Two Cranbury Township Committee seats are on the line for four candidates as Cranbury residents prepare to vote for the Nov. 2 general election.
Two Democrats and two Republicans are seeking to earn those two open seats that each carry a three-year term. Democratic candidates Eman El-Badawi and incumbent Michael Ferrante will be on the ballot facing off against Republican candidates Robert Bolger and Cynthia Hughes-Smithers.
For the Democrats on the ballot, Eman El-Badawi is a candidate looking to secure her first term of public office come November.
The Cranbury resident graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Douglass College, Rutgers University. El-Badawi previously worked in a development biology lab before deciding to devote her time to raising her six children.
She works with Interfaith Rise in NJ, and is a regional coordinator for the Jewish/Muslim Interfaith group, Sisterhood of Salam Shalom. Additionally, El-Badawi has participated in the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign in Cranbury and community workshops for the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) and Cranbury Township’s Master Plan.
When asked about what she sees as the top two challenges facing Cranbury, El-Badawi said those challenges are climate change and maintenance of current infrastructure.
“As discussed in the September Township Committee meeting, the disastrous floods that Tropical Storm Henri brought to Cranbury dumped enough water to fill Brainerd Lake 80 times. While this flood was hardly avoidable, it prompted urgent interest to mitigate such future events,” she said. “Unfortunately, such natural disasters seem more likely in the future and warrant educating our residents of the reality that climate change poses to the town.”
El-Badawi added that one of the ways she would want to address the issue is by encouraging a robust educational forum or discussion that will continue to engage youth in the conversation on climate change and its community impacts.
“Establishing connections with our neighboring towns and our state elected officials will be key in quick guidance during potential crises. It will be important to support the sustainability subcommittee as it puts together the resilience team that will be tasked with enhancing township resilience during a crisis,” she said. “I’d also like to continue to encourage our town in reducing its carbon dioxide emissions with electric cars and charging stations as well as solar cells on top of our warehouse buildings.”
On the second top challenge on the maintenance of the township’s infrastructure, El-Badawi focused on township roadways.
“Years of wear and tear has taken its toll on several township roads and sidewalks. Having sat through over four years of Township Committee meetings, it has been a regular complaint from residents,” she said.
“The township has certainly tried to stay ahead of these projects with the recent paving of Ancil Davidson Road and the proposed repairs to Petty Road; however, there is opportunity to do more. I’d like to see a set schedule of roads slated for maintenance repairs that officials and residents can visualize.”
Funds for these projects would then have to be allocated during the budget or acquired through various traffic and safety grants if applicable, El-Badawi added.
“To tackle one or two roads a year would avoid them falling into complete ruin that would result in expensive repaving of entire roads,” she said.
Ferrante is the second Democratic candidate on the ballot and the only incumbent candidate for the Nov. 2 election.
He seeks a second term on the Township Committee and serves as Cranbury’s mayor in 2021.
A Cranbury resident since 1998, Ferrante served on Cranbury Board of Education, as president of the Library Foundation and currently as advancement chair for Scouts BSA Troop 52.
In Cranbury, he implemented bi-weekly Mayor’s Updates on COVID-19 developments and town events. He also helped build upon 2020’s communications campaign to increase subscribers to the township e-news.
He has conducted sessions called “De-Mystifying Local Government” as a member of the Township Committee.
Maintaining a vibrant downtown area and making certain Cranbury is welcoming community are two top challenges he said he would want to address as a member of the Township Committee.
“Restaurants and businesses come and go, but we need to make sure Cranbury’s village area remains a vibrant, walkable economic zone. That’s why we launched the Economic Development Advisory Committee last year,” he said. “This group of high-powered, fresh-eyed leaders are looking holistically at how to attract businesses to town, and how to develop and market events that are fun, new and showcase Cranbury within our region.”
We need to make sure that businesses feel supported with simpler sign rules and easier-to-understand regulations for opening a business, Ferrante added.
“We need to make sure new businesses that open at Cranbury Commons on Old Trenton Road are welcomed into town,” he said. “The second challenge is to make sure Cranbury remains a welcoming community.”
Ferrante wants to make certain that Cranbury newest residents feel welcome.
“With over 150 new residents in the past two years alone, we need to make sure that Cranbury’s newest residents feel welcome, have a path to get involved, and feel recognized and included in town activities. We can move on these quickly,” he said.
“I was doing it by personally visiting every residence in the Gateway with Eman in mid-August to invite them to Cranbury Day; I am doing it by helping to organize the Oct. 17 New Neighbors Reception in Village Park, and I will continue to do it by getting the word out about township happenings via the Mayor’s Update, conducting the annual session on de-mystifying local government, and by encouraging the community at large to apply for boards and commission vacancies.”
The Township Committee currently has a 3-2 Democratic majority.
Ferrante, Deputy Mayor Barbara Rogers, Township Committeeman Matt Scott are the Democrats currently on the committee, Township Committeewoman Evelyn Spann is the sole Republican and Township Committeeman Jay Taylor is unaffiliated.