RAHWAY, NJ – Westfield council members Linda Habgood, Doug Stokes and David Contract appeared on behalf of Mayor Shelley Brindle at the 29th Annual Gateway Chamber of Commerce Mayor's Dinner at the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel on Thursday evening.
The dinner included networking and speeches from mayors and administrators in Union County, who spoke about their respective municipalities and their accomplishments in the last year.
All three representatives from Westfield spoke about Westfield’s accomplishments this year, mentioning the November election that flipped the council from majority republican to majority democratic, the election of Mayor Shelley Brindle, Westfield’s first female mayor, and opportunities for residents to get involved in government.
“It takes three of us to fill the shoes of our new mayor, Shelley Brindle,” Habgood said. “Shelley, who is a recently retired executive of HBO, has decided to be our full-time mayor, so she keeps all of us very, very busy trying to take Westfield by storm.”
Stokes mentioned changes to Westfield’s infrastructure.
“Even though we are in this structure, we are getting a lot done and political party has been put aside,” he said. “We are working for the constituents for Westfield and we are getting our taxes renewed, so we have half of a percent tax rate going into effect this year. That is a reduction. We are paving more roads, we are improving our parks, our public safety and our downtown is still a desirable destination that many businesses want to go to. We have an abundance of talent among our residents and many never had the opportunity to get involved. We are bringing numerous opportunities for citizen engagement and we continue to push Westfield as a destination for volunteers, businesses and people like us, that choose to serve on our town council for one dollar a year.”
Contract mentioned the achievements of Westfield’s youth, citing the teen engagement at Wednesday night’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and mentioning the town council’s high school internship program, which currently has 48 students enrolled.
“All three of us say ‘we listen 24/7,'’’ Contract said. “If you listen to your citizens and you work together, you can make things happen.”
Following dinner and speeches, several mayors were awarded in different categories. Linden Mayor Derek Armstead received “Mayor of the Year.” Mountainside’s chief financial officer, Jill Goode, received “Business Administrator of the Year” and Hillside Mayor Dahlia Vertreese received “Best Speaker of the Night.”