Westfield Town Council Passes Resolution Against Gun Violence at Meeting

Mayor Andy Skibitsky reads a resolution against gun violence. Credits: Jackie Lieberman

WESTFIELD, NJ—Mayor Andy Skibitsky’s decisions to ask the council to pass his resolution against gun violence at this evening’s town council regular meeting and not to sign the Mayors Against Illegal Guns petition (as  New Jersey Residents for Action had asked him to do at last week’s town council meeting) met with controversy today.

All members of the council voted in favor of the resolution (heard in the video above) except Councilman David Haas, who abstained, saying that there was nothing in it about encouraging legislators to act to require criminal background checks or to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as Mayors Against Illegal Gun’s petition does.

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“I would feel much better about the resolution if it included these things,” said Haas.

At a meeting held minutes before the town council regular meeting, when Mayor Skibitsky presented the resolution to the council for the first time, Skibitsky noted that since last week’s meeting (when he was not present) he had received “less than polite” voicemails both at home and at his office.

At that meeting, Councilman David Haas questioned why the council had not been given more time to review the resolution. “I just think that’s an inappropriate way to do it,” said Haas.

Haas also questioned why the mayor did not join Mayors Against Illegal Guns, to which Skibitsky answered that he is asked to sign statements all of the time regarding issues over which he has no control and that he does not sign these. In this case, he noted, the gun laws can only be changed by state and federal lawmakers.

Also at that earlier meeting, Councilman James Foerst questioned if residents had the right to speak during town council meetings about the subject when the council has no control over those laws.

Just after the resolution passed, Karen Egert of New Jersey Residents for Action told the council, “I want to sincerely thank Mayor Skibitsky for supporting this issue.”

She later told TAP, “I really wish Leonard Lance would follow suit.”

But resident David Glasker told the council that the resolution lacked teeth. “That’s unfortunate,” said Glasker. “I thought the council might have more courage … to take a stance against it.”

Lori Bennett thanked the mayor, adding, “We were looking for you to come on board, though, with Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” She said she understood that both Skibitsky and Congressman Leonard Lance are Republicans, but that she had hoped Skibitsky would sign the petition anyway.

Later, Diane Beeny of the Union County Peace Council spoke to the council against “Not just mass shootings but shootings that happen every single day.”

“I don’t see why people should have military-style weapons in our community,” said Beeny. And, she said, “Cough syrup is more regulated than guns in this country. This is crazy.”

“None of these proposals are aimed at removing anyone’s second amendment rights,” added Haas.

Also during the time for public comments, Resident Greg Kasko once again argued that he believed crossing guards should not be allowed to direct traffic.

And Adina Enculescu once again came before the town council to argue against the HAWK light and crosswalk on Central Avenue just in front of her home, saying that when you push the button and the light turns red, three or even four cars go through it.

“Please do something with this light before anything wrong happens. I’ll be back in two weeks,” said Enculescu.

The council also passed a resolution endorsing an amendment to the 2009 Housing Element and Fair Share Plan, which amends the zoning board’s master plan to include Sunnyside Senior Housing’s property.

During a council conference meeting held earlier that evening, Councilwoman Jo Ann Neylan thanked Police Chief David Wayman and Fire Chief Daniel Kelly for working together with the rescue squad to bring an equipment show to the Westfield Amory Feb. 14 from 10 am. To 4 p.m.  Active public safety officials from around the state are expected to attend to learn about equipment such as trucks that provide power generation when disasters such as Superstorm Sandy strike.

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