Jim Kennedy to replace state Assemblywoman Linda Stender

Political insiders have selected former Rahway Mayor Jim Kennedy to run on the Regular Democratic Organization line to replace state Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22) in the upcoming primary election.

Stender announced she would not seek another term in the Legislature after she was implicated in a scandal involving a nearly half a million dollar loan request submitted to the non-profit group Habitat for Humanity to be used for rebuilding shore home badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Party leaders from seven Union County towns in the 22nd Legislative District voted 4-3 to award the organization line to Kennedy, a lobbyist who served five consecutive terms as Mayor of Rahway from 1991 to 2011, over Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr.

Mahr, in her third mayoral term, expressed disappointment that she was not given backing because she is a woman.

Mahr reportedly claimed that “I believe that 55 percent of the voters have been disenfranchised tonight” was not chosen to replace the scandal-plagued lawmaker but Union County Democratic Committee Chairman and Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-22) said Kennedy is a superior candiates because he is “is committed to working full time with me.”

Mahr started working a year ago as the $81,456-a-year head of the Union County Division of Strategic Planning and Intergovernmental Relations.

The 120 members of the Legislature are each paid $49,000 a year and for many, it is a part time position.

The owner of Kennedy Jewelers in downtown Rahway in the 1970s, Kennedy has served on the Union County Utilities Authority since 1990, including two terms as chairman, and he has been a champion of privatization of government services.

Kennedy formed Skye Consulting in 2006, a consulting firm focused on community development, water utility privatization and cultural arts.

As a lawmaker, he will likely have to give up his status as a registered lobbyist in the State of New Jersey.

Kennedy played a central role in developing the new Rahway Recreation center and a $15 million library and office complex on the 11-acre parcel of land behind City Hall that had lain dormant for nearly three decades.

In early 2001, Kennedy created the Rahway Redevelopment Agency to facilitate and promote new business investment in the city.

Kennedy is also a commissioner on the Rahway Senior Housing Corporation as well as a member of the Board of Directors of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway.

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