CRANFORD, NJ – Cranford Mayor Thomas Hannen Jr. was officially appointed and sworn in as chairman/mayor of the committee for another year at Tuesday night’s reorganization meeting.
Along with Hannen, current commissioner Ann Dooley was appointed and sworn in as vice chairman/deputy mayor, former deputy mayor Patrick Giblin was sworn in as commissioner for another three-year term and Jean-Albert Maisonneuve was sworn in as commissioner for his first three-year term. All were surrounded by family as they took the oath of office.
“Thanks to my family for coming out this evening to help me perform the duties that I am very happy that my colleagues elected me to,” Hannen said. “I’d like to thank them and my wife for the time spent away from home, because as all members on this board realize, there’s a lot of time spent away from home.”
Hannen also thanked Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski, who swore in Hannen, Giblin and Maisonneuve after a pause in the meeting to track down a Bible. Dooley was sworn in by her brother, Thomas Dooley, Esq.
“How many Dooleys does it take to administer an oath of office?” she joked. “I’d like to know the answer. Nonetheless, please know I take that oath very solemnly.”
Dooley cited the forward momentum of the Birchwood project, downtown redevelopment and an updated master plan as priorities for Cranford in 2018.
“We have to seize upon these opportunities to position ourselves as a town that is not just for the now but for the future, a compelling future, and we will get there,” she said. “These are very exciting times for us.”
During the meeting, the invocation was led by Pastor Thomas Rice of Cranford Alliance Church and the flag salute was led by Cranford’s Police and Fire Honorary Color Guard. Attendees included New Jersey Senator Thomas Kean Jr., Kowalski, New Jersey Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, Police Chief Ryan Greco, Fire Chief Dan Czeh and members of the Cranford Police and Fire Departments.
“I feel honored,” Maisonneuve told TAPinto Cranford. “It’s pretty interesting to start this all off and I’m overwhelmed by the moment right now. It’s an opportunity to really do right for the community and be part of it. I’m looking forward to it all.”
Maisonneuve ran alongside Patrick Giblin last fall, filling the seat formerly held by Andis Kalnins.
“I’d like to thank my family for helping me take the oath of office for a second term on the township committee and also my parents,” Giblin said. “I’m once again humbled by the confidence placed in me by the Cranford voters a few short months ago. I look forward to serving Cranford again for another three years.”
Giblin also thanked various committees he’s served on and named affordable housing obligations and the elimination of State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions as the biggest threats to Cranford.
“New Jersey is in a property tax crisis,” Giblin said. “Us as commissioners really need to take a look and see what we can do to improve that situation and take our message to Union County and the State of New Jersey. It needs to be a bipartisan effort to address that issue.”
Commissioner Mary O’Connor, who was appointed commissioner of finance, congratulated her colleagues on their appointments and elections and thanked Kalnins for his service to the town. She also said Cranford's greatest challenge is meeting its affordable housing without losing its character.
"People leave urban sectors to come to Cranford for a reason," she said. "Our approach to development has to keep that in mind. We can create affordable housing opportunities while maintaining local control over planning and zoning boards. It needs to be top priority for the Cranford Township Committee this year."
The pastor all commissioners reminded to keep life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in mind while serving the people of Cranford.
“We turn toward a new year with fresh hope and a vision for the future,” Rice said. “I pray a special blessing for these leaders here tonight. Give each person clarity of mind, courage, creativity, compassion, due diligence and healthy sense of humor.”