Anew Republican councilman, a tough economic climate to face and a willingness to work together to keep Freehold Borough the wonderful small town officials say it is are themes that dominated the borough’s annual reorganization meeting held Jan. 3 at Borough Hall.
The meeting began with the swearing in of Democrat Sharon Shutzer and Republican John Newman to their three-year terms. They were sworn in to office by New Jersey Lt. Gov.-elect Kimberly M. Guadagno.
Shutzer has served on the six-person council for two decades. Newman is beginning his first term on the governing body. He is the only Republican on the council.
Councilman Jaye Sims was elected to the position of council president. Sims said he was honored to accept the position and would fulfill his responsibilities as president.
In his annual address to residents, Democratic Mayor Michael Wilson congratulated the two council members and welcomed Newman to the governing body.
“I extend my hand across the proverbial aisle to you, John, so that we may work harmoniously together for the common goal, which is to continue to make Freehold Borough one of the finest middle class towns in New Jersey,” the mayor said.
Wilson said the problems and challenges officials face may sometimes seem insurmountable.
“However, our sincere cooperation, hard work and resolve will prevail. My lifelong commitment to Freehold Borough transcends political party lines.” Wilson said as he wished Newman good luck.
Newman thanked the governing body for the warm welcome, especially former Councilman Marc Le Vine, who he said was a great help to him in the transition period.
Le Vine lost his council seat to Newman in the November election.
The new councilman mentioned several issues he would like to see come to fruition, including a more open and accessible government. He said his desire for a more open and accessible government did not reflect any shortcoming on the part of the borough’s current government.
Newman said he would like to see more information provided online, such as agendas for meetings and ordinances, to help people to become more involved and to keep residents informed. He has suggested forming a citizens committee to help advise officials on the town’s budget and he indicated that he would like to pursue additional shared services.
In his comments, Wilson referred to the current economic climate and said he has never witnessed such bleak economic conditions for such a prolonged period of time.
The mayor said that because of the difficult financial times, the borough may be forced to change the manner in which it provides services to residents. He said Freehold Borough is currently undergoing a comprehensive review of many services to determine if there is a more cost-effective way to provide them without sacrificing the quality of life for residents.
Wilson also thanked Le Vine for his “insight, tireless work ethic and commitment to detail.”