The Bernards Township Democratic Committee (BTDC) announces the election of its new executive committee composed of Chair Elizabeth Graner, Vice Chair Catherine Santaiti, Treasurer Fred Douglis, Secretary Jane Conklin, Media Chair Sara Nichols, and Voter Engagement Chair Jennifer Kluger.
Graner has lived in Bernards Township since 2016 and has been a member of the BTDC since early 2018. She is a high school English teacher and has a decades-long commitment to social justice, environmental and education equality causes. Graner succeeds Nancy D’Andrea, who has served as chair since 2017, and is enthusiastic about the impact the BTDC has in our community. “I am honored and humbled to have been chosen as Chair of the BTDC and will continue the momentum started by the outgoing board as the BTDC addresses citizens’ concerns and viewpoints with transparency, respectfulness and inclusion. I hope to work collaboratively with our colleagues throughout town — and across the aisle — to make Bernards Township better for everyone, including people in the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities,” Graner said. “This is an especially exciting time for the BTDC as the Democratic party’s message is resonating with more and more people throughout Bernards Township and across America.”
Santaiti, formerly BTDC secretary, has lived in Bernards Township for eight years and succeeds Gregory Begg. “The BTDC made significant progress over the past few years with increasing Democratic voter registration and turnout in Bernards Township. The BTDC vetted, endorsed and supported Joan Harris, the first Democrat elected to the Bernards Township Committee in more than 20 years,” Santaiti noted. “Voters realize they have a choice in elections and are more willing to consider the experience, credentials and integrity of the candidate rather than voting strictly by party lines.”
Douglis succeeds Ana Duarte-McCarthy. Douglis is a chief research scientist and has lived in Bernards since 1998. He was on the BTDC in the early 2000s and again since 2017.
Conklin serves as secretary, the position previously held by Santaiti, and works for the Bernards Township Public Schools. Serving on the BTDC for four years, Conklin also worked with local and Congressional campaigns. Currently, Conklin serves on the Environmental Commission.
Nichols joined the BTDC in 2019 and has volunteered with local campaigns and as the BTDC Media Chair. Living in Bernards Township for eight years, Nichols is a filmmaker, director and producer who has created television shows, music videos and celebrity image campaigns.
Kluger devoted herself to voter engagement efforts all over Somerset County including a special effort to encourage young people to become fully engaged and knowledgeable voters through numerous voter registration drives, classroom visits at Raritan Valley Community College and a vote-by-mail initiative that contributed to Democratic wins in the 2018 Congressional, county and local races. Kluger also volunteered in local schools as class parent, secretary of the Ridge High School PTO and vice president and president of the Ridge High School Band Association.
D’Andrea has been named BTDC Chair Emeritus and, along with Santaiti and many other dedicated volunteers, reformed the BTDC in 2017 and will remain active with the BTDC and campaign efforts. She serves as Recording Secretary for the Somerset County Democratic Committee.
“As we begin the next chapter of the BTDC, we thank our previous leadership team and are awed by their accomplishments. We also want to thank Bernards Township residents for the trust they place in us and look forward to increased involvement from the community as we navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead,” the BTDC Executive Committee added.