mayor Jim Davy (center)
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Nadine Stern (center)PHOTO COURTESY OF NADINE STERN
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Pennington Mayor Jim Davy (center)
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Nadine Stern (center)PHOTO COURTESY OF NADINE STERN

When Pennington residents cast their votes for the Nov. 2 general election several Democratic candidates for council and mayor will run unopposed on the ballot.

Democratic Mayor James Davy is on the ballot for the Pennington’s mayoral race to complete former Mayor Joe Lawver’s term. Lawver resigned in the summer.

The race is uncontested as there are no Republican candidates on the November ballot and is for a two-year unexpired term.

“I was asked to step in as mayor when the former mayor resigned this past June and agreed to serve as a way to give back to my community. Given my many years of public service in local government, I thought I could make a positive difference,” Davy said.

For two open council seats, incumbent Councilwoman Deborah Gnatt (D) and newcomer Nadine Stern (D) are also running unopposed for both seats as there are no Republican candidates on the ballot. The two open seats each carry a three-year term.

Davy, who is seeking to carry out the rest of Lawver’s unexpired term following his appointment to the position on June 7, has previously served on Borough Council from 2013-16.

He was a former New Jersey Commissioner of Human Services and worked as an administrator for Hopewell Township.

Currently, Davy is a distinguished practitioner in residence in the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University–Newark and is the director of the Center for Applied Appreciative Inquiry.

He is also president of James M. Davy Associates, a firm specializing in strength-based collaboration and group process facilitation.

Davy said if he were elected he would want to address two areas: controlling property taxes and conducting routine community neighborhood meetings.

“First, we need to find ways to control property taxes. The amount of property taxes people pay is high for such a small town and secondly, I would like to find ways to better engage the community in the decisions made by the Borough Council,” he said.

To this end, the borough recently commenced the 2022 budget planning cycle with two community town halls via Zoom to gain input from our residents about municipal services and budget ideas, Davy added.

“I plan to conduct additional open work session type meetings on Zoom and another town hall before the budget is introduced in April,” he said. “I also believe that the Borough Council should routinely conduct community, neighborhood meetings whenever a project or decision is made that could affect residents. Residents who can influence a decision or be affected by a decision should have a say in that decision-making process.”

Pivoting to the race for two Borough Council seats, Gnatt is seeking re-election and serves on the Open Space Committee, Planning and Zoning Board, as well as the Borough Council.

As a newcomer, Stern is looking to secure her first term in public office. She has lived on Sked Street in Pennington for 32 years.

Stern who retired 2019 had previously worked as a deputy chief information officer (CIO) at Princeton University for eight years. Before becoming CIO at Princeton University, Stern had been vice president for information technology and student services at The College of New Jersey for 15 years, and prior to TCNJ at Rutgers University.

She has served on the Pennington Democratic Committee, Planning and Zoning Board and currently serves on the Environmental Commission.

There are two top challenges Stern would want to address if elected as a member of Borough Council are environmental action and open space.

“I believe our current top challenges are environmental action and open space, maintaining the levels of services provided by our local government while keeping local taxes from increasing at an unreasonable pace, and encouraging a diverse representation of Pennington residents to participate in local government so that we are sure we are hearing all voices as issues of importance arise, she said.

Gnatt could not be reached by press time.