Township Councilman Prasad Ends Mayoral Primary Challenge

Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad reads his statement announcing that he is dropping out of the Mayoral primary.

Saying a primary against Mayor Phil Kramer would be “divisive,” embattled Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad announced April 9 that he is ending his challenge .

Prasad, who has been an At-Large Councilman for 13 years, filed for the Democratic primary after he did not screen before the township Democratic committee to run for re-election in November.

Prasad said the decision to end his primary challenge was not made easily.

“After 13 years of serving the residents of our community as an At-Large Councilman, I know first-hand the difference you can make as a public official, be it through the direct work of the mayor and council, participation in the various council committees, the interaction with so many of the wonderfully diverse communities of residents within the township,” he said. “Even just the one-on-one interaction that comes with so many of our residents working together, listening, exchanging ideas, all for the greater purpose of making Franklin Township a better place to call home.”

“It is because of this that I have come to the conclusion that to run a primary campaign would take the risk of opening up divisions within our community that have the potential to undermine the progress which we have all, in our own ways, worked so hard to achieve,” Prasad said. “This does not mean that vigorous debate is not healthy and should not continue to occur within the Franklin Community. However, the potential for divisiveness that so often occurs, particularly within the context of a local primary contest, is something that I do not think would be good for our community at this time.”

“Rather, I would prefer to focus on the specific issues and concerns that can help to strengthen our community,” he said. “This I believe would be a better and more productive use of the time remaining of my term in office.”

Prasad said that whether he is in or out of elected office, “I intend to continue to be an active participant in the life of our community, continue to raise my voice on the issues which I see as significantly affecting the lives of our residents, and continue to put forward my ideas as to how we can move forward with what I know is the common goal of each and every person in this room and throughout Franklin Township, the goal of making our township the strongest, most unified forward-thinking community anywhere in the state of New Jersey.”

There were no comments from the Council after Prasad’s announcement.

Prasad has been a lighting rod for controversy since at least 2015, when he charged that township residents who were opposed to the planned Catalpa Park were “racists” because the park plans included cricket pitches, which are mainly used by Asian-Indians.

Referencing those residents, Prasad also asked then-Chief of Police Lawrence Roberts to notify the FBI of a potential “hate group,” and asked that he request the FBI interview the residents.

More recently, Prasad has come under fire for the way in which he attempted to gain approvals for the now-defunct “Peace and Nonviolence Memorial” statue park on township open space, seeming to influence a Municipal Court judge in a landlord-tenant case and asking Township Manager Robert Vornlocker to “fix” some parking tickets.

Prasad’s actions culminated in him being left off the township Democratic ticket for the 2019 election, but not before the Township Council censured him in December 2018 for “dishonoring” his elected position.

Prasad was the subject of an unsuccessful recall effort that ended earlier this year. He has angrily rebuffed residents’ demands that he resign, saying that he has been told by the “people who elected me” that he should finish out his term.


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