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Updated: Township Councilman Prasad Files Primary Challenge Against Mayor Kramer

Prasad was censured in December 2018 for bringing 'dishonor' to his Council position.

Embattled Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad has filed a primary challenge against Mayor Phil Kramer. Prasad was censured by the Township Council in December 2018 for bringing dishonor to his position. (File Photo).


Update 1: Mayor Kramer and Ron Jordan, head of the township Democratic Party, have responded to Prasad’s decision to run a challenge.

“I look forward to the opportunity to place before the voters my record on issues such as responsible fiscal stewardship, improvements to our community’s quality of life and the implementation of open, transparent and ethical governance in Franklin Township,” Kramer wrote in an email. “As always, I intend to run a spirited campaign and continue to earn the trust of our residents as I have worked to do each and every day since entering public office.”

“As always, the Franklin Democratic Organization conducted a fair and open nominating process, of which Mr. Prasad chose not to participate,” Jordan wrote. “Phil Kramer has served our community admirably as both Mayor for the last four years and Councilman before that, and it is the Organization’s position that he has earned another four years as our Mayor.”

“The Franklin Democrats stand united in our support for Phil and we will be working hard over the next two months to ensure his re-nomination as our standard bearer in this November’s General Election,” he wrote.

Original Story: Embattled Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad has filed a primary challenge against Mayor Phil Kramer.

Prasad, a Cortland Drive resident, was left off the township Democrats’ ballot this year for an At-Large Council seat; he has been a Councilman for the past 12 years.

According to his filing, Prasad is running under the “JFK-MLK Democratic Party.”

No papers reflecting Prasad’s candidacy had been posted by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission as of April 1.

In addition to Kramer, a Canal Road resident, other Somerset County Democratic Organization candidates who filed their petitions to run are:

  • Township Councilwoman Kimberly Francois of Norris Road
  • Township Councilwoman Crystal Pruitt of JFK Boulevard
  • Sivaraman Anbarasan, a commissioner of the township Sewerage Authority, of Esplanade Drive.

All three filed for the available Township Council seats.

On the Republican side, the following have filed:

Mayor:

  • Beverly Briggs-Lawsomn

Township Council:

  • Santhosh (Sam) K. Velu of Girard Avenue
  • Alhaji (Noah) Fofanah of Lake Avenue
  • Christina Ganzer-Zambri of Buffa Drive.

All petitions for party primaries were due April 1.

Independents who wish to file for public office have until June 4 to file with the Somerset County Clerk.

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.

Editor’s Note: We have asked for comment from the township and county Democratic leadership, as well as from Kramer and Prasad. The story will be updated when those comments are received.

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