Bernards Township Republicans have picked Somerset County GOP state committeewoman Janice Fields as the organization candidate for township committee.
Fields was the choice of the screening committee in a matchup with former mayor Al LiCata for the seat of retiring mayor Carol Bianchi.
“Bernards is rich in talent and full of residents who love living here. We take seriously our role to select qualified Republican candidates to run for office who intend to keep Bernards a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Bernards Republican municipal chairman Richard Bianchi. “I also want to extend appreciation to Al LiCata for seeking our endorsement. Both candidates expressed a deep admiration for our community and an eagerness to serve.”
Democrats are expected to mount a strong effort to pick up a second seat after Joan Bannan Harris broke the all-Republican hold on the governing body in 2018.
Bernards is also a key town in the 21st legislative district, where Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) are expected to face a tough re-election campaign.
“As a leader, one must be willing to stand up and advocate for their community. The residents of Bernards deserve an open government and a seat at the table. Without our voices, any decisions made will not be the strongest. I pledge as their leader that they will have that opportunity,” said Fields, a 27-year township resident. “I will work side by side with our residents for true fiscal responsibility and greater opportunities for our community to engage in government.”
Fields currently chairs the Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women and is involved in numerous local organizations. In 2016 she was the recipient of the Somerset County Federation of Republican Women Millicent Fenwick Award.
“Through my involvement in our community, I have become a strong voice for women, and enjoy mentoring and educating them on becoming fearless leaders,” Fields said. “Women offer an important perspective that is underrepresented in our government and now more than ever we need the unique contributions their perspectives offer. I hope my candidacy will inspire other women from diverse backgrounds to stand up and be a part of the conversation on the political stage.”
Once a Republican stronghold, Bernards Township has become a GOP-leaning town in recent years.
Hillary Clinton edged out Donald Trump by 117 votes in 2016. The following year, Kim Guadagno carried Bernards in the race for governor by 1,055 votes over Phil Murphy.
Voters split their ticket in 2018. Democrat Tom Malinowski a narrow 93-vote plurality over five-term Rep. Leonard Lance last year, while GOP U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin outpolled incumbent Bob Menendez by 1,279 votes.
In the 2014 mid-term elections, Republican Jeff Bell won Bernards by 1,634 votes against U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Lance carried the township by 2,546 votes.