Three Democratic Party nominees are running unopposed for Lawrence Township Council

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Three Democratic Party nominees, including incumbent Lawrence Township Councilman John Ryan, are seeking election to the Lawrence Township Council in an uncontested race.

Ryan is being joined by Patricia Hendricks Farmer and Olympia I’Liou Perry for three open seats on Township Council in the Nov. 7 general election. The term is for three years.

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Township Council members Michael Powers and Catherin MacDuff are not seeking re-election. Powers is completing his fifth term on Township Council, and MacDuff is filling out an unexpired term.

The Republican Party did not field candidates for Township Council. The five members are Democrats.

Ryan, who is serving in the ceremonial role of mayor for 2022 and 2023, is seeking his second term on Township Council. He was appointed to fill out an unexpired term in 2019 and won election to a full term in 2020.

Ryan said he is running for another term for the same reason that he ran for his first full term – to keep Lawrence Township affordable while maintaining the level of infrastructure and services that make it a desirable place to live.

“All of that boils down to how we allocate our (municipal) tax dollars. As that task becomes more challenging, I do feel that our approach to municipal taxation must become more exhaustive and holistic,” he said.

Ryan favors taking a line-by-line approach to reviewing the municipal budget. Chipping away or redirecting appropriations would help to fight the rising costs of services in the township, he said.

In his second term, Ryan said he would like to improve how the township communicates with residents. An important step has been live-streaming the Township Council meetings, but more can be done, he said.

“From more informative meeting agendas for citizens to step-by-step guides for businesses on how to file permits and applications, we need to bring Lawrence Township into the 21st century of communications and transparency,” Ryan said.

The most important issue facing Lawrence Township is how it navigates development in a post-pandemic world, he said. The challenge is how to find a balance so there isn’t overdevelopment in one area while also finding areas that could be developd.

“The difficult task of encouraging the construction of more commercial ratables and attracting businesses distills down to how we encourage those things in a smart way,” Ryan said.

Ryan pointed to the proliferation of warehouses in New Jersey. There is an economic and logistical need for them, but the public safety and health of residents and the environment must come first, he said.

“Projects like the Bridge Point 8 warehouses in West Windsor Township (on the Lawrence Township border) are an example of where those considerations are not being made,” he said.

Ryan said that he would use everything in his power to see to it that any proposed development in Lawrence Township or in neighboring towns is beneficial to Lawrence residents, and not a detriment.

Farmer and her running mate, Olympia I’liou Perry, are long-term residents of Lawrence Township.

Farmer grew up in Lawrence Township and graduated from Lawrence High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations from Temple University. She works for the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township.

Farmer said she wants to serve on the Township Council because it is the next logical step in community involvement. She has volunteered with the Eggerts Crossing Civic League and the Lawrence Neighbors Together group.

Farmer said her parents, aunts, cousin and two of her brothers have been active and dedicated servants in the Lawrence Township community.

Farmer herself is completing a three-year term on the Lawrence Township Public Schools Board of Education. She is the school board president.

“Service is in my blood. My parents taught me civic engagement and how to use my voice. They were very active and instrumental in the lives of my six siblings,” Farmer said.

“I would love to join my family’s ranks. It’s really exciting to work for – and with – the community of Lawrence Township,” Farmer said.

During her term on Township Council, Farmer said she would like to promote community engagement and participation. She also would like to implement economic opportunities in the township.

She said she would like to maintain healthy environments, such as parks and trails, and to also introduce more opportunities for art and culture.

“There is still much that needs to be done, and I would like to be a part of that,” Farmer said.

Perry has lived in Lawrence Township for 21 years. She is a political aide for Mercer County Commissioner Cathleen Lewis, who is a former Township Council member and mayor.

Perry said she is running for Township Council because she wants to protect the quality of life in Lawrence. She wants to work with the council and Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski to bring in affordable housing.

She also wants to maintain high quality services and reasonable property taxes. She said she would like to address ‘”as best as possible” the issues facing the community. She wants to bring thriving businesses to Lawrence Township without sacrificing the environment.

Perry is the president of the Lawrence Township Democratic Club, and has also volunteered with Dress for Success-Mercer County as a financial literacy instructor. She is working with West Windsor Township residents to stop warehouse development in the community.

“My goal is to make our town a great place for a diverse group of citizens to live, work, raise their families and thrive as a community,” Perry said.

“I am committed to the challenge of working hard to ensure Lawrence Township residents are proud and happy to live in this town.”

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