SEA BRIGHT — Last Saturday’s borough reorganization meeting was a time for a formal thank you to the outgoing mayor and the official induction to the new holder of that office, as two Borough Council members took their places on the governing body for the next three years.
At the borough’s 116th reorganization meeting conducted at the community center, Councilwoman Dina Long was sworn in as for a four-year term as mayor, as were Council members incumbent C. Read Murphy and James A. LoBiondo III.
But the afternoon’s proceedings were also an opportunity for Long and others to offer their acknowledgment to outgoing Mayor Maria Fernandes. Long told of Fernandes’ dedication and her role as the new mayor’s political mentor.
Fernandes, a Democrat, served one four-year term as mayor and decided to not seek re-election because of health concerns. She previiously served as a councilwoman and as a long standing member of the borough planning board, adding up to a total of 16 years of public service.
Fernandes said she was first asked to participate by then Mayor Charles Rooney, who appointed her to the planning board. “I never imagined I would be involved with the borough for that amount of time,” she said as she sat in her wheelchair, facing the audience.
“I would continue to help out any way I can,” she offered.
With Fernandes’ decision, Democrat Long stepped up to run winning November’s election, defeating the Republican and Independent opponents. Long has served on the council since 2002.
She told the audience of residents, appointees and others that she sees the borough as an “eclectic, diverse group in a three-mile stretch of beach front.”
That group she said may be diverse but is one that shares at least one quality: “A love of Sea Bright.”
“Our town is changing; our state is changing,” Long said, and the community would have to work smarter to face the current crop of challenges. But, she added, “When all work together we succeed.”
Murphy, a Republican, who was named chairman of the council’s finance committee, told of the economic difficulties the borough faced under a previous chief financial officer about two decades ago. “We were in very bad financial shape back then,” he remembered. But since then, under the current CFO, Michael Bascomb, “Financially, I think we’re in good shape,” Murphy said.
And given the redevelopment plan being proposed for the borough’s business district and beach area, Murphy said he expected it to benefit the community in the long run.
“We haven’t focused on this project for an ego factor,” he said. “It’s for bringing dollars in.” And could be responsible for generating as much as $1 million, which would offset local taxes, he explained.
The council also named Republican Councilman Brian Kelly as this year’s council president, reappointing Joseph W. Oxley as borough attorney, and Jaclyn J. Flor of T&M Associates as the borough engineer.