Byram council appoint Gray to vacant seat

Lawyer to replace Lauces on board

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By Thomas Bias

The Byram Township Council has a new member. David E. Gray, a 35-year-old attorney. He was sworn in on March 5 to fill the spot of Carlos Luaces, who resigned abruptly in February.

Gray will have to run for election in November to complete the unexpired term vacated by Lauces. He said he will absolutely run in 2014, and again in 2015.

Gray is a 2003 graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law. In his first job out of law school he served as clerk for N. Peter Conforti, a judge of the Sussex County Superior Court. He is now in private practice with his law partner Paul Foreman. He is also a partner in a real estate investment firm, Action Investments, LLC, which invests principally in rental properties.

He is motivated to become involved in municipal government by his desire to improve the business climate in Byram Township, he said.

“If you are going to have a healthy town, you have to have healthy businesses,” Gray said. “It upsets me to drive down Route 206—which is our ‘Main Street’—and see business locations that are empty.”

The formation this year of the Economic Development Advisory Committee, EDAC, is something Gray said is a big step forward.

“It is not easy to be successful as a small business owner,” he said. “Businesses need a voice.”

He considers the EDAC to be one place where the business owner’s voice can be heard and said that a healthy local economy is essential to holding down taxes.

In the short term Gray says that it is essential for the township to adopt a fiscally conservative budget. The budget introduced by Township Manager Joseph Sabatini on February 18 is a fiscally conservative budget, Gray said.

“Everything that can be cut has been cut. There is no fluff in this budget. Many municipal employees are working part-time,” he said.

Public safety is another one of Gray’s concerns, saying it is a social necessity that only government can address.

One serious public safety problem is heroin addiction, Gray said.

It has become a very serious problem and addressing the drug problem in Sussex County is necessary to protect Byram’s youth, he said.

The council was not required to fill the seat before the November election. However, the council has the right to appoint someone within thirty days of the position becoming vacant.

Councilman Scott Olson said that he was initially not inclined to appoint someone to fill the seat, but that his thinking had changed. Bond ordinances require a two-thirds majority and Olson expressed concern about potential two-to-two tie votes.

Another problem is the possibility that the council might not have a quorum during vacation season. Consequently he favored appointing Gray.

Deputy Mayor Marie Raffay said that she felt overwhelmed by the considerations involved with filling the council seat. She then mentioned that Gray had reached out to her to express his interest in replacing Luaces on the council. She said he will be a good addition to the council.

Mayor James Oscovitch said that he liked Gray and thought he would be a good councilman.

Gray has been serving as the chairman of the Byram Environmental Commission, to which Olson is the township’s liaison.

“I’ve known David four or five years,” Olson said. “He’s someone who thinks through problems to come up with good solutions. I was excited when I spoke with him about his interest in becoming a member of the council.”

David Gray and his wife Ivana have two children, a four-year-old son Luka and two-year-old daughter Zara.

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