WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES FOR INTERIM MAYOR

On Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 6:00 P.M. the Somerville Borough Council will conduct
public interviews of the three Republican candidates for Interim Mayor.

With cameras in the room from VilleTV and SoVille, the Somerville public will have an
opportunity to “meet” the candidates and gain a bit of insight into who they are and what they
have accomplished.

Regrettably, this did not happen with the selection of a deserving Ran D Pitts as Councilman
to replace Steve Peter. At the special Council meeting on January 8, 2018, the all-Democrat
Council voted without public interview to appoint Councilman Pitts. With those same two
cameras in the room, the public had no opportunity to find out who the three candidates are
and for what they stand. The first major decision made by the new Council was made behind
closed doors, a frightening prospect for the year to come.

The candidates for Interim Mayor to be interviewed on Tuesday are Ellen Brain, Hank Werner,
and former Councilman Jason Kraska.

Ellen Brain has been a member of the Board of Adjustment since 2005, served on the Library
Board and the Regional Animal Shelter. She is an adjunct English professor at Raritan Valley
Community College following a long and productive corporate career.

Hank Werner has been a police officer since March of 1990, currently serving on the Bernards
Township Police Force assigned to patrol, traffic, community policing, and teaching the Law
Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) program at the middle school.

Jason Kraska served on Somerville Borough Council from March of 2015 to December 31,
2017 acting as Police Commissioner, Liaison to DPW, Recreation, Youth Services, Municipal
Alliance, Regional Center Partnership, Gaston Ave Redevelopment, Complete Streets, and
Board of Health. He started Annual Turkey Trot 5K, raising over $10,000.00 thus far for
Somerville senior recreation programs. He also spearheaded the initiative to revitalize South
Side Park.

So How Does Somerville Choose Its Next Mayor

With the resignation of Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher on Friday, January 5, 2018, prior to his taking the oath of office as Somerset County Freeholder, a process will begin to select his
replacement.

As of the submission of his resignation, the Council President, Granville Brady, will assume the
additional position as Acting Mayor. This title affords Acting Mayor Brady limited power, with no ability to make or change Mayoral appointments. He will run meetings and oversee the process of selecting the Interim Mayor.

The Somerville Municipal Committee is empowered to select three potential candidates who will be screened by Borough Council, selecting one of the individuals to serve. This process must take place within 15 days of the day that Mayor Gallagher resigns.

The Municipal Committee met in early December and screened five potential candidates. The three who were selected are former Councilman Jason Kraska, Board of Adjustment Member Ellen Brain, and Hank Werner, Somerville resident and Bernards Township police officer.

The Interim Mayor will be sworn in following selection by Council and will serve in Interim capacity until the November, 2018 election results are certified. At that time, the candidate who won the Mayoral election will be sworn in and will serve the remainder of Mayor Gallagher’s term, ending on January 1, 2020.

The candidate who is victorious in the November, 2019 election will be sworn in on January 1, 2020, hopefully serving out a four-year term.

In addition, with the recent resignation of Councilman Steve Peter to assume his new position as Somerset County Clerk, the Somerville Democrat party has the same responsibility to fill his seat.

Somerville government will be quite interesting in the coming months and years but I have faith that everyone making these important decisions are making them in the best interest of the Borough of Somerville and its residents and businesses.

2018 Reorganization Meeting

Mayor Brian Gallagher presided over the borough’s annual reorganization meeting on New Year’s Day at the Somerville High School auditorium. Dennis Sullivan and Fred Wied were sworn in to Borough Council by new County Clerk Steve Peter. Granville Brady received the nod as council president for the coming year. With great pride Mayor Gallagher presented the 2017 Citizen of the Year Award to Fr. Ron Pollock of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Fire Chief Presentations and Oaths were administered by Clerk-Administrator, Kevin Sluka. Before over 100 committee and liaison appointments were recognized, Mayor Gallagher administered his bittersweet farewell address. With an unmatched love for Somerville, he left us with message that will echo though the years. 

"It is the goal of every Mayor to leave the borough in better shape then when they came into office. I hope that my history proves that true. But today's address is not so much about the physical structure and success of Somerville, It is about the people. After you have been mayor for as long as I have, you realize that the true success points are people. And it's not about controlling people, It's about letting them run with their ideas. It's not about saying no. It's about how we can get to yes. and it's not about identity politics, it's about how can we get it done for Somerville."

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