James Alan “Jim” Harkness, Esq., died on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 at home, surrounded by his loving family. He was 64 years old.

He was a member of the Delaware Township Board of Education from 2004 to 2010, and was an attorney with the New Jersey School Boards Association’s legal department in the mid-1980s.  He was the husband of Jean Harkness, NJSBA policy consultant.

Mr. Harkness was a popular and widely-respected leader in New Jersey politics for more than four decades.

Serving as chief counsel to Gov. Donald DiFrancesco from 2001 to 2002, he was deputy executive director and chief counsel of the Senate Majority Office when DiFrancesco was Senate president. In his final month in office, Gov. DiFrancesco appointed Mr. Harkness to the New Jersey Local Finance Board.

Mr. Harkness was later the executive director of the Senate Minority Office under Tom Kean, Jr. He  served on the Hunterdon County Board of Taxation and on Gov.-elect Chris Christie’s Labor and Workforce Development transition team. In between serving the State of New Jersey, Mr. Harkness was a partner at the Riker Danzig law firm. He most recently was employed by Jersey Central Power & Light as its director of state affairs.

A 1976 graduate of Rutgers University, majoring in political science, Mr. Harkness went on to receive his law degree from the University of Detroit in 1979.

Surviving are his wife, Jean Stillwell Harkness; his children, Dominic Paul Harkness, Rebecca Jean Harkness, and Joseph James Harkness; his sisters and brothers-in-law, Anne Marie and Michael Bennett and Christine and Mark Russell; his sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Karen Stillwell Curran, Paul Stillwell and his wife, Fatima Hohl, and Virginia and her husband, Gene Schwarzrock; many nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family; and many dear friends.

A gathering for family and friends will take place on Thursday, Nov. 29 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Chapel of Wright & Ford Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 38 State Highway 31, Flemington, N.J.

Life Celebration services officiated by Rev. Lee Ann Zandstra will take place on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 at 11 a.m. in the Riverside Ballroom at the Inn at Lambertville Station https://www.lambertvillestation.com/, 11 Bridge Street, Lambertville, N.J. 08530.

A permanent memorial site where messages of condolence may be added has been established at www.wrightfamily.com. Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, may be made to Cooper University Health Care, c/o The Cooper Foundation, Sheridan Pavilion, 3 Cooper Plaza, Suite 500, Camden, N.J. 08103 or to the Hunterdon Medical Center Foundation or to the Hunterdon Healthcare Foundation, 9100 Wescott Drive, Suite 202, Flemington, N.J. 08822.