MAPLEWOOD, NJ — At its Sept. 6 meeting, the Maplewood Township Committee appointed former Committeeman Ian Grodman to fill the seat recently vacated by Marlon K. Brownlee.
The committee voted 4-0 in favor of Committeeman Greg Lembrich’s motion to have Grodman serve out the rest of Brownlee’s term, which ends Dec. 31. The committee made its selection after interviewing Grodman and fellow candidates Amy Jo Curran and Garnet Hall during a closed session before the meeting. Grodman, Curran and Hall, who were nominated by the Maplewood Democratic Committee from a larger pool of applicants, were also given the chance to speak publicly before the vote, and each also submitted resumes and letters to the Township Committee stating why they were interested in the position.
Grodman is no stranger to local government, having served on the Township Committee from 2003 through 2005. Until this appointment, he was also the chairman of the Maplewood Democratic Committee. But though he may be used to serving in leadership positions, the newly minted committeeman said he is nonetheless happy to have been chosen as Brownlee’s replacement.
“It’s very exciting,” Grodman told the News-Record in a Sept. 8 phone interview. “I always thought it would be great to have the opportunity to do it again, but it was difficult to commit to a three-year term. So I’m very excited to have the opportunity to spend four months working on the Township Committee and trying to help make the town a better place.”
Though he acknowledged that he likely will not have the chance to approve any large-scale projects, Grodman does have a few ideas for initiatives he would like to get passed during his relatively short time in office. One of his goals is to start moving forward a nascent committee to which he belongs that is dedicated to creating public art projects on Springfield Avenue. He also would like to launch a senior advisory committee, which he said could be a good way to address senior citizen needs within the community.
Having experience on the committee will be an asset in trying to get things accomplished, Grodman believes. While he does need to catch up on many of the issues currently before the township, the new committeeman said the procedural and historical knowledge he possesses will ensure that he will not have to spend any additional time figuring out how local government works. As a result, he said he will not have to deal with a learning curve.
“I really sort of can hit the ground running,” Grodman said.
Mayor Vic DeLuca agreed that Grodman’s experience will come in handy moving forward, pointing out that a novice replacement might have taken the whole four months to learn how things work. In fact, DeLuca said Grodman’s time served on the committee was what set him apart from Curran and Hall, whom he described as otherwise “terrific” candidates. He said the committee also liked that Grodman, much like Curran and Hall, had no plans to run for office any time soon. That was important because the committee members did not want to give anyone a leg up in future elections, he said.
And after serving together in the past, DeLuca is confident Grodman will be an admirable committeeman.
“He’s a guy who listens to all sides,” DeLuca told the News-Record in a Sept. 9 phone interview. “He’s someone who will make informed judgments. He will decide on what he thinks is the best course of action and he will pursue it. He’s somebody who will work with you. He looks to build consensus.”
Grodman, likewise, has a lot of respect for his colleagues, whom he has gotten to know well through working in Maplewood Democratic politics. He said he is eager to serve with them now on the committee.
“I’m very much looking forward to working with all of them,” Grodman said. “I think that it is an immensely talented group of people that we have serving on our Township Committee. They all bring very different strengths to the committee. And along with working with all of them, I look forward to learning from all of them as well.”
Meanwhile, Hall is taking Grodman’s vacated seat as chairman of the Democratic Committee. But the position is only temporary — the Democratic Committee unanimously agreed to allow Grodman to resume his chairman duties once he finishes Brownlee’s term.
The Democratic Committee was responsible for selecting Grodman, Curran and Hall as potential replacements after its members voted on the five people who put their names into consideration during its Aug. 17 meeting. The three who went before the Township Committee received the highest number of votes. Kurt Kiley and Craig Goldstein were the other two candidates.