HAMILTON, NJ - They came out by the hundreds on Wednesday, filling every seat, and then some, at The Stone Terrace as Hamilton Township got a new mayor and two new members of the township council.
The ceremony, complete with sounds of the Hamilton Township Professional Firefighters Pipe and Drum Band, came less than two months after former Council President defeated now former mayor Kelly Yaede in an, at times, contentious election.
The victory by Martin, as well as his running mates, Pat Papero and Nancy Phillips, brought about one-party rule in Hamilton with all six locally elected positions now being held by Democrats.
In the days following his election Martin would appoint Rachel Holland and Sharon Shinkle Gardner to lead a transition team made of community leaders and subject matter experts installed to help his new Administration pursue the policies he spoke of on the campaign trail.
While the event drew political and governmental dignitaries from across Mercer County and beyond, there was no doubting that the event was a celebration of the new local leaders, led by Martin, whom current Councilman Anthony Carabelli Jr. referred to as a “true diplomat, strong listener, and all around good guy.”
Though Yaede was not in attendance, her predecessor John Bencivengo, as well as outgoing councilwoman Ileana Schirmer were both recognized.
With the official election results presented by municipal clerk Eileen Gore, Phillips would be the first to take her oath of office, administered by Assemblyman Dan Benson. Saying she’d follow Benson’s example as a public service, Phillips concluded brief comments focused mainly on offering gratitude to her family, friends, and mentors that helped lead her to victory by speaking directly to the audience and saying “I hope I can make you proud.”
Following Phillips was Papero, a Mercer County Sheriff’s Officer also turned first time elected official, who led off by recognizing all the public safety officials in the room and promising to work with all union members to “protect collective bargaining.”
“Today is the day we spoke of for a long time,” Papero said, acknowledging the leadership he anticipates will come from the Office of the Mayor, now occupied by Martin, in restoring “integrity, character, and professionalism” to Hamilton Township.
The current council now in place, the four current local legislators selected from among themselves a president and vice president, electing Rick Tighe and Pat Papero to the positions unanimously, moving swiftly through their first official agenda that included designating meeting dates, approving temporary appropriations, and designating official newspapers.
Finally, with anticipation high throughout the room, Martin took the stage to a standing ovation, received the oath of office from New Jersey State Senator Troy Singleton, and offered his own inaugural address, focusing on working in unity with the council, residents, and other stakeholders to “get the business of Hamilton done.”
“Today we start with a clean slate,” Martin said.
“We face many challenges, each bringing opportunities,” he added before calling for all to unite to move Hamilton forward.
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