Kole's withdrawal came as no surprise, but Skaar's return to local politics may for some: he last ran for public office in 1996.
"I still care after all these years," Skaar said. "A lot of people have put a lot of work into the Democratic Party locally."
Skaar steps into a schism in the party, with two factions battling over the primary bid. The Hillsborough Democratic municipal organization had put Kole on the primary, while a newly-formed Hillsborough Democratic Alliance submitted petitions for John Reddan. Kole announced even before the primary that he had moved out of town and was unable to serve, and the Democratic organization said Lisa Drozd would be added to the ballot in his stead.
But that plan is moot, and Skaar's first acts will be to unify the fractious party.
"That's all over now and everyone getting behind me," he said.
Skaar has practiced law in Hillsborough since 1988, and over the years served as special prosecutor and counsel for the township (2000 to 2004) and general counsel for the Municipal Utilities Authority (2002 to 2008). He is currently the municipal prosecutor in Manville and was previously the borough's public defender.
"We are all very excited to have Mr. Skaar, someone with strong credentials and broad experiences along with a positive vision for the future of Hillsborough, as our candidate for Township Committee," Michael Goldberg, Democratic chairman, said.
His family has ties going back to the mid-1950s, when his father opened an insurance office in Hillsborough.
"We've been here forever and we know a lot of people," he said, adding, "For me, it's an opportunity to be of service."
As far as issues for this fall's campaigns, Skaar noted one has already risen to the forefront of many voters' minds: the open space referendum allowing up to 20 percent of the open space tax collected in future years be used for improvements to open space areas.
Skaar touted his open space bona fides, noted he has donated to the township's open space lands (two Zion Road donations totaling five acres), as well as his 1996 campaign which was focused on the ill-fated Greenbriar senior housing project proposed for Mill Lane.
"We successfully fought that and I think that because we were successful, Hillsborough is one of the 100 best places to live in the country," he said. "Had that been built, I don't think we'd be on any lists."
After watching local politics in the interim, Skaar praised the residents who've run and been elected from both parties, noting, "We're fortunate to have so many good people."
That sentiment reflects the way Skaar says he'll campaign.
"I think I'm going to do this just as I did it in 1996—run an issue-oriented, gentlemanly campaign," he said.
Skaar will face incumbent Republican and current mayor Frank DelCore in the Nov. 5 general election.