It is expected that Chad Goerner, the Bayard Lane resident who defeated Scott Carver in the June 6 primary elections, will be appointed to carry out Mr. Hearon's term, which expires December 31, whereupon Mr. Goerner will be sworn in at Township Committee's -annual -organization meeting for a proper three-year term.
State law stipulates that in the event of a vacancy, three candidates be put forth for consideration by the municipal party committee. As Mr. Hearon is a Democrat, the Princeton Township Democratic Committee (PTDC) was charged with producing three possible candidates. Mr. Goerner is the one likely to be chosen, as his November election is all but certain since there are no Republicans on the ballot. But however nominal their candidacies may be, the other two candidates, Toshi Abe of Walnut Lane and David Blair of Princeton-Kingston Road, have vowed to appear before Township Committee, while simultaneously endorsing Mr. Goerner.
"The entire time, it was an open process, and I want to emphasize that," said PTDC Chair Dan Preston, adding that while Mr. Hearon's situation may have confused the process, the fact remains that there were party representatives willing to fill both the vacancy, and the seat that comes with a full Committee term.
Mr. Blair's name has been associated with the Township Democratic party for decades. A former member of Township Committee serving from January 1977 through December 1981, Mr. Blair said he fully supports Mr. Goerner's appointment to the Committee vacancy, but that his presence on the Township's list of potential appointees is a bit more than nominal: "Here they are, they don't have enough names, the law says you've got to have three, and everybody is pretty darn certain it's going to be Chad, but now what do you do?
"This is no subversion of the democratic process; we all know what's going to happen, but this is a very logical, pragmatic thing to do," Mr. Blair said. "I'm very glad to get the process on the road. I like to do things for the party."
Mr. Blair said the process has been "cumbersome" at times, but that "it's a good process." All said, Mr. Blair added, the fact that a number of individuals Mr. Abe, Mr. Carver, Mr. Goerner, and himself stepped forward for vacancy consideration was a feat in and of itself: "It's amazing while the parties won't admit it, typically it's difficult to get one person to run in an election."
Additionally, those seeking party support for the full term in the fall elections included all of the above candidates (except Mr. Blair) as well as Leabrook Lane resident Ed Greenblat and Robert Ross of Stockton Street.
For Mr. Blair, a Democrat who saw Township Committee go from Democratic majority to Republican majority in the four years he served nearly three decades ago, the chance to participate even while on vacation in Nova Scotia is something not to be scoffed at, and while he will not be in attendance this Monday when Township Committee likely appoints Mr. Goerner to its vacant seat, the entire process has been "an interesting exercise in open government."
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