HAMILTON, NJ -- Hamilton's Township Council has a new member following a unanimous vote by the current members of the body for Charles "Chuddy" Whelan, III to fill the vacant seat left when Jeff Martin was sworn in as mayor on January 1. Whalen will complete the term which ends on December 31.
During Tuesday's special meeting three candidates presented their qualifications and answered questions prior to the council members casting their final vote to fill the vacancy. In addition to Whalen, the Council considered the nominations of Jennifer Coffey and Keith Platt. Coffey co-chairs the Martin transition sub-committee on Land Use and Environment and works as the executive director of the New Jersey Environmental Commissions while Platt, a navy veteran, is currently a practicing attorney and serves on the Township's Economic Development Advisory Committee. Platt is also a former corrections officer.
A life-long Hamiltonian, Whelan is a business agent for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 9 labor union. He has served as a member of Hamilton Township Planning Board and was recently named co-chair of the Labor and Workforce subcommittee for Martin's mayoral transition team. He also serves as a trustee on NJ SEED and was previously a member of the Mercer County Workforce Investment Board.
A local youth sports coach, Whalen is an active member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and was grand marshal of the 2019 Hamilton Township St. Patrick's Day parade.
Whalen told the council that among his priorities would be rehabilitating vacant and boarded-up homes. He suggested attracting light industry to these areas of the township or using these areas for sources of community pride, citing an unused plot of land owned by the township near Colonial Fire House that he believes could be used to create a lighted football facility.
While highlighting his experience as a labor union leader, Whalen focused on his family's deep roots in Hamilton.
"I come from a middle-class family and I care about my hometown so much," said Whalen. "Appointing me to council would send a message to our hard-working families that feel under-represented and ignored. You are saying that a common sense approach to our complicated problems is needed."
Whelan also focused on the need "to put people to work."
"We need to come up with a plan so that developers know that when they come into Hamilton that we're trying to put Hamilton residents to work, not only on the permanent jobs that might be created on the businesses coming in but on the construction of the businesses," said Whalen.
"Put Hamilton people to work. The people that live here; that pay their taxes here; that send their kids to school here," said Whalen."It's not an easy plan, but sit down with developers and let them know that they should consider the people that live here in Hamilton Township when it comes to developing the area."
Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) administered the oath of office to Whalen to was surrounded by his his wife of 38 years, Sue, his siblings, children, and grandchildren.
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