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► Shelly L. Bell (Democrat)

Shelly Bell is running for a three-year term on the Montgomery Township Committee. She is director of Institutional Outreach at Pillar College, where she recently completed a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling.

Shelly Bell

Why run as a Democrat?

Governance is about building consensus and working with many different people to implement goals and initiatives based on shared values. To impact society, we must organize and work together with allies. This is the purpose of political parties like the Democratic Party.

I am a life-long Democrat, and I have always been involved in Democratic initiatives. In my childhood, I was part of an initiative to integrate schools and provide equal opportunity for all children regardless of race. I respect elected officials from the Democratic Party for championing these critical issues. I’m also passionate about women’s empowerment, and this is central to the Democratic Party platform. Lastly, I agree with the social values of the party, such as equality and inclusivity.

What are the three top issues in Montgomery Township?

1. Strengthen connections among community members.

As part of the One Montgomery Committee, I worked with Mayor Sadaf Jaffer to organize a community breakfast last year after an attack against the Jewish community in Jersey City.

Speakers included Deputy Mayor Marvin Schuldiner and former Police Director Tom Wain.

The municipal court was packed, and many people expressed their appreciation for having a space to mourn and talk about their hopes for the future.

This year, I helped coordinate a Juneteenth event via ZOOM, where I invited my mentor, Assemblyman Craig Stanley, to speak. While I worked with Assemblyman Stanley, he introduced legislation mandating African American history be taught to all NJ students. I’m dedicated to continuing that work.

This well attended event was the first Juneteenth celebrated by Montgomery Township.

I intend to start a number of initiatives that will continue to bring diverse members of our community together. One of these would be a “Coffee with a Cop” program that would enhance connections between the police department and our broader community.

2. Health and wellbeing of community members.

I have a master’s degree in counseling. My background makes me attuned to the community’s mental health needs, especially during this pandemic situation. I will work to ensure community members have access to the services they need.

Working with the health department, the board of health, and our local school district, I would initiate a program focused on the mental health of the community during these trying times. This is in addition to the evidence-based strategies the township has been implementing to address COVID-19.


3. Economic Stability.

I’m dedicated to the economic stability of our residents and small businesses. We need to help small businesses navigate a post-COVID environment. I will partner with economic development officials, community groups, the Somerset Business Partnership, and county commissioners to develop a strategy to mobilize resources in support of our businesses. One proposal is to develop an online hub for sharing entrepreneurship and small businesses resources throughout the community.

Why are you running for township committee?

I’m interested in strengthening connections, supporting the health and wellbeing of community members, and preserving inclusion and economic stability. I am confident my experience working with the governing body along with my passion to address and resolve problems will benefit the Montgomery community.


What do you love most about Montgomery?

I love the people of Montgomery. There is a spirit of service in this community I value greatly. We also have people from all over the world here. That appeals to me as someone who has participated in multiple service projects worldwide, focusing on empowering women and refugee communities.


I want to preserve the diverse history of Montgomery by working with students including the team from Princeton University but also our local high school students who are interested in making sure we document the stories of local residents.


I am proud that we have an African American heritage museum in Montgomery, and I would like to work closely with them to develop programs.


I also love the green environment and am committed to continuing the efforts to preserve open space and support initiatives championed by our Environmental Commission such as green infrastructure planning.


Why vote for you?

Voting is more than electing a candidate. Voting is choosing the right policies and people who have your best interests in mind. When you vote, you are taking an active role in deciding issues regarding health care, equal opportunity, infrastructure, education, neighborhood safety, etc.


I have extensive experience in politics and government specializing in constituent relations, legislative affairs, and leadership development. I have more than ten years of experience working with federal, state, and local government affairs. My service to New Jersey includes working with Assemblyman Stanley, former chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Schools for the NJ State Legislature. In my work for the 28th Legislative District, I enhanced dialogue among NJ state legislators on “big picture” issues regarding appropriations, tuition, and the impact of legislative decisions on affordability and access.


I was born and raised in a family who believes in the practice of serving others, I have worked as outreach coordinator for the Citizens Campaign, where I educated and trained Newark residents by providing tools, resources, and confidence needed to navigate government. I currently serve as Vice-Chair for Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women and is a member of the Montgomery Township Planning Board and One Montgomery Committee. I am also a trustee for the Fellowship Deaconry, active member of Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) – New Jersey Chapter, an international organization that helps women further their education by providing scholarships, grants, awards, and loans.

I would ask all voters to vote in this election and to vote for me. This election is very important because it is the moment to make your voice heard. That will not happen unless you vote. My track record in the fields of government and community service illustrate that I am experienced and have the ability to handle the responsibility of serving in public office. ■

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