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Lawrence Township Council {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Lawrence Township adopted a Council-Manager form of government in 1970. The Council is composed of five part-time members, each elected on a partisan basis, serving for a four-year term. Due to overlapping terms, elections for Council are held every 2 years. The Town Manager and Town Clerk attend all Town Council Meetings, the latter serving as Secretary and as custodian of all minutes, ordinances, resolutions, bonds, deeds and contracts.

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  • Candidate picture

    Cathleen M. Lewis
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Robert T. Pluta
    (Rep)

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    Michael S. Powers
    (Dem)

  • John Ryan
    (Dem)

  • Joseph A. Vinch
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Philip Joseph Vinch III
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What skills and experiences qualify you to serve on the Lawrence Township Council?

International Overdose Awareness Day focuses on providing information on the risk of prescription opioid overdose and the availability of community services to prevent drug-related harm. What are your thoughts on holding an International Overdose Awareness Day event in Lawrence Township?

What limits should there be on business, residential and land development in Lawrence Township? What plan for growth would you propose?

What components of the Township budget would you advocate to be increased, and what components would you advocate to be decreased? Please explain your answer.

Strong cyber security is critical to the uninterrupted functioning of any town. Cyber security includes the protection and back-up of police department records, municipal records, Town Council meeting records, township historical records, and citizenship data of any kind. What changes, if any, would you propose to ensure the cyber security of Lawrence Township?

Lawrence is a great community in which to live and work but there is much untapped potential. Many community members continue to feel disconnected, throughout my tenure I have worked to encourage more interaction with the township. I hosted the first Town Hall Open House and encouraged more groups to participate in township activities. I advocated for the township to have a presence on social media. I also continue to work to enhance our connectivity with residents and always look for more ways for residents to participate and engage. We also need to attract more businesses, encouraging sustainable, multimodal infrastructure enhancements to make businesses more accessible to residents who are biking and walking. I have worked on these issues across the state and continue to advocate for them on a local level. Lastly, this town continues to grow and the next generation of Lawrence residents need to connect to this township in new ways. As a young mother I bring a unique perspective to council and to this effort.
Opioid Overdoses are a frightening reality of our times and we need to work on a variety of fronts, which is why I was happy to support the resolution naming Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day. But we need to continue to do more to increase awareness of the problem and to work to identify ways to reduce opioid use. I have worked on a variety of issues regarding how to better address impaired driving to reduce the number of drivers impaired by opioids. We also need to work with the schools, particularly the athletic departments, to increase awareness of opioid addiction. Sadly many teenagers first introduction to opioids is a prescription after a sports injury, education parents and teens have the impact that such prescriptions can have and the alternatives is an important step to reduce opioid abuse.
The town needs proactive leadership to reach out to businesses and showing them why Lawrence is a great place to work and establish a business. That’s why I have fought for years to have a position dedicated to that pursuit and I am pleased that this year we have been able to establish a position for this purpose. Development is about balance - there are few areas in need of new development, but there are areas where redevelopment is appropriate. Redevelopment should include plans to connect residents to businesses through multimodal transportation links. Additionally, finding a way to offer local restaurants the ability to serve beer and wine is an important way to boost the local economy and create stability for community-based restaurants and shopping centers. For the last six years I’ve chaired a statewide task force looking to create comprehensive change to the statewide laws to provide ways to invest in local businesses without devaluing current licenses.
Last year we were able to find ways to reduce administrative costs for Affordable Housing and then use those savings to create a part time Business advocate position, that position will not only help local businesses but will hopefully increase ratables in town in the long run. Those are the types of savings and increase I work to find in the budget.

We have challenges ahead of us - a significant portion of our police force will be eligible for retirement in the coming years, we must plan ahead to invest in new recruits to ensure proper training and continuity in the department. We also need to do so without significantly increasing the budget.

We need to continue to advocate for changes on the state level - the township continues to have cover the unfunded portion of the school and county portion of property taxes - that often creates a need for increases out of our control and does not address township needs. Fixing the school funding formulas and increases shared services between schools and the township would help reduce those costs.
Data breeches are a new security threat everywhere. We need to ensure that our staff is properly trained and that the training is continually updated. It's important to have redundancies and strong password protections, all of which are currently part of the township plan. The township currently invests in high quality IT security and should continue to work to ensure that we are always ahead of the curve when it comes to cyber security.
Campaign Email robertpluta@hotmail.com
As a local small business owner for the past 15 years, I understand the ups and downs of the economy, and the stresses that come with providing good products and services at a reasonable cost. Running a town should be like running a business, but with YOUR money. I was raised in Lawrence, live in Lawrence and own a business in Lawrence. Most days I can be found in my restaurant which gives me the privilege of talking to Lawrence residents every day. I want to be YOUR public servant.
Yes, I absolutely would support holding an International Overdose Awareness Day in Lawrence Township.
I think Lawrence is already tapped out in terms of more development, so we need to make better use of existing development. If you drive down the southern end of Route One, you will see many empty storefronts. I support having a full time business advocate on staff at town hall to attract and facilitate the process of businesses moving into Lawrence. Also, I am opposed to the placement of multifamily housing next to the beautiful Brearley House. We spent close to $800,000 to restore this beautiful historic site. Lets not ruin it by placing housing next to it. We can find a more suitable location.
As a fiscal conservative, I am a firm believer in zero based budgeting where every item is reviewed and justified each year, regardless of how much has been allocated in previous years. Since the 2% limit on raises for Local Police and Fire unions has expired, the town needs to successfully negotiate contracts which both compensate the hard work of our local Police and Fire while at the same time keeping the tax rate in check.
I would do a thorough review of our cyber practices each year to ensure that our documents and information are protected against any threats. By working closely with the town manager, police chief, and town clerk, we can ensure that we are using best practices to safeguard all our data and information.
Campaign Email mpowers326@yahoo.com
I believe my 15 years of experience on the Township Council and two terms as Mayor of Lawrence Township uniquely qualifies with the institutional knowledge we need on the governing body. The critical thinking skills and public speaking skills that I have developed during my 25 years as an attorney have been an asset to the Council and will continue to be should I be re-elected to the Council. Finally, I think one of my best skills is my ability to be a good listener.
I have had the pleasure of working with Lawrence League of Women Voters member Ellen Maak to introduce and have adopted at our September 17th Township Council meeting a Proclamation declaring October 6, 2019 “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” in Lawrence Township to raise awareness on the dangers of a prescription opioid overdose. Therefore, I fully support holding events in Lawrence Township, like the one at the Lawrence Township Community Day on October 6th, and more formal events to educate residents on this issue and the availability of community services to prevent drug-related harm. Lawrence residents are free to drop off unused prescription medications at our Police & Courts Building to further reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse or injury in our community.
With the acquisition of the Sheft property on Colonial Lake, fully 26% of Lawrence Township is permanently preserved as open space for our children and our children’s grandchildren to passively and actively enjoy. Therefore, we need to focus on redevelopment rather than new development in Lawrence. Redeveloping existing commercial properties such as the Lawrence Shopping Center remains a top priority. Attracting businesses such as the Lidl grocery store will help to bring in much-needed foot traffic to the Lawrence Shopping Center. The township must continue to be pro-active in addressing the concerns of the business community (A-frame business signs, etc.) while also responding to resident concerns when a development (such as a hotel on Colonial Lake) is proposed that is not the best use for a particular area of the township.
Since President Trump and the IRS capped our ability to deduct from our federal taxes the local property tax portion above $10,000, the component of the Budget that I always seek to decrease as a member of the Council is the tax burden on our residents. However, we must also balance taxes against the quality of services Lawrence residents have come to enjoy and expect to be included in our municipal budget, some of which other towns in Mercer County do NOT provide to their residents such as brush pick up or trash removal. Although the township budget already contains many shared services programs with Mercer County, surrounding towns and private parties, I am always seeking to increase these shared services opportunities in our township budget.
By law, certain records must be maintained and are maintained by Lawrence Township. Although some township records are publicly available online (Township budgets, Agendas, Committee Minutes, etc.), other sensitive records such as police department records are maintained in a secure location within the municipal complex. Although no institution is immune from a cyber attack, the township already employs the latest and most advanced anti-virus protection software and other security measures to minimize this risk and combat against a cyber attack.
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Campaign Email pjvinch@gmail.com
My life as a single father, ups and downs of business life and charitable work has given me a unique perspective on life. It cant be all dollars and cents when you are elected to a government seat. Having to be flexible in business and dealing with different personalities, businesses and governmental agencies will allow me to make, what I feel, to be decisions in the best interest of the residences of Lawrence Township.
I am single parent to a child of a heroin addicted mother. I am ALL for any awareness that will help curb or shed light on overdose victims.
We need to shift the tax burden from residential to business entities, without hurting the businesses we attract here. My plan is to plan properly and push for the business development of the route one and alternate route one corridor as a technology ally. We offer an educated workforce, less expensive property than our neighbors to the north and closer proximity to Trenton that most. I will aggressively push for the development of these properties.
Our administration salaries have gotten out of control and it needs a diet. Paying some $4,000 per WEEK, for a civil service job, is, in my opinion insane. I would increase the salaries of the poor and middle class workers, teachers, and a better stipend for our volunteer fireman. They are the ones that need the most help and they are the ones that effect our lives more than any administration could.
Paper Paper Paper. You cant hack paper. It is more expensive to keep paper records, when it comes to peoples information there is nothing safer. With information that we must make digital, you must prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Hire a good firm, make sure they are bonded for any breach they let occur. This is the best we can do