Candidates Night for candidates running for the two seats available on the Cranbury Township Committee is still on despite Republican candidates Evelyn Spann and Barbara Wright declining to participate.
The candidate’s night is hosted by the Woman’s Club of Cranbury in partnership with the Cranbury Public Library and will be held virtually through Zoom at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11.
Democrats Lisa Knierim and Mayor Barbara Rogers are facing Spann and Wright in the November general election on Nov. 8.
Both Spann, who is seeking re-election to the Township Committee, and Wright, who is seeking her first term on the governing body, declined to participate in the Candidates Night due to the decision by the Woman’s Club of Cranbury to hold the election event virtual this year.
“We met back in September to discuss the ‘in person’ status to see if they might change to in person. They had a few reasons for keeping it virtual [the library wasn’t completed, more people would have the opportunity to attend] and we respect that,” Spann said.
“They are the host. However, now that the township government has returned to in person meetings, in person is more congruous with the position we are running for.”
Spann noted that while she and Wright would be happy to participate in person for Candidates Night, they will not be attending the virtual Candidates Night.
The previous two Candidates Nights in 2020 and 2021 were held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The original plan for 2022 was to hold Candidates Night at the newly constructed Cranbury Public Library, however, with construction delays realized in late July, early August the new library building has not yet received its certificate of occupancy.
“We switched our planning back to a zoom format. The Executive Board of the Woman’s Club approved of this change in format,” said Kristie Venanzi, co-chairwoman at the Woman’s Club for Civic Engagement and president of the Library Board of Trustees. “In August, we sent out invitations to the four candidates inviting them to participate, informing them of date and the zoom format.”
Venanzi added they did look into reserving the Large Group Room at Cranbury School back in June should the library construction be delayed, but the online school reservation system was not available at that time.
She went on to check in September to see if the Large Group Room was available through the school’s online calendar for Oct. 11.
“The school calendar mentioned a PTO meeting with no time listed,” Venanzi said.
She noted that the option was not pursued further following the September check on the Large Group Room’s availability and has since learned that it might have been available.
Venanzi acknowledged that within the last three weeks, there has been discussion with some of the candidates saying that they do not want to participate if the program is not in person.
“We do still hope that all the candidates will participate but are prepared to continue with the program as scheduled,” she said. “On a positive side, the zoom format does reach a larger audience than our in-person format could provide.”
Democratic candidates, Rogers, who is seeking re-election, and Knierim, who is vying for her first term on the Township Committee, have confirmed to The Cranbury Press that they will be participating in the Oct. 11 forum.
“Of course I will be attending. I am thrilled to meet more residents of Cranbury, listen to their concerns and hopes for our town, and for everyone to get to know me better,” Knierim said.
“Anytime I am given an opportunity to speak with residents, I accept it gladly. I think it’s important to make every effort to attend an event like this,” Rogers said. “I have good ideas and want to share them, and I always welcome a discussion with residents about their priorities and suggestions on issues impacting Cranbury.”
Loida Wilson, a member of the Civic Engagement Committee, will be moderator for Candidates Night.
Diana Wiebers, president of the Cranbury Woman’s Club, will also give some remarks to begin the evening forum event.
Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to reflect additional information provided about reserving the Large School Room at The Cranbury School.