HAWTHORNE, NJ - At the Wednesday night Borough Council Reorganization Meeting, Republican Ward 2 Councilwoman Rayna Laiosa raised her hand and took the oath of office to serve for a four year term with her family standing at her side. When the oath, administered by Mayor Richard Goldberg, was completed, she shook hands with members of the administration, council, and borough staff.
Laiosa is the Chairwoman of the Hawthorne Environmental Commission and is the first woman to sit on the Hawthorne Borough Council since Shirley Shortway-English resigned shortly after winning a second term in 2010.
"I would like to thank everyone who supported and voted for me as your Ward 2 councilwoman. I would like to thank my husband, Edward Van Gunst, and our daughter Kaitlyn Van Gunst, and my parents Marie Walker and Jim Walker in Heaven for always supporting me and encouraging me," she said in her address. "It's been over a decade since a woman has been on the council and I'm honored to represent our Hawthorne residents in Ward 2. I appreciate your confidence in my knowledge and experience to do what's in the best interest of Hawthorne, and for recognizing my leadership with the local and county governments to resolve issues that will move Hawthorne forward."
Laiosa (R) won the 2019 election against Thomas Bushnauskas (D) with a margin of 9 votes. She assumed the seat that had been held by former Council Vice President John Bertollo (R) following his decision not to seek re-election.
"As the chair of the Hawthorne Environmental Commission, I have a working relationship with Mayor Goldberg, the council, the borough engineer, the borough attorney, the Department of Public Works, and the Hawthorne Police. This is the basis for a foundation on how the Borough of Hawthorne operates and how projects are accomplished," Laiosa said.
She said her nickname is "Ms. Persistence" and outlined four major priorities in her address. They were speeding vehicles, addressing "shortcomings" with the garbage and recycling services, fair equity with regards to the property tax revaluation for businesses and residents, and lastly to support local businesses.
"Since 2012, I've built a working partnership with the Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce to promote 'Buy Local' campaigns. Each one of the local businesses generously donates to Hawthorne organizations and the school system. We need, more than ever, to support our businesses. They are faced with increased minimum wages and paid sick leave for their employees," she said, referring to the $11 an hour state minimum wage which went into effect with the new year. "We need to say thank you and recognize them as valuable contributors to our community."
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