bernards township committee

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Thank You

Dear Volunteers, Supporters & Friends,

I want to thank each and every one of you who helped us run a strong campaign. I would like to congratulate my opponent Janice Fields on her win. While we did not prevail, the election results were very close, with Ms. Fields winning by 193 votes. This was the closest election since Joan Bannan won in 2018 and further proof that every single vote matters. 

Voter turnout this year was strong, but there is still work to do to ensure that we touch every resident and ensure that Democrats unite to vote from the top of the ticket down to the state, county and local candidates. While the national stage is important, how we are governed at every level matters, and every election has consequences. I am proud of the very strong campaign we ran, thankful for the residents I was able to connect with and for the enthusiasm we generated. 

As we move forward, I hope the Township Committee will take on some of the issues we brought to the forefront during our campaign that clearly resonated with our residents on both sides of the aisle, including preserving and protecting our volunteers who provide emergency services and the need for a much-improved infrastructure. I hope the Committee will rethink their approach with regards to the Liberty Corner First Aid Squad. I look forward to the Committee taking action in the Newell Road area to minimize extreme flooding and implement a rescue plan in the likely event of the need for emergency flood response. Finally, I encourage the Committee to address the issue of accessibility to all township events, to encourage more community events such as a Farmers market during the summer and other events that encourage residents to connect within our community and patronize local businesses. 

While I am saddened at the outcome, I am grateful to all of you for making your voices heard. I would particularly like to recognize and thank my campaign manager Sara Nichols, our queen of GOTV Jennifer Kluger, our dedicated Ridge High School democrats, and everyone on the campaign team, including all of you who canvassed, phone banked, and displayed campaign signs. It takes a lot of hours and manpower to run the strong and authentic campaign that we ran this year and no one’s efforts went unnoticed. I would also like to thank the Bernards Township Democratic Committee. At the county level, a huge congratulations to my fellow candidates Sheriff Darrin Russo, Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter and Commissioner Deputy Director Melonie Marano on their re-election. I am grateful for the support of the Somerset County Democratic Committee. I would also like to thank everyone who donated to our campaign as we could not have done any of this without your generosity. Finally, I would like to thank my husband Jared for always supporting my dreams and aspirations.  I do not know what the next election cycle holds but I remain steadfast and proud of our team, the Democrats of Bernards, and after our performance at the polls, more optimistic than ever.

I look forward to continuing to be of service here in Bernards Township in whatever form that may take in the future. 

Thank you,

Jessica Simpson-Cook

Meet Jessica

My husband and I chose to purchase our Bernards Township home in 2019. I am a legal and procurement professional for an International Consumer Goods company and have built my career working at Fortune 500 companies headquartered in New Jersey.

I earned my Business Degree from Temple University in 2004, attended Widener University Law School, and earned my Executive MBA from Rutgers University in 2017. I am currently a member of the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills, committed to develop and empower women civic leaders to address the needs of children by tackling food insecurity and improving access to essential items and resources to improve the health and wellness of school-aged children in need.

I am honored and eager to embark on this journey again as a candidate for the Bernards Township Committee. I am dedicated to working on new efforts that continue to make our town a lively, vibrant community, attractive to residents, visitors, restaurants and other businesses. 

On the issues

On the Issues

As a relative newcomer to Bernards Township, I have the benefit of seeing our town with fresh eyes. I have recently experienced what other towns like ours have done to bring their communities together in ways that encourage shopping, dining and attending family-oriented events just a few minutes away versus 20 minutes away.

My experience as a legal and procurement professional has taught me “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Our local government can, with the right leadership, deliver faster and more effective results for all residents. 

Our Township Committee has a history of responsiveness that often feels more like a “pat on the head” instead of real action, unless it explicitly aligns with the Committee’s agenda. In some instances, the Committee is reactive versus proactive, leading to unnecessary expense and less than ideal outcomes. In addition, single party rule eliminates true diversity of thought to the detriment of the community. 

The Township Committee can – and should – drive the resolution of key concerns. With your vote, I am committed to addressing the following issues:

  • Improve Emergency Medical Response For the past three years, our local volunteers, providing ambulance services for free to the town, have seen a reduction in members. Like many volunteer squads in other communities, the pandemic took its toll. Recently, the Township Committee elected to sue the Liberty Corner First Aid Squad (LFCAS) when they were forced to shut down due to an inability to meet the demands the TC placed on them. The TC wants all of donated funds and appears unwilling to allow the squad time to regroup and rebuild. First, there is no downside to giving the squad time to rebuild. The township already outsources much of their EMS. Allowing both volunteer squads (Basking Ridge EMS) to raise awareness, stay visible in the public's eye and work toward replenishing their teams are a win for the community and for safety. Second, we need to take a hard look at whether the EMS contractor is honoring their commitment regarding response time.
  • Bring back the second public comment at all Township Committee meetings. The opportunity for residents to voice concerns both in person and remotely by email should be restored.  In January 2022, the Township Committee eliminated the second public comment session, saying they felt it would make meetings more “efficient.” In fact, the TC meetings are no more efficient, and reduce the opportunity for residents to be heard. The Bernardsville News agrees: "Let The Public Speak in Bernards Township", "No Good Reason to Limit Public Comments"
  • Manage overgrown trees and limbs in advance of storms to minimize downed wires and power outages. The Committee can do a better job advocating for a faster response both from our public works department and JCP&L.
  • Expedite the repair of potholes and other winter damage on roads and sidewalks.
  • Evaluate building more sidewalks in key locations to make it safer and more accessible for pedestrians, including our younger residents who are not yet able to drive.
  • Launch a farmers market in town during the summer months. I will work with the NJ Secretary of Agriculture, creating a no-cost event for the town and a big win for residents who want more local events. Programs like this increase foot traffic, which helps local businesses and encourages community engagement. 
  • Expand recreational events during the summer months: Food trucks in the park or elsewhere once a month, more frequent outdoor movie nights, a restaurant week, and a “Shop Small Business” week.  
  • Expand sports and recreational programming for children with special needs
  • Implement an accessibility plan for all town events: At the last Charter Day, there was no plan in place to help people with physical challenges easily access the event.

I am committed to working with all residents and the Township Committee to truly listen, take action and resolve the issues that concern you. I commit to holding a regular forum via livestream on social media where residents can ask questions and voice concerns in real time, outside of the in-person meetings. I look forward to meeting you during our campaign, and I am very grateful for your support.


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