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Franklin Township Mayor Phil Kramer Named 2020 Franklin Reporter & Advocate Man of the Year

Mayor Phil Kramer is the Franklin Reporter & Advocate’s 2020 Man of the Year. (File Photo.)

It has been quite a year.

None of us thought when we were ringing in 2020 that we would be ringing it out in the middle of a pandemic that has caused the deaths of at least 168 of our Franklin neighbors, sickened hundreds more and thrown a wrench into so many of our financial situations.

But here we are.

In times such as these, we look for a person who can give us hope, who can help lead us to that proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel,” and who can do it in such a way that inspires confidence and a willingness to make necessary sacrifices.

We are lucky enough in Franklin Township to have such a person in our Mayor, Phil Kramer. And it is Mayor Kramer’s actions taken to help his constituents – his neighbors, after all – during this pandemic that has led us to name him the Franklin Reporter & Advocate Man of the Year for 2020.

Mayor Kramer is not only an astute politician, he’s also a medical doctor. His profession and his employment in a regional hospital give him a unique perspective on COVID-19, and on the horrible toll it takes on its victims and their loved ones.

It’s safe to say that most, if not all, of us here in the Eight Villages have had some contact with coronavirus, either as a survivor, or as a family member or friend of a victim or survivor. We’ve all had to deal with the measures taken to protect ourselves from catching this virus, and it’s also safe to say we are tired of it.

But Phil Kramer, both in his role as a physician and as the political leader of our township, can’t afford to be tired. He doesn’t have the luxury of throwing up his hands and telling us all to deal with it as best we can.

He knew that his private and public life choices demanded that he take a more proactive role, and he did.

From late February, when there were only 15 confirmed cases in the country, Mayor Kramer took to his Facebook page to disseminate information to ease the Franklin public’s minds.

As the pandemic spread and hit Franklin in mid-March, the Mayor was regularly posting to his page updates, information he received during his conference calls with Somerset County officials, and general information on the coronavirus.

“Treat everyone you meet as if they have the virus,” became Kramer’s mantra, along with “Don’t touch your face!”

Kramer soon began a series of live-streamed Town Halls, during which people dealing with various aspects of the pandemic were brought on as guests to speak on their expertise and take questions from the public and the press.

All of Kramer’s actions were designed to allay some of the panic his residents may have been feeling as the coronavirus pushed its way into Franklin Township.


Read about previous People of the Year here.


And he wasn’t just about the talk. Mayor Kramer worked to get a robust testing program into the township, which now has tested thousands of Franklin residents.

Alex Kharazi, founder of the Franklin Township Interfaith Council, worked with Kramer on establishing that testing program.

“Over 12,000 community members have so far taken advantage of this free service,” Kharazi said in an email.

“He truly sets the best example of having sympathy and caring about fellow community members,” Kharazi wrote. “Besides raising awareness about COVID-19 dangers through his Townhall meetings … he brought together people and organizations of like mind to raise awareness about the dangers of COVID-19 and the importance of early testing to curb the spread of the virus!”

Kramer’s efforts also did not go unnoticed by those in the Municipal Building.

“Mayor Kramer has worked tirelessly to provide the residents and businesses of Franklin with information on a wide variety of issues related to the pandemic,” Township Manager Robert Vornlocker wrote in an email. “He’s also a constant advocate at the County and State level, bringing weekly testing and, soon, mass vaccination locations within the Township.”

“Mayor Kramer has made the safety and well-being of all in the Township his number one priority and is truly deserving of this recognition,” Vornlocker wrote.

Early on in the pandemic, Kramer teamed up with another local doctor/mayor, Brad Cohen of East Brunswick, in asking Gov. Phil Murphy to enact a statewide lockdown.

“While I knew Mayor Phil Kramer before the pandemic, we became great partners as we dealt with the effects of the pandemic on our respective communities,” Cohen wrote in an email. “We spoke often and crafted early responses in unison.”

“I believe that Dr. Kramer is the true example of a public servant and that the residents of Franklin have benefited immensely for having put their faith in his able hands during the worse medical crisis in a century,” he wrote. “While some people are born leaders, others rise to the occasion and meet the needs of a community by their steadfast belief that the ultimate role of any leader is to insure the safety and security of those entrusted to their care. It’s no surprise that Dr. Kramer is such a leader – he made that commitment many years ago when he became a physician.”

Mayor Kramer also worked with Somerset County officials in crafting the township’s response to the pandemic.

Kramer has been “selected to help lead the county’s Winter COVID Advisory Council and his analytics regarding cases and trends are valuable in helping us to combat this disease and slow down the spread,” Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson wrote in an email. “His presence on social media and town halls, proactively sharing information and awareness to the residents of Franklin, definitely played a major role in keeping us informed and safe.”

“Mayor Kramer’s profession, as a physician, provided a wealth of knowledge and understanding about COVID and has been vital to how Franklin is being led through this pandemic,” wrote Robinson, who is also a Franklin resident and former Township Councilwoman.

“Progress,” former President Harry S. Truman once said, “occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

Better words couldn’t have been chosen to describe the way Mayor Phil Kramer has responded to this pandemic, and why he has been chosen as our Man of the Year.

We are most fortunate in Franklin Township for such a leader and we congratulate the Franklin Reporter & Advocate 2020 Man of the Year Mayor Phil Kramer.


Each year, the Franklin Reporter & Advocate picks a person or group of people who have made the largest impact on the residents of Franklin Township during the past year as its Person of the Year.

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