BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Bloomfield Township Council reorganized at the Municipal Building on Wednesday, Jan. 3, swearing into office its three ward council members.
Nicholas Joanow, the senior council member with the most time served; Jenny Mundell, an incumbent appointed to a chair vacated earlier this year; and Sarah Cruz, a political novice, each expressed personal gratitudes after taking their oaths. The council chamber was filled to near-capacity.
The formalities began with a police color guard marching to the front of the room and the singing of the national anthem by Gemma Eschelman. She delivered the lyrics acapella in a clear, sweet tone. The Rev. Vernon Miller’s invocation followed. Miller, who heads the New Light Baptist Church, asked God “to give the newly elected strength and wisdom to lead.”
Mayor Michael Venezia then introduced the dignitaries that included state Sen. Ron Rice, D-28th District; Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr.; Essex County Democratic Party Chairman LeRoy Jones; Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-28th District; Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, D-28th District; and Essex County Freeholders Patricia Sebold and Carlos Pomares, who resigned his at-large Bloomfield Council seat to become the District 5 freeholder. His successor has not been named. Sebold is an at-large freeholder.
Swearing-in Mundell and Cruz was the mayor. Joanow took his oath from Rice.
Next were remarks by the dignitaries. DiVincenzo said that “the strength of the county is seen in this council — diversity.”
Caputo said there was a renaissance in Bloomfield with a young mayor who had good ideas. He continued the diversity theme by saying it was “great to see the transition unfolding into a beautiful picture.”
Rice reiterated a common theme of his that it was OK for policy makers to disagree but solutions required compromise.
The newly elected council members then spoke.
Mundell thanked her family — her husband and son — for their patience. She said when her son cannot get her attention he calls her “councilwoman.”
She thanked her council colleagues, the Bloomfield Democratic Party and Essex County “family” for their support.
“It means the world to me that you believe in me,” she said.
Mundell encouraged her audience to become involved with their own communities.
Joanow thanked 2nd Ward voters and Jones for his leadership. He begins his fourth consecutive term. Serving his constituents, he said, was an honor and a privilege. He acknowledged the present council as the most collegial since he became a councilman. He then commented on most township departments.
Joanow said taxes have been stabilized because of the township administrator, Matthew Watkins, and that there is reduced crime and higher morale in the police department because of the public safety director, Sam DeMaio. Referencing a parcel of land recently purchased by the township, Joanow said that the engineering department will have another site for a water supply. He acknowledged the Department of Public Works and Parks for providing appreciated services; the recreation department for its many contributions; the municipal clerk’s office and the volunteers on township commissions. He offered a special thanks to Pomares, calling him a friend.
Those he acknowledged, he said, shared a common theme: to serve the public.
In finishing, Joanow thanked his wife, Marlene, “for her tolerance for my many endeavors.”
Cruz said it was an honor to see the council chamber filled.
“Have you looked around?” she said.
She quickly thanked a litany of county officials. When she finished, she looked at the front row where many of them sat and asked, “How did I do?”
“I’m really psyched to work here with two other councilwomen,” she said.
Cruz said it mattered to her that the council members got along and a year ago she didn’t even see herself as a part of them.
“But then I looked at my children,” she said. She thanked her children for their patience and for keeping her young.
“I’m not 100 percent sure what I am going to do, but I am 110 percent sure that I am committed,” she said in closing.
The benediction was given by the Rev. Joel Hubbard, of the Park United Methodist Church. He said that leadership was desperately needed in these times.
“A benediction is a time of blessing,” he said. “There is a need to have a government of, by and for the people.”
He then prayed.
“Lord, make me an instrument of peace,” he said. “Sisters, brothers, may you be blessed and bring to the people all they deserve. May we be a community where the standard is justice.”
The reorganization meeting was then completed. The remaining council members are Wartyna Davis and Ted Gamble.