Pennington swears in new mayor

Jim Davy

At its June 7 meeting, Pennington Borough swore in new mayor Jim Davy.

Former mayor Joe Lawver, who also was a long-time Council member, had taken the position of mayor while he and his family were building a house in Princeton, with the understanding that when it was completed, Lawver would leave the position.

Successor and now mayor, Jim Davy, has been a Pennington resident for 20 years and was a Council member from 2013 to 2016. In a recent interview with MercerMe, Davy said that when Lawver realized the time had come for him to go, he asked Davy to throw his hat in the ring. “The stars aligned for me and my work schedule, so I agreed,” he said.

“The way the statute works,” he explained, “is that when a [Democratic] council member or mayor position becomes vacant the Democratic Committee presents three names to Council and then Council chooses from those three.” This appointment lasts for the rest of this year and Davy will run for re-election in November to carry out the rest of Lawver’s term.

Davy’s experience with municipalities is not just limited to four years on Council. In fact, his whole career has been spent in municipal management.

In 1982, Davy became the second professional administrator for Hopewell Township, working there until 1989. During that period, he became familiar with many of the issues facing the Hopewell Valley as well as many of the people, like Councilmember Charles “Chico” Marciante who, like Davy, has committed his life to public service. Marciante was chief of the Pennington Fire Department at the same time Davy was Hopewell Township administrator.

Upon leaving Hopewell Township, Davy worked as administrator for several towns, finishing up as administrator of Woodbridge Township when Jim McGreevy was mayor there. When McGreevy was elected governor, Davy became part of the governor’s administration finishing his 30-year public sector career as NJ Commissioner of Human Services.

Since that time, Davy has become an educator, teaching graduate-level public administration classes at Rutgers-Newark’s School of Public Affairs and Administration and running the Center for Applied Appreciative Inquiry, which consults with municipalities, community organizations, and non-profits on strategic planning and team building.

On how his breadth of knowledge and experience with municipal management will impact his new position as Pennington’s mayor, Davy said humbly, “I do bring a different sensibility to municipal operations.”

Davy said he sees his overarching goal as mayor to continue and advance the family-family environment that Pennington enjoys. “Pennington is a great town,” he stated. “It has a great family atmosphere. We raised our kids here and we love it.”

Affordability is one of the keys to keeping Pennington family-friendly, he said. “We need to make sure that we are not only cost-efficient but cost-effective so people can see they are getting what they pay for.”

Specifically, Davy said that making sure the parks are in great shape with safe equipment for the kids is a goal, as is keeping the streets well-maintained. “The Borough has done a great job with that and I want to make sure it continues,” he said.  The beauty of Pennington is reflected in its trees and Davy added that, in addition to making sure that “if a tree goes down due to disease, another goes up to replace it,” he wants to make sure that the arboretum project behind Toll Gate School is completed.

Through his career, he says, he has established a reputation as being collaborative and making sure that people feel involved in decision making. “My goal, especially with the budget,” he said, is to never have any Council member feel they are missing any information.”

He said he feels the same way about residents: “People are somewhat engaged in Borough affairs, but I would like to see more community input.” If that means more community forums or finding other ways to engage residents, he says, he will be happy to undertake that.

“People support what they help to create,” he said.

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