The, hopefully, final chapter in what has now become a national story is being made in the form of a press release. A tree, a proposal, an objection, a name change, a resignation, a rescinding, have all led up to the formation of a diversity committee. The panel will, hopefully, be putting into action the celebration of diversity that has been praised by Mayor Hokanson and will give a voice to the diverse cultures in the Roselle Park community.
The following statement was released by both Mayor Carl Hokanson and Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey:
Councilwoman Charlene Komar Storey will rescind her resignation from the council under an agreement with Mayor Carl Hokanson, the two officials announced.
Hokanson will create a new committee on diversity in the borough and Storey will chair it, the two said.
Storey submitted her resignation, effective Jan. 7, on Friday a day after Hokanson proposed, and a majority of the council approved, a resolution to change the name of the borough’s public tree-lighting ceremony next week to include the word “Christmas.” The event had been called a holiday tree lighting since the 1990s, and Storey objected on the grounds that the change amounted to an endorsement of a specific religion.
The new name of the event will remain in place, as approved by the council, the mayor and the councilwoman said. Storey still opposes the change.
Storey and Hokanson said a misunderstanding between them before this week’s council meeting led to each feeling blindsided at the session.
Hokanson said: “It was never my intent to insult anyone’s beliefs or religion. We live in an increasingly diverse community, and we have to come to grips with that fact.”
Storey said: “The new committee will help the borough identify and better deal with diversity and all of its issues, and hopefully head off such disagreements.”