I learned late Friday afternoon that Councilwoman Susan Poage made an independent decision to ask for a recount on Friday. This is a decision she made, and I respect it. If there is one thing I have learned through this pandemic, we must understand that everyone has their own reasons and own experiences for coming to certain personal decisions. We need more understanding and less criticism during these difficult times.
Regardless of the actions of Councilwoman Poage, I have also moved forward to transitioning new Councilman-elect Jeff Varnerin as I am scheduled to meet with him in just a few days at my home. I will continue—as I always have done from Day 1—to work with Councilwoman Kingsley as business has never been interrupted with Jeanne and myself.
Sadly, at a time when I was trying to enjoy some holiday cheer decorating our home with my family, I received a text message with a link to a TAPinto story fraught with politically charged accusations. A Republican political operative, Harrison Neely, paid for a press release to disseminate accusatory information specifically aimed at maligning myself and Councilwoman Poage. This saddens me because there are a vast number of Republicans that I work with productively for the betterment of this Township. When will I be able to say that Berkeley Heights is a WE not “THE” Republican Party or “THE” Democratic Party?
Let me be clear --- very clear. Since taking office as Mayor, I have appointed Republican and Democratic professionals, I have appointed and reappointed Republican, Unaffiliated and Democratic volunteers to committees and boards. Even individuals who were the Republican campaign managers against my candidacy, and those who very publicly opposed me; I mustered up my better self and reappointed them.
My metrics have always been simple: Do what is in the best interest if the Township.
Please rebuke the tactics of 2018. The statement released last night – which has since been edited to take my name out, but the intent and the tactics will not be forgotten - feels eerily like two years ago. At the end of the 2018 mayoral race, the Republican State Committee mailed lies about my background and business and attempted a fear mongering campaign against me that was despicable at best. This morning, we are seeing comments made on social media impugning Councilwoman Poage for exercising her electoral right. This is also unacceptable.
I have cared for this town as it were my own family -- because you ARE my family.
Let’s not allow these tactics to divide us.
Mayor Angie Devanney