In the 2022 Cranbury Township Committee primary season, two incumbent committee members are seeking to secure available spots during the Democratic and Republican primaries in their bids for re-election.
Both the Republican and Democratic primary elections are uncontested.
With the June 7 primary elections around the corner the Democratic primary features newcomer Lisa Knierim and incumbent Committeewoman Barbara Rogers, who currently serves as Cranbury’s mayor.
For the Republican primary, incumbent Committeewoman Evelyn Spann is seeking to earn one of the two slots available in the primary as she competes for one of two open seats.
Rogers and Spann are each seeking a return to the November general election to compete for two, three-year terms on the township committee. Both are looking to secure a second term on the township committee as Knierim seeks her first on the governing body.
In order to provide candidates with an equitable platform the three candidates were each given the same amount of questions and space for their responses and bios.
Knierim, a New Jersey native, is the former president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Villeroy & Boch. She now is the chief development officer for Porland USA.
Knierim runs her own consulting business in Cranbury and has been a model of civic engagement, serving as the vice-chair on the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) and volunteering her time on the Cranbury Business Association.
She lives in the Shadow Oaks section of town off of Old Trenton Road with her husband Adam and daughter Greta, 12, who attends Cranbury school.
She describes herself as a naturally collaborative spirit. Knierim said she hopes to bring to the Township Committee a commitment to fiscal responsibility that can increase quality of life for all residents.
In her spare time Knierim said she loves cheering for Greta at baseball games and rooting for the New York Yankees and Rangers.
Rogers serves as Cranbury’s mayor in 2022. She has lived in Cranbury for 25 years and holds a Ph.D. in environmental science from Rutgers University.
During her first three years on the Township Committee, Rogers said she has been a consensus builder, steering the committee toward projects that save money while improving our environment and quality of life.
She loves to participate in all things Cranbury, from serving for years on the Environmental Commission to being a walking tour guide for the Cranbury Historic and Preservation Society.
This year she led the Mayor’s Walk to School to encourage kids to focus on safety and health. Rogers and her husband, Bob, raised their three children – William, Ginny, and Ally – in Cranbury. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, playing tennis and spending time with her neighbors.
Spann was elected to the Cranbury Township Committee in 2019 while serving in her fourth term on the Cranbury Board of Education (BOE) from 2008 to 2019. For the BOE, she was the Facilities Committee chair and the representative to Princeton Public Schools.
She helped guide both boards through the “send receive agreement” and a later start time at the high school. In the past two and a half years with the township, Spann served on various boards and committees including Planning, Development Review Committee, Traffic, and as chairman of the Zoning Committee, which focuses on land use laws.
She served as liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission as well as the Environmental Commission. Currently, Spann said she is focused on mitigating the high volume of truck traffic.
A graduate of the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, she was formerly a polymer chemist and is currently on the campaign trail seeking re-election to the Township Committee.
Spann said she and her husband of 32 years enjoy spending time with family and fishing year round.
Why are you running for a seat, or re-election, to the Township Committee?
Knierim: “I want to give back to the community and use the skills that I have,” she said. “Through my EDAC work, I have had the opportunity to learn more about municipal finances and how we can make the best choices to ensure a high quality of living for all.”
Knierim said her skills in the business sector are ones she can rely on to help ensure the long-term financial health of the town.
“While I want to get my message out there, the cornerstone of my campaign is listening, listening to my neighbors regardless of party affiliation and paying attention to what they care about so that, if I am elected, I can focus on what matters most,” she said.
Rogers: “I am running for a second term on the Township Committee because my first term was incredibly rewarding and because I have so many projects I want to keep moving forward,” she said. “That includes everything from initiating a bike network plan to pushing for engineering and nature-based solutions that can help us increase our town’s flood resiliency and improve our stormwater infrastructure.”
Rogers said there is “a steep learning curve” once on the Township Committee.
“Over time you learn your role and what you can and can’t do, which allows you to be more effective overall,” she said. “I want to put all I have learned to good use so I can continue giving back to the Cranbury community.”
Spann: “Because I have momentum,” she said.
What is the top challenge facing Cranbury? How would you address it as a member of the Township Committee?
Knierim: “In a world where the economy, the environment, and the way we communicate are all shifting, balancing progress and preservation has become the top challenge facing Cranbury,” she said. “I am a fact-based, data driven person. If I am elected, I would encourage the Township Committee to conduct a town-wide survey to determine what residents really want us to focus on. We have to ensure all voices are heard especially the voices of those who live outside the downtown area and set priorities based on information rather than intuition.”
In a post pandemic world, collective aspirations and goals may be shifting.
“As a leader of the community, I would take it as my responsibility to respond to those needs with thoughtfulness, compassion and organization,” she said. “I think that is what public service is about.”
Rogers: “When I ran for Township Committee three years ago, I focused on environmental sustainability, fiscal responsibility and public health and safety,” she said. “We’re doing well in all these areas, but there is still room for improvement.”
Those are the challenges Rogers said she will continue to prioritize.
“I have built relationships with officials from other towns as well as Middlesex County and I have realized any solutions to these issues require both local and regional efforts,” she said. “Any time you are focusing on environmental sustainability and building resiliency you are automatically addressing public health and finances. I will continue to have our municipality support the NJ Board of Public Utilities Community Solar Program that has the potential to reduce energy bills for Cranbury residents as well as reducing our carbon footprint.”
The program encourages businesses to place solar panels on the tops of local warehouses and generate local, renewable energy, Rogers said.
“Similarly, I worked to get us a municipal energy audit, for free, through the New Jersey Clean Energy program,” she said “The auditors evaluated three of our municipal buildings and made recommendations for possible energy efficiency improvements that will provide cost savings for the town.”
If elected, Rogers said she would like to continue to work on getting recommendations implemented.
“There are several initiatives for southern Middlesex County that are in their initial stages, which I am excited to continue to be involved in,” she said. “They include a freight movement study and a flood mitigation and resiliency initiative. Overall, I want to keep making strategic decisions and identify initiatives that bring financial as well as environmental benefits to all residents.”
Spann: “Cranbury will experience significant change in the next seven years, but there has never been a better time to live in Cranbury,” she said. “The [Route] 130 traffic circle will be a traffic light, the area around the circle will be developed. Our community will have a new free-standing library, a 55-plus community, park improvements and the school will have a performing arts center.”
Spann said it is important to her that the impact of all of the projects stay in line with the township’s historic character, be mindful of its small community school and be considerate of its residents.
“Our boards are very aware of the same and I want to continue driving this positive vision for a better quality of life for our residents and visitors to our town,” she said.