Young Republican Elected Officials Panel

Join the next generation of GOP Leaders in New Jersey!

As more and more young voters become engaged in the electoral process, the GOP must adapt and grow in order to stay competitive. This panel of young leaders and elected officials will offer a fresh perspective on issues, campaign tactics and relating to millennial voters. 

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Alyssa Dawson, former Westwood Borough Councilwoman

Alyssa Dawson, a 25-year old Westwood resident, currently serves as Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Schepisi (R-39). This past May, Alyssa was appointed to the Westwood Borough Council to finish an unexpired term and was on the ticket in November with incumbent Ray Arroyo. While Alyssa did not prevail, she worked tirelessly on behalf of Councilman Arroyo, leading him to a 2-vote victory in a two month long election contest in Bergen County Superior Court. Alyssa’s career began in Trenton in 2015 where she worked in the Governor’s Office and then for Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.

James R. Kern III, Warren County Freeholder

James R. Kern III is one of three at-large Freeholders for Warren County. Before being elected to county office, Kern was elected mayor of Pohatcong Township in May of  2011 and sworn in at 22 years of age, making him on the second youngest mayor in New Jersey history. Prior to serving as mayor, he was elected to the Township Council at 21, while finishing his senior year at Rutgers.

As mayor, Kern had promoted a transparent and fiscally responsible municipal government. He helped craft statutes for voter approved bonding and pay-as-you-go spending. Through his leadership, Pohatcong will pay off 80% of its principal debt by 2023 and led to a credit rating increase from AA to A +. 

Last November, James was elected to the office of Freeholder, defeating his Democratic opponent with a 60% to 39% margin. Since taking his oath, he has worked with the Board to reduce spending and recently created a Transparency and Technology Task Force.

James received his Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Warren County Community College and his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Rutgers University. He works for CHUBB Ltd as portfolio underwriter. He also volunteers his time with the Pohatcong Recreation association and is an avid fan of the New Jersey Devils.

Jesse O’Leary Kurtz, Atlantic City Councilman

Councilman Jesse O. Kurtz was born and raised and along with his wife Cara are now raising their seven children in the world’s famous playground, Atlantic City. Jesse was elected in 2015 to Atlantic City City Council representing the sixth Ward, where despite being outnumbered 3 to 1, Jesse was elected with over 70% of the vote. He is the only elected Republican on Atlantic City’s governing body. Jesse has been a strong advocate for affordability through reducing the size, scope, and cost of government, opportunity through new economic development, transparency through increased use of technology, and school choice – most notably through the citywide #choiceAC voucher scholarship referendum. Jesse is standing for reelection this year and hopes to earn again the honor of representing the good people of the sixth ward, which includes the state’s most diverse census track.

Ryan Peters, Assemblyman, 8th Legislative District

Assemblyman Ryan Peters was elected to the New Jersey Assembly in 2017. During his initial year in office, Peters has fought for property tax relief for New Jersey residents, income tax exemptions for veterans and their spouses and transparency and safety in government offices.

Peters is actively involved in the community as a leader of nonprofit organizations. He serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Liberty USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey and as a member of the Advisory Board for Habitat for Humanity of Burlington County.

The Assemblyman is a South Jersey native, and attended Holy Cross High School in Delran. He then went on to attend the United States Naval Academy in Maryland, where he was the captain of the Division I soccer team. 

Peters has an extensive military background. He is currently a Commander in the Naval Reserve, assigned to SEAL Team EIGHTEEN. Upon finishing at the Naval Academy in 2004, he completed Navy SEAL training and served three combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2012, Peters graduated from Rutgers School of Law, where he served as the President of the Student Bar Association, the Editor-in-Chief of the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, and as a Henry J. Raimondo Legislative Fellow with the Eagleton Institute of Politics. Following his graduation, he was recalled to active duty to serve his fourth tour of duty.

Upon his return, the assemblyman desired to continue his career in public service. In November of 2015, Peters was elected to the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders. During his time on the board, he helped lower the county budget and taxes.

He and his wife, Stacy, live in Hainesport with their three children, Kaylee Elizabeth, Kevin James and Benjamin Danger.

 

Zach Rich, West Amwell Mayor

Zach Rich, first elected at the age of 29, is currently serving his third term on the West Amwell Township Committee and his fourth one-year term as Mayor.  This year, Zach will be running for an open seat on the Hunterdon County Freeholder Board. 

Zach has a keen sense of the importance of consistent and meaningful community engagement and takes to heart the principles of good governance.  While serving his local community, Zach has led efforts to share services with other communities in the area, making government more efficient and cost effective for the tax payers.  In his tenure, West Amwell has struck deals on shared services ranging from combining local tax collection to merging local school districts.  Additionally, Zach has led the fight to reduce his Township’s debt service obligations by over $2 million while losing a half a million dollars in state aid.  Aside from his work on the Township Committee, Zach has served his community on the local Planning Board, Parks and Recreation Committee, and Finance Committee.

Professionally, Zach is considered a leader in the New Jersey Concrete Industry.  Zach has been with the Silvi Group Companies since 2006 and currently oversees Concrete Sales and Promotion across the State of New Jersey.  The National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA) recently awarded him National Promoter of the Year.  Additionally, Zach serves as Director and Past President on the board of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) an organization with over 500 members that promotes concrete use, and fosters education and certification in concrete technology.  In Zach’s tenure as President, NJ ACI awarded over $150,000 in scholarships, research fellowships, and internship sponsorships to aspiring college students.  Zach has also served as an Adjunct Professor and Guest Lecturer at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Zach was raised in Hunterdon County where he attended local public schools and went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Clemson University in South Carolina.  He and his wife Emily live in West Amwell where they raise their three daughters.

Moderator: Sarah Neibart, Mendham Township Deputy Mayor

Sarah Neibart is the Founder and President of Citizens for Accountable Taxation, Inc. She is also a Republican political and public affairs professional. She most recently worked as Deputy Campaign Manager for Bob Hugin’s Campaign for the United State Senate. Before that, Ms. Neibart served as the Statewide Political Director for Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadgano’s Campaign for Governor. In 2016, Sarah was the Campaign Manager for Scott Garrett for Congress and the National Ballot Access Director for the Chris Christie for President Campaign.

In March 2018, Ms. Neibart entered public service when she was appointed to her municipality’s Township Committee. In November 2018, Sarah was re-elected to the Township Committee and voted Deputy Mayor in January 2019.

Sarah graduated from the University of Wisconsin Honors Program with a B.S. in Political Science and a Certificate in Middle Eastern Studies. Sarah speaks English, Arabic and Hebrew and has spent significant time living and traveling around the Middle East. She currently resides in Mendham Township with her husband Josh Barer and their six pet pigs.