Observer Tribune 20-March-2019
HARDING TWP. – Amanda Richardson, chairwoman of the Harding Township Democratic Committee, is running for a three-year seat on the Township Committee.
The Woodland Road resident will be on the ballot for the Tuesday, June 4, primary and the general election ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Richardson plans to run in the November general election against GOP Committeeman Nicolas Platt. Platt said he plans to run for what would be his fourth term on the Township Committee. No other candidates have announced their intentions to date. The deadline for ling to run in the primary is Monday, April 1.
Platt was chosen by the then-Township Committee to replace Republican Jim Rybka, who resigned abruptly in 2009. Platt then ran for election, and was elected to another two, three- year terms.
Richardson said in a statement that she has received the Democratic committee’s unanimous endorsement at a meeting last Wednesday night.
“Harding is an oasis in New Jersey: a small-town community that has kept its character with a commitment to preserving open space and keeping taxes low,” Richardson said. “This is what brought my family here over 30 years ago and it is why I returned to Harding with my husband to raise our family here.
“Growing up in this idyllic place, with the Great Swamp in my backyard, inspired my work on land and resource rights. As I embark on this campaign and as a Township Committee member, I pledge to preserve Harding’s rural character, to maintain its low taxes and scal discipline, and to move forward with a respectful campaign and healthy debate focused on the issues,” she said
Richardson and her husband, Matt Eckman, have a son, Henry, 2.
She is a lawyer, having graduated from Amherst College and Columbia University Law School. She founded a non-profit organization, Resource Equity (resourceequity.org), that is focused on promoting women’s rights to land and resources in developing countries.
Richardson was elected to the Democratic County Committee in 2016 and quickly became a leader of the resurgent Harding Township Democratic Committee that emerged as part of the anti-Trump blue wave that culminated in the election of Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-11, in November.
Richardson was elected vice chair of the Harding Township Democratic Organization in January 2017 and was elected chair last June. She managed the unsuccessful Township Committee campaigns of Rhonda Allen and Kate Barry in 2017 and 2018.
“The candidacies of Rhonda and Kate highlighted the benefits of bi-partisan debate and representation in the township and brought a voice to those in Harding who do not currently feel represented,” Richardson said. “With open debate and a healthy competition of ideas from varying perspectives, democracy thrives. I look forward to engaging in a vigorous dialogue on the complex issues facing our community in the years ahead.
“We are a small town with big issues: implementation of our affordable housing obligation, the Verizon cell tower at the recycling center, the future of Glen Alpin, and, inevitably, others that will likely arise in the future.
“We need to do everything we can to engage all of our neighbors in the decisions of the Township Committee that can affect their daily lives and their property values. As a member of the Township Committee, I will bring my professional experience and education to discharge my responsibilities.
“As a co-founder of my non-prot organization, I have experience running a business, from budgeting and managing contractors and employees, to negotiating contracts and implementing major projects. As a lawyer, I have experience parsing and crafting laws, regulations, and resolutions.
“Equally important for my role on the Township Committee, I have extensive experience working with and listening to communities to help bring them the assistance they most need,” she said.
Richardson said Harding is changing politically.
“Growing up, I viewed Harding as a Republican town. Today, the political spectrum is broader, as evidenced by the results of the 2018 election. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many people have become very active participants in not only our Democratic Committee, but also as enthusiastic citizens in other groups such as the Harding Non-Partisans,” Richardson said.
“Harding residents are more engaged and aware of the need for transparency and bipartisanship as key components to successful local government
“Positive change has begun. During their campaign, Kate (Barry) and Rhonda (Allen) provided data showing the lack of broad representation on the township boards and commissions. Kate has since been appointed to the Environmental Commission, which has increased representation to two Democrats.
“One of the goals of my campaign is to continue push for more inclusion and transparency as vacancies on these commissions and boards are filled,” she said.
Barry is Richardson’s campaign manager and Molly Riley is treasurer.
“As Harding evolves, bringing together long-time residents and relative newcomers, I am committed to ensuring that all residents feel heard and represented. It is at the local level that many of the decisions that most aect our lives are made,” Richardson said. “These are not partisan issues. We need to move our Township Committee to a more collaborative, open, and transparent process by taking steps beyond the required legal notices and agenda postings to ensure eective communication and understanding among all of our residents. Giving all residents the information they need to evaluate how decisions aect them and the opportunity to be heard before those decisions are made would be a major focus of my tenure on the committee.”