FLEMINGTON, NJ – It was a party where parties didn’t matter. Maybe that’s because the honoree – as several people observed – was much more of a public servant than a politician.
They came to recognize John Gorman, who after serving more than 33 years on Borough Council, decided to not seek re-election this year.
His tenure prompted speculation among the crowd gathered here at the Women’s Club yesterday afternoon that he may hold the title of the state’s longest-serving official on a governing body. Former Rep. Leonard Lance suggested Gorman check with the state League of Municipalities to see if it could confirm the inkling. After all, Lance reasoned, Gorman paid plenty of dues to the organization over the years.
As might be expected, kind words and anecdotes were in abundant supply. But Borough Rebecca Newman may have summarized Gorman best: “He loves the community more than anyone,” she said.
That explains why Gorman, along with his wife Elaine Gorman, who is chair of the Borough’s Historic Preservation Commission, promised they won’t be going anywhere.
Mementos lined the walls: Campaign advertising, newspaper clippings, letters from governors, notes from speeches. And there were gifts, including a key to the Borough presented by Mayor Betsy Driver.
Gorman was honored in resolutions approved by the Borough, the Hunterdon Freeholders, and the state legislature.
County Clerk Mary Melfi recalled campaigning with Gorman and serving with him on Borough Council. His stepping aside from government means officials “will lose institutional memory,” she said. Gorman, after all, is thought to know exactly where every water and sewer line in Flemington is located.
On display for the first time in public was one of the road signs that will proclaim New York Avenue “John Gorman Way.”
Driver promised the signs will be installed next week. Borough Engineer Rob Martucci suggested Gorman check to see if that might require him to also maintain and pave the road in the future.
Elected officials in attendance included Freeholders Shaun Van Doren and John Lanza, state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman and former Flemington Mayors Erica Edwards and Phil Greiner.
Greiner recalled that Gorman’s “low-key” personality served him well, helping him reveal humor that would often “help diffuse a situation.”
“I leave office, but not the town,” Gorman said. “Let the beat go on.”