The first meeting of the municipality was rescheduled due to snow from its original January 4th date to this past Sunday. At noon, with a pounding of the gavel, as Mayor Carl Hokanson started the last year of his first-term as the head of the borough, Roselle Park introduced the 118th version of the borough’s governing body.
After Mariann Brenner led those in attendance with singing the National Anthem, First Ward Councilman Eugene Meola gave his farewell address. Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey was not in attendance, having stated during the December 28th special meeting of the governing body that she would be absent due to the health of her 96-year-old father-in-law. At that meeting, Councilwoman Storey gave her closing remarks and are available in a separate article [link].
Click to read Councilman Meola's Farewell Address
I’ve seen a lot more now since then, and I know the hard work that goes into being a councilperson. What you see here, just us sitting up here and saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to certain questions put before us, is just the tip. Meetings that come and… every day there seems to be something that we have to talk about, some fires that we have to put out, and some things that need to be discussed. It’s a long process, and I wish Jayme all the luck in the world, and I will be at her disposal should she need me for any reason at all. I’ll be available for any questions or any particular person in the first ward you might want me to comfort or talk to. Because I know over the years, they’ve chewed my ears a few times and told me how they like things and how they didn’t like them and we always came to a compromise. These are first ward residents.
Being a councilperson, I made a lot of friends that will be here after I step off this dais. I expect to speak with them now that I’m not a councilperson anymore and they’ve taken the time to tell me so. This is a plus to me. I can’t put it [into] words [but] it comes from my heart. There’s a lot of good people in this community; people that make this community. The people in the borough hall, I take my hat off to you; to do this every day. The council people, all the clerks, and the people in charge. I don’t know how Ken [Blum] does this. I wish he was here so I could tell him, I don’t know how he does it, but he makes the borough run, and the clerk, everyone. So I’m going to just be brief, and I will come back from time-to-time to tell people what I liked [and] what I don’t like, but I’ll be sitting out there when I do it.
So, that being that, I will just say my farewells to everyone on council, wish them the best of luck, and that’s it. Say [my] goodbyes and that’s it. Thank you very much for hearing me out and farewell.
Mr. Meola stepped down and entered private life as he sat in the audience.
The oaths of office were then given publicly and formally to two new councilmembers. Newcomer, and the only woman on the dais, Jayme Negron, was sworn in as first ward councilwoman. Former mayor Joseph DeIorio also, for the seventh time, raised his hand and gave his word that he would do his best for Roselle Park as Councilman-At-Large. This is the third elected office Mr. DeIorio has held in local government.
Once both took their seats on the dais, the 2018 municipal governing body roll call was held with all elected officials in attendance. The only person missing from the dais was Chief Financial Officer Ken Blum.
Mayor Hokanson started the year’s official business with his annual address.
Click to read Mayor Hokanson's Annual Address
Recently, a friend reminded me of a quote by a baseball coach. He said, “It’s amazing how much can be accomplished when no one worries about taking the credit.”
This is so true, and the point is that as a group we are able to accomplish much. And to those who are privileged to sit up here, hopefully, we will do more.
The borough is on the move. The Meridia project – the largest construction in 50 years – means growth and tax ratables for you, the taxpayers of the Borough of Roselle Park. The new development of the old Sullivan property, as in baseball terms, is on the on-deck circle, which will bring more ratables for you, the taxpayer of the Borough of Roselle Park. Beyond the economic benefit, I am encouraged that the new developments on Westfield Avenue mean foot traffic to help the businesses that are already here to grow and be more prosperous. To meet the needs of the new development, we, not me, we – as council – expanded the hours of the construction department. Thank you, Frank. All new development will [be] up to code and in full compliance.
No one can say that Roselle Park is no business-friendly anymore. You have seen this action take place. It applies to the Hawthorne Street project [which] remained stagnant for 17 years. Again, thank you, Frank. I have said it; if you build it, they will come. And they are coming, folks. Yes, they are coming. I made a promise to my members of the Municipal Land Use Board. I told them last year I will keep you busy. I’m going to keep that promise again this year. Promises will bring in more tax revenue to help you, the taxpayer of the Borough of Roselle Park.
My proposal to grant tax abatement [for] home improvements has also been adopted to help you, again, the taxpayer of Roselle Park, and [to] watch the impact this has on – not mine – our community.
As we enter the new year, I believe that real leadership means always striving to carve out a fresh path. Our differences are so minor compared to our common goals. Let us not be afraid to boast about – not mine, not yours – [but] our Roselle Park. All the different ethnic mix of this community, the fact that we are readily available for rail service, accesses to major highways, and other big businesses [are big pluses]. Thank you, Tom Kean, for getting us that handicap accessibility to make Roselle Park even greater.
Our residents are intense, and the spirit of Roselle Park is alive, very much alive. For those who know me, you know I can’t end my remarks without a reference to the great tank commander General George S. Patton, Jr. He once said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
Let us strive to work together and show respect for one another’s input so that our wonderful borough can achieve, grow, and prosper. Support our troops. God bless.
First Ward Councilwoman Jayme Negron gave her inaugural address as a public official:
Click to read Councilwoman Negron's remarks
Campaigning can bring out the worst in people. I made a very deliberate choice early on to not speak negatively about my opponents. To be honest, every person who has sat up here has made a mistake at some point. Every person who will hold a place here in the future, myself included, will make a mistake. We are human. Those mistakes will be learning experiences for some and for others their mistakes will be their undoing. But I’d like to believe one of the things that binds all of the previous councilmembers and mayors to the future ones is their love for this town. I know that’s what drove me to run.
So with that said, I’d like to thank Eugene Meola and Maxine Padulsky for running during this election. I believe we all want what’s best for this borough and I have nothing but respect for both candidates. I’d like to thank Eugene specifically for his kindness and support. We stood side-by-side in the rain on election day thanking every resident for coming out to vote, regardless of who they were voting for. That is the way small-town politics should be.
Next, I would like to thank the team of people who worked alongside me and believed in me during my campaign. I chose to run as a Republican not because I believe in party politics but because running with a party of people like Joe DeIorio, Thos Shipley, and Will Fahoury was an honor and a privilege. I knew these men for their character and dedication to Roselle Park before I knew which party they belonged to. Thank you all for your support, advice, and hard work. I have met so many supporters during my campaign and now have the privilege to call some friends. You all know who you are so, in an attempt to keep this speech brief, thank you to each and every one of you.
From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank my family. To my husband Antonio, your support and love are what drives me, your encouragement is what fuels me, and your belief in me is what keeps me going. I always will love you more than yesterday. To my children Ayden and Dyanna, you are two pieces of my heart that beat outside of me. I can never tell you enough how proud I am to be your mother. God truly blessed me with two of the most polite, optimistic, tender, cheerful, and loving children any woman could ever hope to have. To all of my family and friends that are here today, thank you for your support, and I love you all endlessly.
In closing, I’d like to give my gratitude to God. My husband and I try our best to go to church on Sundays and apply the lessons we learn to our life every day. At the beginning of my campaign, there were times I doubted myself. Then, one Sunday, our pastor spoke about Nehemiah. God called Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah faced all kinds of criticism. He was not a carpenter, and many thought he would fail. But he stayed the course and did what he felt God wanted him to do. And he knew God had a plan for him. And in just 52 days he had rebuilt the walls and temple with the help of people who rallied around him and had faith his vision could be accomplished. That Sunday, my doubts were put to rest. I related to Nehemiah’s story. I know I will be faced with opposition often. I know there will be those that prefer to criticize the decisions I make while I’m on council. But there will also be people that stand tall, roll up their sleeves, and work with me to move our borough into a brighter future. It might take longer than 52 days, but we’ll get there if we work together. Thank you all, God bless, and I look forward to working together to make the town we all love even better.
Councilman-At-Large Joseph DeIorio, for the 21st time, addressed residents as an elected official:
Click to read Councilman DeIorio's Remarks
It goes without saying that my mom, Gilda DeIorio, is my number one fan. She has been there since day one in good times and in bad and continues to be the strong-willed, independent businesswoman and caring individual that I love and admire. By the way, right now she’s cooking up a storm at La Casa di Martino, so after today’s ceremonies, please join all of us regardless of party or… If you want a good time, come to La Casa di Martino after today’s meeting and enjoy some good hot food and say hi to mom.
I would also like to offer my sincere gratitude to my extended family of friends, new and old; many who are here today, and special thank you to Councilman William Fahoury and to Jessica Johns for your tenacity during this campaign and to most of all for your friendship. To Councilwoman Jayme Lynn Negron, I could not have run with a better person and have been able to know such a wonderful family. I look forward to your new energy and perspective on council.
I would like to thank the members of the local and county Republican Committee, the Roselle Park Chairman Larry Leone, and our 21st District representatives Senator Tom Kean, Assembly members Bramnick and Munoz. Thank you for being here today.
I would also like to thank my husband, Councilman Thos Shipley. It wasn’t surprising that we became the focus of a negative campaign because of the possibility of us being in elected office and as a married couple. But the ever-changing opinions of the people of Roselle Park and the acceptance of the voters thought otherwise, and today we make history in the State of New Jersey and possibly nationwide. As my husband, I love you dearly, but as councilman, I can assure you and to the public that our opinions will not always be the same.
To our retiring members Councilwoman Charlene Storey and Councilman Eugene Meola, thank you. Thank you for your service, and I wish you well in private life. Your service to the borough did not go unnoticed, and many times it was a thankless job. And especially to Councilman Meola; you showed many times that you can be a true gentleman.
I look forward to serving with you Mayor Hokanson and the members of governing body. Individually, we have strengths, skills, and experiences to offer. If we can place our focus on these strengths, we can accomplish much.
While I return to this governing body as councilman-at-large, I return with a different perspective. I did not have to run. I wanted to run for office to share my experiences, more so from my experiences working for and with other communities outside Roselle Park. Interacting with other professionals, learning about their best practices and strengths and strategies and tools, has afforded me the opportunity to bring this knowledge back to Roselle Park.
I have many ideas to share but to implement those ideas and the ideas of all of my colleagues; we need your help. Everyone, not just us sitting up here, but the public at large. This is our community. We play a role, big or small in its development, its successes or its failures.
That is why I will be starting a regular ‘Conversations with your Councilman’ program based on Mayor Hokanson’s successful ‘Meetings with the Mayor’. These meetings will be held periodically in small businesses and other locations throughout the borough, giving small business and organizations the opportunity to share information about their product or service and then lead into an interactive discussion about town business. These ideas will be conveyed over time, but the focus of business development will be paramount.
It has been said [that] Roselle Park is not business-friendly. They said that when I was in office and the same has been said even today. Back then I did not want to believe it, and to some degree, I took offense to it. You see, while I consider elected officials back then and now to be friendly, welcoming of businesses, and excited to recognize existing businesses, as [a] borough government we convey the sentiment inside and outside our municipality in a different way.
I grew up around small business. I grew up pumping gas at my father’s gas station and later working at my mother’s delicatessen. Owning a small business isn’t glamorous. You work long hours, you don’t get paid holidays or paid vacation, and there’s no such thing as sick time. And paid health insurance? Unheard of.That is why 20% of businesses will fail in their first year, and by their fifth year, only half of them will survive. So as everyday people struggle to make ends meet, businesses are also struggling to survive, not only to pay their business expenses but to pay to keep the roof over theirs and their family’s heads.
We have all of the key elements to be a greater community. I’m not just saying this. Statewide research has pointed out that Roselle Park has the key features to succeed and prosper. We all want to be business-friendly, but how we prove will be the larger question.
In his book “Looking Forward”, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote, “It is common sense to [take] a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly, and try another but above all, try something.”
We have a lot of challenges facing us, but I am positive with the right attitude and the work of this governing body we will get the job done. Thank you.
The meeting proceeding with the necessary business of appointments of those who would serve, in one capacity or another, the residents of Roselle Park.
Fourth Ward Councilman William Fahoury was unanimously elected as council president.
Councilman-At-Large Joseph DeIorio was appointed without objection as the liaison to the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB).
Fourth Ward Councilman William Fahoury was reappointed by all as the Diversity Committee Council Liaison.
The Recreation Committee liaison was, once again, Second Ward Councilman Joseph Petrosky.
Committees of council was the next item to be voted on with five out of the seven members of council getting two appointments each. Councilman Petrosky was given appointed to the Legislative Committee. Mayor Carl Hokanson was appointed only as the police commissioner.
2018 Appointments (Council Committees)
|Construction & Transportation|
|FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION|
|Municipal Budget & Finance|
|Public Buildings & Facilities|
|PUBLIC SERVICES & ADMINISTRATION|
2018 Appointments (Community Center Committee)
|Committee Member||Vipul Patel||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Carl Pluchino||December 31, 2020|
|Committee Member||Michael Peterson||December 31, 2020|
|Committee Member||Maxine Padulsky||December 31, 2019|
|Committee Member (Association Representative)||Christine Lettieri||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member (Library Representative)||Katherine 'Kit' Rubino||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member (Board Of Education Representative)||Kimberly Powers||December 31, 2018|
|Council Representative||William Fahoury||December 31, 2018|
The library board saw the return of Jenny Lichtenwalner for a five-year term, replacing Maxine Padulsky who was not re-appointed after completing Alex Balaban’s unexpired term. Ms. Lichtenwalner had been on the board previously but was not re-appointed when her initial term was completed.
2018 Appointments (Library Board)
|Committee Member||Jenny Lichtenwalner||December 31, 2022|
|Committee Member||Brooke Paskewich||December 31, 2022|
|Council Representative||Joseph DeIorio||December 31, 2018|
The arts committee had Joseph DeIorio appointed as a resident with Councilman Shipley remaining as the council liaison.
2018 Appointments (Arts Committee)
|Committee Member||Danielle Zdanowicz||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Paul Zdanowicz||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Pam Reinoso||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Pico Reinoso||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Shana O'Keefe||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Joseph DeIorio||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Jamie O'Connell||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Kristy May Chatelain||December 31, 2018|
|Council Representative||Thomas 'Thos' Shipley||December 31, 2018|
Animal Control had an additional appointment of former Roselle Park resident Alex Balaban.
2018 Appointments (Animal Control Bureau)
|Liaison||Carl Hokanson||December 31, 2018|
|Liaison||Alex Balaban||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (BOE Council Liaison)
|Council Liaison||Jayme Lynn Negron||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Clean Communities)
|Council Liaison||William Fahoury||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Union County Community Development Revenue Sharing Committee)
|Committee Member||Rupen Shah||December 31, 2018|
|Council Liaison||Carl Hokanson||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Joseph R. DeIorio||December 31, 2018|
|Alternate Committee Member||Vacant||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Diversity Committee)
|Committee Member||Stephanie Kilborn||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Connie Bana||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Jeof Vita||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Saul Qersdyn||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Odalys Arbelaez||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Robert Jones-Goldstein||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Wilma Sekou||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Michael Wilkens||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||(Vacant)||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Environmental Commission)
|Commission Member||Dan Petrosky||December 31, 2020|
|Commission Member||Michael Peterson||December 31, 2020|
|Commission Member||Jackie Nolt||December 31, 2020|
|Commission Member||Yasmine Coello||December 31, 2020|
|Commission Member||(Vacant)||December 31, 2020|
|Commission Member (Alternate I)||(Vacant)||December 31, 2019|
|Commission Member (Alternate II)||(Vacant)||December 31, 2018|
|Council Representative||Michael Connelly||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Keeper of Kelly-Kaulfers ad hoc Committee)
|Committee Member||Ray Parenteau||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Municipal Alliance Liaison)
|Liaison||William Fahoury||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Municipal Land Use Board)
|Committee Member, Class II||Peter Picarelli||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member, Class IV||Loren Harms||December 31, 2021|
|Committee Member, Alternate III||Owen Iungerman||December 31, 2019|
|Committee Member, Alternate IV||Gregory Delano||December 31, 2019|
|Committee Member||Jeanine Goodis||December 31, 2022|
|Committee Member||John Schwarz||December 31, 2022|
|Council Representative||Joseph Petrosky||December 31, 2018|
Noticeable from this Solid Waster Advisory Council is that the designee is listed as a position, DPW Superintendent, and not the actual current superintendent Mark Pasquali.
2018 Appointments (Solid Waste Advisory Council Of Union County)
|Designee||DPW Superintendent||December 31, 2018|
|Alternate Designee||Thomas 'Thos' Shipley||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Street Lighting ad hoc Committee)
|Committee Member||Joseph Signorello||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||James McCrady||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Town Crier)
|Town Crier||Barbara Jean DeInero||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Youth Center ad hoc Advisory Committee)
|Committee Member||Joseph Signorello||December 31, 2018|
|Committee Member||Antonette Signorello||December 31, 2018|
|Council Liaison||Joseph Petrosky||December 31, 2018|
2018 Appointments (Borough Historian)
|Borough Historian||Patricia Butler||December 31, 2018|
|Council Representative||Joseph Petrosky||December 31, 2018|
36 resolutions were read into the record and voted on. There was only resolution, the appointment of the borough historian, that was not unanimous. Resolution 29-18 had Councilman-At-Large DeIorio voting against appointing Patricia Butler as borough historian. When asked for his vote, Councilman-At-Large DeIorio stated, “I felt that the position has become too partisan. Back in March of 2016, I had addressed the governing body at that time regarding an incident that disturbed me when certain members of council were acknowledged by the historian for their donation to the borough’s 115 birthday celebration – leaving out the mayor and other councilmembers. So specifically, because I felt that it’s become partisan.”
Another significant change in the order of business was the postponement of various service professional providers’ appointments, which are usually approved at the first meeting of the year. Those appointments will be made at the January 18th Mayor & Council meeting, after bidders for annual service contracts – which include various attorney positions – are interviewed on two nights – January 9th and 15th.
The 2018 annual organization meeting ended with Mariann Brenner – once again – leading those in attendance in singing “God Bless America”.
Click to enlarge photograph