WESTFIELD, NJ – For the first time 15 years a Westfield resident is governing on the Union County Freeholder Board.
Kim Palmieri-Mouded took the oath of office Sunday, following her successful November election to the freeholders. Palmieri-Mouded joins the all-Democratic board, the majority of which is now comprised of women, marking a first in Union County’s history.
A native of Elizabeth, Palmieri-Mouded moved to Westfield with her family five years ago after living in Verona and Scotch Plains.
While Palmieri-Mouded said she is mindful that she represents the entire county, she will keep her hometown of Westfield in mind. It is a town that has not had a resident from its jurisdiction on the freeholder board since Mary Ruotolo, who served from 1998 to 2004.
“This is the first time in over 15 years that Westfield has representation on the freeholder board, and I look forward to being mindful of the issues of the residents in my hometown,” Palmieri-Mouded said. “I look forward to a strong working relationship between myself and our town government officials, ensuring that we are all working towards the same goals.”
Five of the nine freeholders are women, including the board’s chair, Bette Jane Kowalski, Freeholder Rebecca Williams of Plainfield and Freeholder Andrea Staten of Roselle, all of whom also were sworn in on Sunday.
“What an exciting time this is — for all of us — as we celebrate the more than 100 women now serving in the U.S. Congress,” said Kowalski in her prepared remarks Sunday. “They include Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Florida’s Donna Shalala, who nurtured a generation of women leaders as President of Hunter College while I was a student there.”
Palmieri-Mouded is pleased to be a part of that history.
“It’s a big accomplishment for Union county to have that moving forward. It’s just a lot of positive energy, and I think this will be a great thing for myself, the town and county,” she said.
Palmieri-Mouded mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Westfield Town Council in 2015, but has stayed active in local politics since, including with her recent mayoral appointment to Westfield’s Parks and Recreation Steering Committee, she said.
A former associate dean for student life at St. John’s University, she has four boys: 6-year-old twins, a 4-year-old and a 3-year-old. A class parent, she has also stayed active with the Newcomers Club of Westfield.
Palmieri-Mouded cited improvement of county parks as among her priorities. She includes the three county parks that touch Westfield: Echo Lake Park, Lenape Park and Unami Park.
“I am looking forward to working with our Parks Director to review a list of upcoming improvements for these sites. I am also excited to work with our chairwoman, Bette Jane Kowalski, on her initiatives this year, including shared services,” Palmieri-Mouded said.
While the new freeholder noted that she represents more than 500,000 people in 21 towns, Palmieri-Mouded said that, as a mom who once had four boys simultaneously ages 3 and under, she is up for the challenge of representing a regional constituency.
Palmieri-Mouded said that she wants residents to feel welcome to discuss with her issues of importance to them.
“I will advocate for them if it is something that we believe can improve quality of life in Westfield and county-wide,” Palmieri-Mouded said. “I am someone who is aware of Westfield’s tax burden and will work with the freeholders to continue to find fiscal efficiencies and work to keep the budget at or below the cap.”
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @Matt Kadosh