SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The Borough of South Plainfield held its 2017 reorganization meeting on Jan. 2 and the annual event attracted a standing room only crowd.
Lynda Farinella sang the National Anthem and Pastor Edmund Seponosky delivered the innovation followed by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. of South Plainfield administering the oath of office to newly-elected Democratic Councilmen Jon Dean and Gary Vesce before a large gathering of family, friends and supporters.
“Today, we welcome Councilmen Dean and Vesce to the governing body…I look forward to working with you and the entire council to move South Plainfield’s interests forward."
Mayor Matt Anesh, adding, “The opportunity to represent your fellow residents is a great honor that comes with great responsibility…Let the best interests of the community be your guiding principal, and you will serve our residents well.”
As members of the council, Dean will chair the environment/health and welfare committee and Vesce will serve as chair of the DPW committee. Additionally, Dean will serve as a member of both the DPW and economic development subcommittees while Vesce will be a member of the both the environment/health and welfare and recreations/office of aging subcommittees.
“I want to say thank you again to all our residents, Democratic supporters and party leaders …” Dean told TAPinto South Plainfield following Monday’s swearing in ceremony. “I am extremely excited to work for the residents for what is best for our great borough. I look forward to working with our mayor and council and the committees I have been chosen for.”
“The council has welcomed us in and I truly am honored to be part of the process that is going to help govern the town,” Vesce said. “We want to do the best for all the residents and the council has already welcomed us in. I am looking forward to doing some really good things for South Plainfield.”
Vesce added, “I want to thank all the residents, the Democratic organization and, especially, my family for supporting me.”
During Monday’s meeting, Derryck White was named council president of the South Plainfield Borough Council by a 6-0 vote and sworn in by New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. Guadagno was also on hand to administer the oath to the dozens of community residents named to various borough committees and commissions for 2017.
Additionally, mayoral appointments were also made, resolutions were passed, and numerous professional service contracts were approved, including the appointment of South Plainfield resident Manuel Sanchez, Esq. as municipal court judge.
The reorganization meeting also provided the borough the opportunity to recognize former Republican Councilman Alex Barletta and outgoing Republican Councilmen Robert 'Bobby' Richkus and Ray Rusnak.
Barletta, who was first elected in 2011, served on the council for almost six years, stepping down last September due to relocating out of the borough. “The percentage of the American public elected to office is so very small and I consider it an honor and a privilege, not only to have been a councilman in my life, but to have been one in the town of South Plainfield,” said Barletta.
Richkus, a lifelong resident of the borough who did not seek re-election to a second consecutive term, said, “It was a very fast three years [and] a fun run. I met a lot of people…and welcomed this opportunity. I wish those gentlemen coming up here all the best [and] wish the best to all those people joining committees for the first time..."
A member of the council since 2007, Rusnak was unsuccessful in his bid for re-election to a fourth consecutive term. He will go on to serve as a member of the South Plainfield Public Library Board.
“It has been a pleasure and an honor serving the community and going forward I wish everybody the best,” said Rusnak.
The 2017 reorganization meeting also provided Mayor Anesh the opportunity to deliver his annual State of the Borough Address. Anesh highlighted the borough’s 2016 accomplishments, which included the reaffirmation of the borough’s bond rating and adopting a budget that held municipal taxes at the same rate as 2009, resulting in South Plainfield having the third lowest tax rate in all of Middlesex County.
Anesh stated that, in 2016, the recreation department’s travel basketball and summer parks programs, along with senior center programs, all saw growth; the PAL gym renovation was completed; Willow Park was developed; and the Mayor’s Wellness Committee offered numerous educational programs. In 2016, said the mayor, South Plainfield also celebrated the official grand opening of the new South Plainfield Public Library along with the addition of several new local businesses, including, but not limited to, Shop Rite, Little Nicky’s, Sprint, All Season Sports Academy, and Lobster Pub.
“I am proud of our accomplishments and remain excited about our future,” said Anesh. “South Plainfield continues to be a model for how government can work effectively and efficiently. We are a desired destination for families, individuals and businesses alike.”
In 2017, said Anesh, the Mayor’s Wellness Committee will offer additional education programs; state and federal fund will be sought for the Hollywood Avenue project; and the borough’s building department will be looking into computer upgrades to maximize efficiency to improve resident and business experience as well as offer expanded hours. The borough, he said, will also continue to focus on the retention and expansion of businesses and will welcome Raymour and Flanagan and Ocean State Job Lot to Middlesex Mall and an extended stay hotel on Hamilton Boulevard.
“For 2017, our goal is to remain focused on delivering essential residential services while ensuring that South Plainfield remains one of the most affordable communities in the state,” said Anesh. “Our challenge remains to introduce a municipal budget that funds the critical areas of investment needed to move our borough forward while maintaining a keen focus on property taxes.”
The mayor continued, “To ensure that our future remains bright we cannot take our success for granted or believe that tomorrow come without challenges or required sacrifices but we have the ingredients for success – an active and giving community, talented employees, dedicated volunteers, and responsive officials …”
The next meeting of the South Plainfield Borough Council will be held on Monday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at the municipal building, 2480 Plainfield Avenue. The public is welcome to attend.
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