Township council appoints new member after resignation

Former board of education member replaces Scott Owens

Special to The Sun: Carolyn Grace is sworn in as a councilwoman by Mayor David R. Mayer during a council meeting Wednesday, Oct. 14. Grace will assume the seat left vacant after the resignation of Scott Owens last month.

Gloucester Township Council met for its regularly scheduled session Oct. 14 and swore in a new member to replace Scott Owens, who moved out of the township last month.

Council President Orlando Mercado announced at the Sept. 28 meeting that Owens had resigned earlier in the month. In a resignation letter submitted to the township and obtained by The Sun, Owens cited both “family and professional circumstances” for a move that caused him to vacate his seat.

The Gloucester Township Democratic County Committee had 15 days from the date of Owens’ resignation to submit three names as possible replacements, according to Solicitor David Carlamere. Council then had an additional 15 days to select one of them.

According to township officials, council held a special meeting on Oct. 10 so its remaining members could interview the three candidates. All those present then voted unanimously in favor of Carolyn Grace taking the empty seat. Councilman Dan Hutchinson was not present at the special meeting.

Grace served with the Gloucester Township Public Schools Board of Education after winning a 2018 election; she has since resigned from that role to serve on council.

Grace is a 2019 Camden County Freedom Medal winner, honored for her work and contributions to improve her community. The award is presented annually to county residents who serve as civic leaders and demonstrate the ideals and actions of Martin Luther King Jr.

Grace was selected in large part for her work as a founding member of the Brittany Woods Community Action Group, formed years ago to  help decrease the number of abandoned homes, unkempt lawns and other issues that could impact the community’s overall property value. The group also has helped create a new sense of pride for its community and neighbors.

At the Oct. 14 council meeting, Mercado recounted his first interaction with Grace and commended her civic leadership and her work in recent years to improve the community.

“I first met Ms. Grace about four years ago, during a lively council meeting that lasted until about one in the morning about the budget,” said Mercado. “Grace was here with her friend, Shirley Johnson, to talk about their community and the things they wanted to do there. And in the midst of everyone talking about taxes and the budget and services, they said we need to do something … to help our community.”

Mercado said council members went to Brittany Woods to help understand the community from Grace’s perspective and what could be done to improve the neighborhood. Since then, Grace has continued to be involved in the Gloucester Township community.

Grace will serve until the 2021 election, when the seat is set to expire. At that point, candidates will have to be elected to another four-year term.

Council’s next scheduled meeting is Monday, Oct. 26.