TAPinto Basking Ridge Spotlight: Carolyn Gaziano, 2017 Mayor of Bernards Township

Lord Stirling Stables
The White Oak Tree..
The Great Swamp exhibit at EEC
Snowfall measurement in Mayor's backyard.

"This year as mayor I will celebrate and document the beauty of Bernards Township.".

                                                                                                      - Mayor Carolyn Gaziano

BASKING RIDGE,NJ - Carolyn Gaziano has been a member of the Bernards Township Committee since 2009. Carolyn previously served as Mayor in 2013 and was again appointed Mayor for 2017 by the vote of the governing body. Her appointment was made at the Jan. 4 township reorganization meeting. Carolyn is a longtime resident of the town, a mother, and the founder of the Ridge High school Gymnastics and on the executive board of the Fencing team.

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TAP into Basking Ridge was recently able to visit with Carolyn to talk more with her about the year ahead.

TAP into Basking Ridge: What got you involved in government?

Mayor Carolyn Gaziano:  In 1994, I had stopped working to raise my kids and I had a good friend in my neighborhood, an older fellow, Sy Devery. He and I would talk politics when I would see him, usually when I walked my dog. One day Sy Devery suggested to me that since I had a background in environmental issues (because I had worked for Alcoa Recycling  for 7 years), that I should get involved with the town's environmental commission. Next thing I knew, in 1999, I was appointed to the environmental commission. I then went on to be on the Board of Adjustment and then the Planning Board.

Some years later former Mayor Carolyn Kelly asked if I would be interested in running for Township Committee. At first, I said no because I thought of all the terrible things written about politicians in the papers. But when I asked my family, the kids said, “Mom, you do all that stuff anyway. Just do it!" So, then I ended up running for Bernards Township Committee in 2009.

TAP into Basking Ridge: What are some of the changes you have seen during your 18-year tenure of public service in Basking Ridge?

Mayor Carolyn Gaziano: One of the biggest changes that has happened with the advent of The Hills [development]. It brought in a much younger population, which created the bubble that has gone through the school, they are all now seniors and juniors at Ridge High School. So not only did it bring a lot more people, but a lot more diversity and the kids don’t even notice it because they have had it their whole life. But, for us on the township side, [we are] trying to get newer people from the town to volunteer for things.  It’s harder to get people who are newer to the town to get involved and that effects groups like the Fire and First Aid squad which is 100 percent volunteer. That is a challenge for the township.

TAP into Basking Ridge: What are some of your initiatives for 2017?

Mayor Carolyn Gaziano:

  • We are going back on land use. When I was mayor in 2013, we passed like nine different land use [ordinances], which sort of just tightened up ordinances that already existed and or added to the control of development basically. It’s been four years since we looked at any of those parking ordinances and we know they need to be re-written and tightened up again.
  • Mayor’s speaker’s series and the topic is “Diversity, Culture and Immigration.” Each quarter we will feature a speaker, a resident who will share their family story of immigration to America and how their culture is expressed and assimilated into part of our American culture.
  • I want to do something that celebrated the beauty and diversity of the people, places and things of Bernards Township. We have stables, we have history, we have wild life and people from every different country and everyone gets along. There are places in our town that people have never been. So, I decided to bring some of these places and things to them thorough the Mayor’s Photo Album 2017 (Bernards Township page of Facebook)I

TAP into Basking Ridge: What advice would you give to someone contemplating public service to the township?

Mayor Carolyn Gaziano: What has worked for me is to just do my homework and look at everything logically. I really must know the law, learn the law and follow it. I do what I feel is best for the town. As an example, with the zoning board or the Planning Board the law is very clear, very black and white and there is not a lot of room for interpretation.  

But public service should be something that you really love. We love this town. My husband and I chose Basking Ridge in 1991 because we just loved the look of it. What really brought me into politics was that I very much wanted to keep our town exactly the way it is. I’m not a fan of traffic lights or overdevelopment. 

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