U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone administers the oath of office to Councilwoman Juanita Lewis
RED BANK — Consistency certainly seemed to be the tone of the day as borough officials met on Sunday to conduct the annual reorganization meeting.
On New Year’s Day, Democratic Council members Edward Zipprich and Juanita Lewis took their oaths of office, which were administered by U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ). Both the council members were incumbents who won re-election last year for their three-year terms, allowing the six-member council to remain all Democrats with a Democratic mayor.
“I am proud to be part of this historic, diverse council,” said Lewis upon taking her second term, referencing a council that is comprised of two African Americans, three women and one gay member.
“”We are continuing our commitment to the entire Red Bank community,” offered Zipprich in his comments after being sworn in.
Along with the council remaining constant, the appointment of professionals followed suit, with all of them remaining for 2012. The council approved unanimously the reappointment of its borough attorney, Daniel J. O’Hern Jr.; engineer Christine Ballard with the T&M Associates firm; Philip A. Norcross as bond counsel; and Gene J. Anthony, Andrew Walsh and James L. Plosia Jr. to continue to serve as rent level board, construction board of appeals and labor counsels, respectively; David Kaplan as borough auditor; James Butler as municipal prosecutor; and Kevin P. Wigeton as public defender. Along with the professional appointments, the council approved the reappointment of the entirety of other administrative positions, from its administrator, Stanley Sickels, to Police Chief Stephen G. McCarthy and so on.
The council went on the vote unanimously to rename Councilman Arthur V. Murphy III to be council president, having him preside in the mayor’s absence.
“When you do spend so much time together you do become an extended family,” Mayor Pasquale Menna observed about the governing body and professionals who lend their support.
In his remarks Menna offered his thanks to the public employees noting some elected officials have taken to “pick on public employees” but he offered his support, noting 2011 was something of a rough and tumble year being with heavy snow in late 2009 and continuing with a hurricane and even an earthquake. “I don’t know if we could have went through anything else,” he said.
Overall, though, “I think the year was extremely positive,” Menna observed looking back at 2010. He noted there are development projects in the works that demonstrate interest in the community; and he pointed to rock star Jon Bon Jovi’s opening of Soul Kitchen, a philanthropic effort, that brought international media attention to the borough.
For the coming year, the mayor said there will be efforts to move forward with a progressive initiative to address the chronic parking shortfall; the naming of “a suitable public space” in honor of the late Katharine Elkus White, onetime mayor and U.S. ambassador to Denmark, “A legendary figure,” he said; the naming an “innovative program” in the near future (without offering any details): and plans to continue to lobby state legislators to address what local officials see as the inequity of providing services for an inordinate amount of tax exempt properties owned by not for profits, which they say places an additional burden on taxpayers.
“I will do what I can to keep on moving forward,” Menna told the audience.