Editor’s Note: This continues the Meet the Leaders profile series in The Alternative Press of South Plainfield. The objective is to provide our readers the opportunity to hear from South Plainfield’s leaders in government, public safety, commerce and other areas, regarding South Plainfield’s present and future outlook, their background and what they enjoy doing in their private life. In order to keep the format consistent, The Alternative Press presented each individual with the same five questions. We are publishing their answers unedited.
Meet the Leaders – Amy Lorinda Antonides, Municipal Clerk
I was born in Point Pleasant Hospital, NJ and now reside in Freehold Township, Monmouth County. I enjoy living in such a centrally located area the enables me to really enjoy all that New Jersey has to offer in a reasonable commute. Plus being so close to the Freehold Mall is a bonus! I am very happily married to my wonderful husband John, who without his love, humor, and endless support, I would not be the person that I am today. I am further blessed with one sport adoring son, a computer loving step-son, a soccer playing step-daughter, and let me not forget my little dog Muffin, known as the terror of the neighborhood.
WHAT INSPIRED ME TO PURSUE A CAREER IN GOVERNMENT?
Baring in mind that a career is no longer a career ladder, but more like a career jungle gym, I have enjoyed a rather multi-faceted career path that led me straight into municipal government. In early 1997, I remember the day vividly, when my colleague asked if I would be a reference on her resume. During the conversation she advised me that she is seeking something more fulfilling and rewarding. She wanted to enter a new career field which would give something back to her community that she loved so much. She had a real passion for wanting to help others. The rungs on the ladder lead her to working for the ASPCA. I was truly inspired by her and soon I began my search for a community oriented position. In the Fall of 1997, I became employed with Colts Neck Township as the Secretary to the DPW. Within a year, I was then promoted to the Secretary to the Administrator, later I was promoted as the Deputy Clerk, the Registrar, and the Library Coordinator.
In 2005, a new section of that career jungle gym availed itself to me when the Borough of Interlaken hired me as their Administrator, Municipal Clerk, Appropriate Authority of the Police Department, Treasurer, and Website Coordinator. In 2010 an opportunity again opened up on that career jungle gym to work for a much larger municipality. I accepted the position of Municipal Clerk, Registrar, Deputy Tax Collector, Board of Health Secretary, Assessing Clerk, Clean Community Coordinator and Recycling Coordinator for the Township of North Hanover.
In mid-2012 I applied for the Municipal Clerk position for South Plainfield, not because I was at all unhappy in my present position, but just curious to see what an even larger municipality may have to offer. Upon my interview, despite not being familiar with South Plainfield at all, my immediate impression was a feeling that I could make a real difference in this community if given a chance. It just felt right. Today, I am so happy and so very grateful that the Borough of South Plainfield chose me to serve in the role as their Municipal Clerk.
The career jungle gym provided me with a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience in most every capacity of municipal government thus making me a very well rounded employee to better serve the residents of the Borough of South Plainfield. As an aside, my career jungle gym, in May of 2013, provided me with yet another fantastic opportunity of working as an Instructor for Rutgers’s University teaching the new and upcoming Municipal Clerks of New Jersey. I am so blessed to be able to have a career doing all the things that I love; serving such a warm friendly community and teaching enthusiastic students.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITIES OR CHALLENGES FACING SOUTH PLAINFIELD TODAY?
A challenge that I often encounter is having to be the bad guy in telling residents that unless they are a bona fide non-profit entity they are not able to serve alcohol at their family parties they wish to hold at the Senior Center. There is a Social Affair Permit which allows for alcohol to be served for a bona fide non-profit entity, but not for individuals and their families and friends. I am confident the State has it’s reasons for such restrictions, though I don’t enjoy seeing the sad and disappointed looks on the faces of those I have to give the bad news to as they often tell me how much this puts a damper on their party or event. For that I am sorry.
As the old saying goes “an opportunity is never lost because someone else will take the one you missed”. As evidenced in the below mentioned priority for my office, I realized earlier this year there was an opportunity in saving our citizens from being unnecessarily charged fees for the release of their old escrow, performance and/or maintenance fees and thus am taking action to try to prevent that from occurring.
WHAT ARE THE TOP PRIORITIES ON YOUR “TO DO LIST” AS A BOROUGH CLERK?
This year my office is going through with a fine tooth comb every single performance, maintenance, and escrow file that my office is responsible to maintain to sift out the old ones which projects have been deemed long completed and release any and all funds back to the appropriate parties. Citizens should be warned that that there are outside independent agencies who solicit our applicants who have at one time put up escrow, performance or maintenance bonds or cash for their project which has come to full term. These companies will promise to get the return of any outstanding fees on behalf of their client by charging them a fee of upwards of 33% of the total due back to the applicant. If the applicant does not pay these agencies within a certain strict time frame they will then charge an additional daily fee until the day they are in receipt of their payment. Citizens DO NOT need to utilize these companies. The Borough will return any unused fees back to the applicant upon completion of the term, at no cost! Just contact the Municipal Clerk’s office for the procedure necessary for the release of any escrow, performance or maintenance bonds or cash that have come to full term.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
What spare time? All kidding aside, I enjoy spending as much time with my family as possible whether running errands, taking the kids to their sport activities, or spending time with my now five month old new Nephew. Summer evenings are most enjoyable sitting on my front porch watching the kids and our little dog “Muffin” play soccer in our front yard. I live for those moments. When not relaxing on my front porch talking about the day, I try to use my time fitting in some good old fashioned exercise. I confess sometimes it takes everything in my being to force myself to go to the gym, but despite that, the feeling of accomplishment I feel after a good strong workout is second to none. On that note, I have become recently passionate about healthy, nutritional eating habits that I am trying to instill in my family. My fingers are crossed that they will follow my lead. Getting my son to eat his veggies is a real challenge!
I have some “downtime” while on my one hour commute back and forth to work. I try to make good use of that commuting time by catching up on some good reading…with audio books of course! To name two audio books I have recently enjoyed during some most hectic traffic commutes; “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, and Colin Powell’s autobiography; “In Life and Leadership”. Both excellent reads that enrich the mind.
On Saturday’s in the Spring and Fall you also can find me teaching eager students that are seeking to become a licensed Municipal Clerk; a truly rewarding and fulfilling experience.
FIVE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE SOUTH PLAINFIELD:
When asked to name five words to best describe South Plainfield, I immediately jotted down the very first adjectives that came to mind: Diverse, Resourceful, Integrated, Compassionate, and Assiduous. I could with ease go on to name many other attributes as South Plainfield is unique in so many ways inclusive of a rich history. As evidenced by census data there is a steady population increase which leads me to believe that South Plainfield is truly the place to be