Republicans Nominate 3 for Twp. Committee Seat

Laura Ali Nonnenmacher, Karen Swartz and Joseph Contorno were chosen from among six applicants.

The Republican Committee met Monday to choose three registered Republicans as nominees to fill a vacant seat on the Committee.

According to Republican Committee Chairman Thomas Basta, the committee chose Karen Swartz, Laura Ali Nonnenmacher and Joseph Contorno as the nominees out of six individuals who asked to be considered. He declined to name the three who were not chosen.

The seat was vacated by former township Mayor Kevin Tubbs, who was in the last year of his second three-year term when he on Friday, May 4. The resignation was effective Tuesday, May 8.

Tubbs' resignation was expected. The committee member from the township committee, as his family was planning to move out of state. .

Joseph Contorno

Contorno filed run for Chatham Township Committee by the deadline in April, but later dropped out of the race. At the Republican Candidates' Night on May 1, Contorno said "due to some personal reasons, I have decided not to" run in the June primary.

Contorno did not immediately respond to requests for comments Monday night.

Basta said he has known Contorno a long time, and the two sit on the Republican Committee together. He declined to comment on the committee's discussion regarding Contorno's decision to drop out of the race for the full term, but he said, "everybody knows him and feels really comfortable with Joe’s capabilies."

According to Basta, Contorno "owns a company that does corporate goverance work for publicly traded companies."

Laura Ali Nonnenmacher

Nonnenmacher is currently running in the GOP primary for the full term on the Chatham Township Committee. She is a sitting member of the township's Republican Committee, as is Contorno.

"Everybody knows her, and just like Joe, nobody has any doubts about her capabilities," Basta said.

Her nomination, Basta said, should not be seen as a tacit endorsement of her primary run.

"The committee was very clear to make a differentiation between the race between Laura and Kevin [Sullivan, the second GOP primary candidate]," Basta said. "When we sat down to begin the process, we wanted to decide who would best do the township's work for the next six months and separate that from the race between Kevin and Laura."

Basta said Sullivan did not apply for consideration for this interim committee position.

Nonnenmacher said she was "grateful, happy and excited" at her nomination. "I'm curious to see what happens next," she said.

As a member of the Republican Committee, Nonnenmacher had three votes for the other five candidates. She and Contorno were asked to leave the room while the committee discussed their candidacies.

"Everybody that interviewed for it, they were all outstanding candidates. I can't convey that enough. I was pleasantly surprised," she said.

Though she said she would be nervous, Nonnenmacher said she will attend the meeting of the Chatham Township Committee Thursday to hear the outcome of their vote for who will fill the vacant seat. In the event she is chosen and should win the June primary and November general elections, she said, "it gives me an extra six months to get up to speed before the actual term begins."

Karen Swartz

Swartz, a local businesswoman and volunteer, also applied to fill the vacant seat left by Tubbs. She works as a financial representative for Northeast Planning Corporation and is active in the Kiwanis Club of the Chathams and “Women in Warren Business Networking Group,” .

At the news of her nomination, Swartz said, "It would be a privilege to serve my fellow Township residents and help in an orderly transition until a replacement for Kevin Tubbs is elected."

Chatham Patch has covered several of Swartz's volunteer efforts, including to benefit The Eric Johnson House in Morristown.

"A lot of people didn't know Karen, but everyone just thought she was incredibly impressive," Basta said. "Her commitment to the township really comes through within two seconds of meeting her."

Next Step

The Chatham Township Committee will meet in closed session at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to determine which of the three nominees will serve out the remainder of Tubbs' term, which expires Dec. 31.

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