Government

Public Outbursts Overshadow Westfield Town Council Meeting Over Gun Control, HAWK Light Issues

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The American Planning Association recognized Downtown Westfield as one of its “Great Places in New Jersey.” Here, Jessica Giorgianni presents the award to Mayor Andy Skibitsky. Center; Stephanie Walsh. Credits: Alexandria Addesso
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Mayor Skibitsky, Stephanie Walsh and Jessica Giorgianni. Credits: Alexandria Addesso
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From left to right: James Foerst, Dave Haas, Jo Ann Neylan Credits: Alexandria Addesso
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Frank Arena(left) and Mayor Skibitsky (right) Credits: Alexandria Addesso
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Credits: Alexandria Addesso
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WESTFIELD, NJ -- The recurring back-and-forth between residents against the HAWK light and the town council and their supporters had a political twist at the Oct. 22 meeting, which Mayor Skibitsky attributed to this being the last public meeting before the election on Nov. 5.

Those who opposed the light expressed nothing but negativity towards the mayor (although they all admitted to voting for him in the last election) and most of the council except for Dave Haas, whom they had all stated was their only ally and who is now running against Skibitsky.

“He [Haas] has the courage to speak his mind,” said resident Maria Carluccio, “and not be a little puppet.”

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Two residents who found the HAWK light to be no safety risk praised the mayor and the council. Resident Tony Del Duca spoke passionately against those citizens who demanded action be taken about the light and stated that he had to be escorted to his car by an officer after speaking his mind at the last council meeting he attended.

Responses from the audience to council comments, which is not an allotted practice at council meetings, went on for the remainder of the meeting, as well as applause.

“This isn’t the Jerry Springer Show,” said councilman Sam Della Fera in response to the clapping.

Resident Karen Egert’s troubles with Skibitsky went beyond the HAWK light or the purchase of the mobile command center, which was also brought up. Egert is a member of the organization New Jersey Residents Against Gun Violence and was upset that the mayor would not join the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group, nor was he advocating to make background checks to purchase guns a must.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsDQpRhuWZA&feature=youtu.be

Skibitsky countered by reading a letter submitted by Egert to the Westfield Leader in which she applauded his anti-gun efforts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf9KygI8YIE

At one point Councilman James Foerst suggested adjourning the meeting early due to commotion from the crowd, but the rest of meeting's business was conculded.

The arguments during the meeting overshadowed its upbeat beginning, during which the American Planning Association recognized Downtown Westfield as one of its “Great Places in New Jersey.”

“These are the places people want to be in,” said Jessica Giorgianni of the APA. “You know it when you’re there.”

At the end of the meeting, Councilman Foerst reminded the public that some voting places have been changed.

“Please check your ballot to make sure your voting place has not changed,” said Foerst.

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