Kevin Nerwinski is about to take on a job that includes overseeing more than 170 employees, a budget of $44 million and a township comprising 22 square miles with a population of nearly 34,000 people as the new Lawrence Township Municipal Manager after former manager Richard Krawczun’s retirement. Daunting, perhaps, but Nerwinski is no stranger to serving Lawrence.
With previous positions as the township’s prosecutor, attorney and judge, Nerwinski is in tune with Lawrence Township and is eager to serve the residents in a new role.
“I am very proud of our community and am wholly vested in its success moving forward,” Nerwinski said. “Having worked closely with the governing body and the municipal managers—both William Guhl and Richard Krawczun—I was able to gain valuable experience understanding community issues, as well as being involved in the functioning of the municipal government.”
Growing up on Fieldboro Drive where his father still lives, Nerwinski’s first job at age 16 was at Halo Farm at the southern end of Route 206. He attended St. Ann’s School, Notre Dame High School and Rider University.
In addition to his work for the township on legal matters, Nerwinski has been in private practice as an attorney in Lawrenceville for more than 20 years. His specialties include transactional work for land acquisition and sale for both commercial and residential clients.
He has been involved with tax appeals for the Township which he believes “will prove to be valuable to me in my work as a municipal manager.”
Following Krawczun, who served as manager for 12 of the 23 years he has worked for Lawrence Township, could be a challenge. Nerwinski, 51, relishes the opportunity and has no immediate plans to make major changes.
“At the outset, my goals are simple,” he said. “I am committed to continuing the good work of the present governing body and my predecessor. The mayor and council, along with Richard Krawczun, have guided this town through very trying financial circumstances. The township is fiscally sound and this, of course, needs to continue. I am sure that opportunities for improvements to our community will be identified along the way, and the challenge will be to seize upon them in a prudent and responsible way.”
In a January 2017 interview with the Lawrence Gazette after announcing his retirement, Krawczun said he hoped the new manager, unknown at the time, would be able to concentrate on public safety services—fire protection, police services and EMS—and the continued possibilities for the redevelopment of the portion of Route 1 south of I-295. Krawczun hoped the new manager would be able to lead an effort to upgrade and improve the Lawrence Shopping Center.
‘Kevin Nerwinski presented himself very well and answered a lot of our questions in his resume. I believe he’s going to do well.’
As municipal attorney, Nerwinski provided legal advice to the mayor, council and manager on local, state and federal law affecting the responsibilities, actions, and liabilities of the Township and appeared before state and federal courts as well as state agencies on matters of interest to the township.
Mayor David Maffei said the township received 28 applications, from as far away as Arizona. They went through several rounds of cuts before settling on Nerwinski.
“Kevin Nerwinski presented himself very well and answered a lot of our questions in his resume,” Maffei said. “I believe he’s going to do well. He’s well-liked. Not only did council discuss him, but we went out and talked to people about him.”
Council member Michael Powers said during the search process, it became clear that the right candidate was already in Lawrence. Powers, also an attorney, has known Nerwinski for the last 20 years and has worked with him directly since 2004, when Powers was first elected to council and Nerwinski was serving as the township’s attorney.
“During that time period, I was able to see firsthand how Kevin interacted with the public and how he treated other professionals at town hall,” Powers said. “He was a trusted advisor to council and navigated the council through some difficult issues. Although the council was composed of three Democrats and two Republicans at the time, Mr. Nerwinski would often remind me that each council member was his client regardless of political affiliation.”
Powers said he Nerwinski’s analytical approach to problem solving will help him in his new role.
Nerwinski met Judy, his wife of 28 years, when they were students at Rider University. Judy is the Director of Research at Amstat Corporation in Tinton Falls, an aviation research firm where she has worked for 30 years. Their two children, Sara and Jake, both graduated from Notre Dame High School.
Soccer has been a bedrock of Nerwinski family life beginning with Kevin’s father, Frank Nerwinski, Sr., himself a former Mayor of Lawrence Township, who was an All-American soccer player at Rider and the most valuable player (MVP) in 1956. Kevin followed up his father’s success at Rider when he was selected as the MVP for his defensive role in 1986.
The Nerwinski children, Sara and Jake, played in youth leagues, and Nerwinski himself has played for 45 years. Sara currently plays for Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Jake, a 2017 graduate of University of Connecticut, has taken the family’s love of soccer the furthest, though, as a professional soccer player with the Vancouver Whitecaps, one of 22 teams in Major League Soccer. The Nerwinskis have invested thousands of hours over the last 16 years traveling to game sites to watch and cheer their children on as they continue the game that has been so important to their father and grandfather.
Not surprisingly, Nerwinski identifies his favorite sports teams as the Roger Williams University somen’s soccer team and the Vancouver Whitecaps. When pressed for slightly more local sports loyalties, he says, “I am a huge Oakland Raiders fan and a Yankees fan.” Concerning his loyalty to Oakland instead of one of the teams in Philadelphia or New York, he says with a laugh and a smile, “Everyone just needs to accept this and move on.”
Volunteering has been part of Nerwinski’s life and will continue to be important to him. He recently ended his soccer coaching career after 15 years. A 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus Council #7000 associated with St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Lawrenceville, he and his father deliver food to the Mount Carmel Guild in Trenton. Nerwinski also serves as the Judge Advocate of the American Legion Post 458 in Trenton and is a member of the Sons of the American Legion.
Nerwinski graduated Cum Laude from Rider University in 1988 and received his Juris Doctor from the Beasley School of Law at Temple University in 1994, where he was a Barrister Award winner. A lifelong Bob Dylan fan even in grammar school, Nerwinski will often attend Dylan concerts if they are within a hundred miles or so.
“When my grammar school classmates were listening to Kiss, I was the oddball kid that liked some old guy—and this was 40 years ago. Now that he is a Nobel Prize winner in literature, I feel vindicated.”
Nerwinski tries hard to convince himself that yard work and gardening around his beautiful home on a large lot in Lawrenceville is exercise and that it is good for him. However, “after an hour and I am nowhere near done, I feel like it is not such a good idea.”
Looking forward to the challenges and opportunities in his new role, Nerwinski says, “This town is very important to me and I am committed to working hard and doing my best.”