By MARTA ESQUÍROZ For The Leader/Times
CRANFORD — Newcomer Kathleen Rappa defeated incumbent Thomas H. Hannen, Jr. in Tuesday’s Primary Election for the Democratic nomination for township committee. The Cranford Democratic Committee chose Ms. Rappa as its nominee over Mr. Hannen, current commissioner of public works and engineering.
According to unofficial vote tallies, Ms. Rappa obtained 1,166 votes against the 921 votes for Mr. Hannen.
“Overall, I think the number I am more excited about is the people that we got out to vote in a Primary. It’s outstanding,” Ms. Rappa said.
Being a newcomer to politics, Ms. Rappa said that she “never took anything for granted in this entire race.” She pointed out that the key to her campaign was “to know how to use my network…to meet with so many people,” and to “stay focused about the future.
“The thing that I am most proud of about our campaign is that we were very positive and focused on what was our vision for Cranford. But we also kept in mind what we wanted to achieve if I were to be elected,” Ms. Rappa stated.
Asked about her success in the Primary, Ms. Rappa said she believes that it was due to her sharing “a lot of concerns and goals” with the people of Cranford.
She added that the issues she discussed with many residents were related to “street safety and more accessibility in the township,” such as speed-control measures and biking, the environment and “the development projects.”
Facing the new stage of the campaign, the Democratic candidate expressed her excitement as she thanked the voters who “expressed their support” for her.
“Thank you to every person who opened the door when I knocked and for sharing their opinions and vision for the town,” Ms. Rappa remarked.
On the other side of the election, Commissioner Hannen extended his “congratulations to Ms. Rappa,” and announced his retirement from politics at the end of his term this year. He described this election as “an uphill battle that was difficult to run off the line.
“I did the best I could, and I think we raised some issues,” Mr. Hannen said, adding that he felt he “ran a campaign to be proud of.
“I have had the honor of serving the citizens of Cranford for eight and a half incredible years. For that, I am extremely grateful,” said Mr. Hannen.
The commissioner underscored that “the citizens have spoken and made their choice,” and that he will “continue to look out for their interest” to keep the “balance of the year the way I started.”
“For the citizens that had spoken out, hopefully, they still do it and make their voices and opinions heard because local government is a pure form of government,” Mr. Hannen said.
With her Primary victory, Ms. Rappa will now face the Republican candidate, Regina Gina Black, in the November General Election.