ROXBURY, NJ - Roxbury Councilman Gary Behrens resigned from the township council this week and is now living in Florida, it was announced Tuesday.
Now, local Republicans are hoping to find a temporary replacement for the 79-year-old representative of Ward 2.
“I decided I wanted to be where it’s warm,” said Behrens, reached at his Florida home on Tuesday night. He said he will look back fondly at his tenure on the council, having first been elected in 2008.
Behrens, who owned Gas Drying Corp. in Roxbury, was re-elected in 2011 and in 2015. He lived in Roxbury for 18 years and served on a number of local government panels including the township Economic Development Committee and the Morris County Freight Railroad Advisory Committee.
He said being a councilman “was the best thing going,” because he enjoyed trying to help people. “I liked what I did,” said Behrens. “I liked helping people … I really liked going to the senior (citizen) meetings.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Roxbury Mayor Mark Crowley said Behrens has been “a good friend, a dedicated councilman and a tireless advocate for the residents of the 2nd Ward.” The ward includes all of Lower Berkshire Valley, Kenvil and a slice of Succasunna, making it the largest Roxbury ward in terms of acreage.
“We will miss his commitment to fiscal responsibility, his experience as a business owner as well as his willingness to work constructively with the members of the township council and staff,” Crowley said.
Roxbury Republican Committee Chairman Jim Rilee, who is also a member of the township council, said the committee is now accepting “inquiries to replace Gary from active, registered Republicans” who live in Ward 2.
Three candidates will be presented June 27 to the Roxbury Mayor and Council, Rilee said. The council then has 30 days to choose a temporary replacement for Behrens. That person will serve until the end of the year, but he or she must win in the November general election to remain on the council in 2017, Rilee said.
“The ideal candidate will share Gary’s commitment to public service and dedication to the community,” Rilee said in a statement. Behrens acknowledged that, while he loved doing it, being a councilman takes up a “tremendous amount of time.”
People interested in the position can contact Rilee at (973) 584-2532.