MARLBORO — After considering three individuals they called “very strong candidates,” the members of the Township Council unanimously voted to appoint Mike Scalea to fill the council seat formerly held by Frank LaRocca.
At the Jan. 30 meeting, Scalea was sworn into office by Mayor Jonathan Hornik. Scalea will serve the remainder of LaRocca’s term, which expires on Dec. 31.
LaRocca stepped down from the governing body in January following his acceptance of a municipal judge’s position in Keyport.
Because the vacant council seat had been held by a Democrat, the Marlboro Democratic Committee was tasked with submitting the names of three residents to the council as possible replacements for LaRocca.
The Democrats submitted Scalea, Peter Bufano and Vincent Rantinella. All three candidates switched their party affiliation from Republican to Democrat in order to qualify for the appointment.
“I had the opportunity to speak with all three candidates,” Councilman Jeff Cantor said. “I want to thank the Democratic Committee for bringing forth three very solid candidates. All three wanted to do well for the township.”
“I agree,” Council President Scott Metzger said. “They were three very, very strong candidates who all had the best interests of Marlboro.”
Scalea, who works as an information technology consultant, has lived in the township for 17 years. He has been an active volunteer in sports programs, including serving as president of Marlboro Pop Warner, the township’s youth football organization, which later became Marlboro American Youth Football (AYF).
Scalea currently sits on the Recreation and Swim Advisory Board, a position that he will have to step down from now that he is a councilman.
“I have volunteered in that [recreation] area, so I wanted to give back to the community at the next level,” Scalea said. “I know Frank very well. I knew he participated a lot and volunteered his time. He did some great things, and I would like to follow in his footsteps and give back.”
For the year ahead, Scalea said his biggest concerns are issues related to weather, as well as reducing taxes.
“Whatever they put me in charge of or ask me to oversee, I look forward to taking advantage of that and doing the best I can in that area,” he said.
Scalea said he believes his biggest asset to the council is his knowledge of the Parks and Recreation Department.
“I have spent so much time in youth sports and supporting that area, and I know the folks there,” he said. “They are doing a great job right now. I would like to continue to maybe be that liaison and kind of help [to see] how we can better the sports programs.”
As to working with Cantor, Metzger, Randi Marder and Carol Mazzola on the council, Scalea said, “I know them all well, some better than others. But I respect each one of them. They have a great family background, family values. They are great people, they are passionate — and that’s how I am. To be able to work with them at this level to support the town, I think, is a great opportunity.”