RANDOLPH, NJ- Over the past twelve months, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of being asked by TAP into Randolph to periodically share with its readers various updates on what is occurring here in our Township, as well as my thoughts with regard to those events.  It’s indeed been an excellent opportunity to sing the praises of various individuals and organizations within our community and I am grateful to Wendi and Chris Manderioli for both introducing and perpetuating this tradition on the pages of their website.  As many of you know, the term of Mayor under our Council-Manager form of government is one calendar year – meaning that I will step away from my responsibilities at our January 2, 2017 reorganization meeting and pass the proverbial baton along to my successor.

After having written several previous columns touting how wonderful of a community we’re blessed with here in Randolph Township, you may ask “What’s left for him to say?”  Though I am certainly very happy with where things currently stand here in town, like most folks I’m at times uneasy about what the future will bring.  In other words, are we on a path where the leaders of tomorrow will have the proper background with which to make decisions that improve our society?  As I came to learn and realize while visiting Randolph High School in late October of this year, the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!”

One of the teachers in the school’s English Department, Ms. Tess Ferree, had invited me to speak to her sophomore and junior students as part of a project they were working on where each wrote a letter to the Mayor, sharing their thoughts on both what makes Randolph great and how it can be even better.  Rather than simply reply via my own letter, the idea developed where I would respond in person, appear before the two classes, discuss the viability of their various ideas and speak about how government functions within the Council-Manager guidelines we follow.

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Let me start by saying that the letters I received were clearly not drafted overnight.  Many of the students backed up their viewpoints with statistics, while others provided detailed examples on how their proposals could be brought online.  Some employed a “big picture” approach, while others got into the weeds and outlined logistical issues.  But what impressed me even more than the effort they put into their letters, was the interaction I had with them in the classroom.  Very quickly, their initial shyness and uncertainty gave way to powerful questions.  Most importantly, we talked quite a bit about the importance of not just verbalizing their suggestions, but also following through on them.  In other words, the need for them to involve themselves in their particular segments of our community and see their ideas to fruition.

I came away from roughly two hours with these future leaders of tomorrow, confident in the notion that they are not interested in merely being bystanders.  They plan on being difference-makers.  One of the sophomores took a moment at the end of class to tell me about the college plans he had and how comfortable he was in being ready to tackle them with a Randolph High School diploma in hand.  If that’s not confidence in one’s future, then I don’t know what is.  Rest easy, fellow adult members of our community … we’re definitely on the right path.