FAIR LAWN, NJ – Lisa Swain was voted as mayor for the second time in her public service career last evening after Gail Rottenstrich and Josh Reinitz took the oath of office to begin their four-year terms as council people giving the democrats a majority.
Swain, who was mayor in 2011, is serving her 11th year on the council. She replaced John Cosgrove on Jan. 2, who completed five years as mayor and was named Deputy Mayor of Community Affairs at the Borough Council’s reorganization meeting.
Kurt Peluso was named Deputy Mayor for the second year in a row, and both Cosgrove and Peluso were sworn-in by New Jersey Assemblyman Joseph Lagana.
“I am dedicated to the future of Fair Lawn,” Swain said. “We have a challenging agenda ahead.”
Swain cited water quality, pedestrian safety, promoting the borough’s business districts, and seeking more grants.
Swain quoted Winston Churchill’s definition of courage as her governing philosophy: "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
She noted she and her husband, Ron Bienstock, have raised their family in the borough for 23 years.
“Hate has no home here,” Swain said.
Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Zur administered the oath of office to Swain.
Reinitz took his oath from Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
Fair Lawn resident Jennifer M. Mendelsohn, an attorney with an office in Fair Lawn, and a close friend to Rottenstrich, swore-in the new councilwoman.
New Jersey Senator Bob Gordon, a former Fair Lawn mayor, said the “most satisfying moments in a public servant’s life is when they can positively impact their neighbor’s lives.”
“For those of us in public service, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Gordon said.
Gordon gave them each a resolution commemorating the beginning of their terms in Fair Lawn.
Rottenstrich said she got involved after growing tired of watching government from the sidelines. She noted governing in town is a bipartisan effort.
“What unites us is greater than what divides us,” she said.
Reinitz said he realized he had “giant shoes to fill,” referring to former council members Amy Lefkowitz and Marc Zharnest, whom he and Rottenstrich defeated in the November election.
“I’m serving all 33,000 members of this community,” Reinitz said. “Whether you voted for me or not. I don’t have all the answers myself.”
He went on to encourage others to speak out.
“The cost of staying quiet is far greater than speaking up,” Reinitz said.
Former mayor David Ganz, now the longest serving democrat on the Bergen County Freeholder board, welcomed the new council people, as well.
The borough’s professionals were replaced, most notably the attorney.
Judy Verrone replaced Ronald Mondello, although Mondello will remain as tax appeal and special litigation counsel.