SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Mayor Mary DePaola was officially sworn in at her first full Council meeting on Tuesday evening, June 19 by past Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco.
“I am very humbled by the trust that has been placed in me. I promise to work very hard and to strive for excellence. We need to work on our goal setting and working towards a consensus not only on the council but with the community at large,” said Mayor DePaola.
“We need to assess what we need and what we want – bench marks are needed to reach those end goals. We need to find the right talented people to work on any project that we do We need to fill the vacancy on the counsel and set out to find our new Town Manger and continue to work with Fanwood to investigate a Police Merger, “ said Mayor DePaola. “We cannot lose sight of the fact that we are here to carry out your wishes..I thank you very much for your trust and your support.”
Mayor DePaola’s first official act was to nominate Bo Vastine as Deputy Mayor, which was seconded by Councilman Mickey Marcus and voted on unanimously by the rest of the council.
It was then time to deal with the council vacancy left by Mayor DePaola. The Republican Committee had put forward three names for this vacancy. Councilman Marcus addressed this issue by saying that not enough information had been provided for these three individuals, and while he had chatted briefly with Mr. Saridaki, the nominee favored by the Republican Committee, “I do not have enough information and I do not feel that I have the ability to pass judgment. While my wish is not to interfere with the process, I feel I must abstain from voting.”
Councilman Vastain then spoke in defense of Edward Saridaki, stating that his support for this nominee was based on the fact that he had served on the Board of Education for nine years and was a long time Scotch Plains resident. “He understands the issues that we face in this climate and he understands the work that needs to be done and has an even temperament to work well to get things done. That is why I support his appointment.”
Democratic Councilman Kevin Glover agreed with Councilman Marcus, in that he did not know much about the backgrounds of any of the nominees. “We are confronted with some very serious issues and it would be good to know what the background of these folks are – we have been given nothing. Ed Saradaki may be a wonderful person, but I know nothing about him personally. I have to vote nay.”
Mayor DePaola voted for Mr. Saridaki, however, with a two for, one against and one abstention, the concept of who will fill the vacancy will have to return to the Republican Committee.
When it came time for public comment, current Republican Committee Chairman Martin Marks gave a historical perspective on the selection process for the Council by pointing out previous filling of vacancies on the Democratic side where the Republicans went out of their way to confirm the Democratic nominee. “ What happened here tonight was truly unfortunate, anyone who paid any attention to what happens in the this town would know of Ed Sardaki and I am sorry that he was subjected to such a petty display of politics,” concluded Mr. Marks.
After this stinging rebuttal, Councilman Marcus called for a five minute recess to reconsider the previous vote. Once the Council reconvened, Councilman Glover requested a chance to address the points brought up by Mr. Marks, and pointed out that there had been enough of political rhetoric and it was time to bring everyone together and be respectful. “I seconded the appointment of Mayor DePaola as Deputy Mayor, even though it was across political lines. I hope that our new Mayor will embrace the same spirit of our previous Mayor who always looked for ways to bring us together and not to be lead by people whose only intent is to create decent. We need to move on and bury this nonsense once and for all. We are here to serve the public.”
Less contentious items on the evening’s agenda included:
- Approval of acting Town Manager Bob Lacosta’s report
- Water conservation watch has not been lifted
- First Annual Concert for Fallen Heroes was a huge success on Memorial Day Eve
- Farmer’s Market is in full swing every Saturday from 8 am until 2 pm
- The Recreation Department’s STARS will be giving performances this weekend of Beauty and the Beast, at 3 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- Congratulations were tended for all 2012 SPF High School graduates.