CRANFORD, NJ — The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which granted women the right to vote, was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. A century later, Cranford Chamber of Commerce Director Dottie Baniewicz announced her retirement after 20 years of service. The symbolic link between the two events was not lost on the Cranford Township Committee as it gathered for its monthly caucus meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, which focused its agenda on both.
The committee first issued a proclamation recognizing the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
Deputy Mayor Kathleen Miller Prunty thanked the committee for recognizing the centennial of female suffrage, noting that both of her grandmothers, “who were very independent and strong women,” had to wait until their 30s before they had the right to vote.
“Everyday in Cranford and in every town throughout the country, there are a lot of women quietly doing things to make people’s lives better, who set an example,” said Prunty at the meeting.
Prunty celebrated Baniewicz as an example of one of those women.
“The struggle continues, but there are dynamic, bright women,” she said. “We continue to set an example in our communities, like Dottie. We can set examples in schools, in business, in politics and we have to continue doing that. We have to continue to set an example for all the young girls and the young boys that we are all better off when there is equal opportunity.”
Commissioner Jean-Albert Maisonneuve also honored Baniewicz’s retirement and the impact she has had on Cranford’s community.
“A lot of great businesses are coming into town,” Maisonneuve said during his speech. “Seventeen years ago, compared to today, the town is like night and day.
That kind of leads into all of Dottie’s efforts as she’s part of that development, along with Deputy Mayor, who has brought a vibrancy to this community and it’s infectious. So, thank you, Dottie.”
Township Administrator Jamie Cryan said Baniewicz would be greatly missed.
“I wanted to also thank Dottie for her service to the community,” Cryan said. “When I first started over a year ago, she was one of the first to welcome me and she made my life, everyday after that, much easier. She would always greet me with a smile and also, was willing to help out anyway she could so, she’ll greatly be missed.”
Commissioner Thomas H. Hannen, Jr. also addressed Baniewicz’s retirement.
“I’d just like to echo my colleagues’ congratulations of Dottie,” Hannen said. “Dottie, most of the time, they don’t speak that highly of you until after you’re deceased. So, it was welcomed that you got the opportunity this evening to hear everyone speak so well of the work that you’ve done for the township of Cranford and its citizens.”
Commissioner Mary O’Connor congratulated and thanked Baniewicz, not just for her service to the Cranford Chamber of Commerce but for the township in general.
“I’ve seen Dottie standing gravely in the pouring rain, in all kinds of weather, just out there doing what she does for Cranford for so many years,” said O’Conner. “She just was such a positive person to have in our town, and she would always put Cranford first and is one of our biggest cheerleaders. I wish her much success.”
Like Prunty, O’Connor connected Baniewicz’s retirement, and her years of civil service, to the centennial of the 19th Amendment.
“Having a right to vote is a sacred privilege, and everyone should take it seriously and vote,” she said. “I’m sure 100 years ago, no one was thinking that women would be sitting on the township committee. I’ve been honored to serve with some remarkable women and maybe one day, they’ll be five of us sitting up here.”