MIDDLESEX COUNTY - North Brunswick Councilwoman Shanti Narra was selected by the Middlesex County Democratic Organization County Committee to replace H. James Polos on the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Polos submitted his resignation on Oct. 6 to take over as executive director of the Middlesex County Improvement Authority.
Narra said she was submitting her resignation as councilwoman on the North Brunswick Township Council on Wednesday, which will be effective Thursday. She expects to be sworn in as a freeholder on Thursday night.
Her selection on Tuesday leaves a vacancy on the council, for which she was first elected in 2009.
North Brunswick Democratic Organization Chair Richard Zangara said he will meet with his committee and provide three names to the mayor and council for consideration for the unexpired term. The mayor and council will then choose one of those recommendations, Zangara said.
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Narra, 49, who has lived most of her life in North Brunswick, is a supervising attorney at The Legal Aid Society in New York, where she oversees a staff of 25 attorneys and other support staff. She has been with Legal Aid for about 16 years and had a private practice in the county for about five years.
She is a former member of the North Brunswick Planning Board and served as parliamentarian to the Middlesex County Organization since 2015.
Born in Hyderabad, India, Narra immigrated to the United States at age 3 and is the first South Asian to serve on the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. She is a graduate of North Brunswick High School, Georgetown University-School of Foreign Service and the Georgetown University Law School.
"I'm thrilled to be able to serve the residents of Middlesex County because I did grow up here," she said. "I had the best childhood anyone could possibly have in North Brunswick. I am excited to live in North Brunswick. I'm excited to live in Middlesex County and New Jersey. I think the county is incredible. We have 25 towns that are amazingly diverse and each has its own characteristics. That's what I love about it. I'm anxious to get to work."
Narra initially will spend time getting acclimated to her new position.
"I learned when I joined council that there are so many little pieces to the puzzle," she said. "I can only imagine what it entails on the county level. I am going to sit down with the county director, and he has plans for me to meet with the various directors and department heads.
"Honestly, I think my plan is really going to be based on where I am most needed. It's a very short election cycle, so I've made a point to commit to all the chairs of the different towns. I am committed over the next several months to visiting each of the towns and meeting the committee people and as many residents as I can and trying to figure out what their needs and wants are and how that will fit in with whatever my role on the Freeholder Board is going to be."
She also plans on running in November 2017 for the remainder of Polos’ term.
"I can't imagine starting this position and not trying to continue," she said. "I've known Jim Polos for a number of years, so this is going to be exciting to step into his shoes. If I'm lucky, I will get his portfolio because it kind of suits my skill set. His portfolio is doing public safety and the OEM. I spent my whole career in criminal justice. I am a CERT team member and I have a shelter certification."
Narra was among four candidates screened before the county committee.
“The MCDO ran a transparent and democratic process, which allowed our county committee members to select Councilwoman Narra from a field of extremely qualified candidates,” Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe said. “She will make an outstanding member of the Board of Freeholders, and Middlesex County residents are fortunate to have someone with her perspective and commitment to public service on the Board.”
Staff Writer Susan Loyer: 732-565-7243; firstname.lastname@example.org