HILLSBOROUGH: GOP announces potential names to fill empty committee seat

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Shawn Lipani
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Ron Skobo
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Shawn Lipani
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Ron Skobo

Days after Greg Burchette announced his resignation from the Hillsborough Township Committee, members of the local Republican organization announced they had submitted three individuals who could fill the vacated seat next month.

At the August 14 committee meeting, officials will choose from Shawn Lipani, Ron Skobo and Helen “Chickie” Haines to serve out the rest of Burchette’s unexpired term, ending Dec. 31.

“I’m proud to have forwarded the names of three highly qualified individuals, all of whom can make an immediate impact on the township committee,” Hillsborough Republican Chair Ken Scherer said.

Burchette announced his resignation from the governing body via a prerecorded video that was played during the July 10 committee meeting. In the video, he said he was stepping down that Friday after changes in his personal life meant he “no longer [met] the Hillsborough residency requirement to be a committeeman in this town.”

The news came months after he and fellow Republican Carl Suraci did not file to run in last month’s primaries to retain their seats this November.

According to state law, when an elected official resigns from a local governing body, representatives from the outgoing member’s political party have up to 15 days to submit three potential replacements for consideration.

Both Lipani and Skobo are the current Republican candidates for the two committee seats up for grabs in the general election this November. In the event that one of them is picked to take Burchette’s spot, they will remain on the ballot for a chance at a full term on the committee.

According to Scherer, Lipani is a life-long Hillsborough resident and small business owner who currently serves as the chairman of the township’s Planning Board. He’s also served as a member of the Hillsborough Economic Development Board, the Hillsborough Township Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Capital Planning Board, Hillsborough Rotary and the Youth Services Commission.

Skobo is a retired law enforcement official, who has lived in the township for more than four decades. He’s served on the township’s Recreation Commission, the Cultural and Arts Commission, and the Planning Board. At the county level, he’s served as the Somerset Treatment Services Board President and has volunteered for Somerset County Youth Leadership.

As an equally well-known figure among local Republicans, Haines is a retired teacher and elementary school principal who’s called Hillsborough her home for the last 42 years. She’s previously served as the township’d deputy mayor. She has also served as a member of the Planning Board and the Environmental Commission. Today, she sits on the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Open Space Advisory Committee.

In the event that an individual is selected and they already have a position on one of the township’s boards, they will be required to resign from that post, Scherer said. Any subsequent replacements will be made by the township committee.