BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Returning Republican Councilwoman Jeanne Kingsley and first-time Democratic Councilwoman Susan Poage were sworn in Tuesday night at the annual Reorganization Meeting of the council. Both their messages focused on public participation.

State Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick swore in Kingsley whose husband Ed was at her side. She was later elected Council President.

Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen, a Democrat, swore in Poage, with her husband Russell by her side.

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This marks the first time in 20 years that two women have served on the council at the same time.

Later in the meeting Poage, reading from a prepared statement, thanked “everyone who came out this evening to show their support as I start this new experience.” She described what she has done in the previous six weeks to prepare for her role as a council member and said, “It is critical that all of us in government work together as cooperatively as possible … It is up to us in local government to make sure all voices are heard and respected; I pledge to do my part to make this happen.”

She referred to the phrase often cited by educators, "It takes a village to raise a child." She relates it to the words of Gabby Giffords, who said, "I'm fighting hard to make the world a better place, and you can, too. Get involved with your community, be a leader, set an example, be passionate, be your best." She said those words inspire her and concluded, "I encourage everyone who is not involved yet to come take a risk, believe in tomorrow and get involved in our community."

Kingsley welcomed Poage to the council, adding “It’s nice to have company up here.”

She gave an update on what has happened in the last few weeks, including work on a Request For Proposals (RFP) on the Hamilton Avenue property. She said she anticipated an RFP on the redevelopment of that property would be released “to the community and the public on or about Friday, Jan. 19.”  More details of that will be published in another article.

She told the residents "2018 will be a busy year, and exciting year" and urged people to come to budget meetings and Planning Board meetings on the various redevelopment projects in town.  "They do listen and they do make changes but, to talk about it on Facebook six months later, it's too late. The people working on these projects really do want input but you have to be part of the process."  Enhancing and expanding communications to township residents is her goal for 2018, but "It's a partnership and we need the public to partner with us and I look forward to that partnership."