Mayor gives inspiring state of township address

Photo Courtesy of West Orange Public Information Officer Joseph Fagan
Mayor Susan McCartney and West Orange High School Principal Oscar Guerrero pose with high school seniors at the Chamber of Commerce meeting where McCartney talked about the state of the township.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Mayor Susan McCartney made her State of the Township Address at the West Orange Chamber of Commerce annual Community Breakfast on Wednesday, April 26.

The community breakfast served as an opportunity for local business owners to network and build relationships with each other, to collaborate on future events and support each other.

McCarthy opened her speech discussing the relationship that West Orange has created amongst business owners and the community.

“I am honored to stand among the many individuals, employees, volunteers and business owners here this morning representing their own commitment and investment in our community,” McCartney said during her address. “The collective efforts of our local businesses create jobs and sustain each other. The township’s ‘shop local campaign’ promoted by the chamber and the Downtown West Orange Alliance has laid the groundwork for a strong economic future.”

McCartney also spoke on the response from the township to the pandemic and the collaboration made that allowed departments to continue operating, both for residents and businesses.

“I witnessed support, collaboration and commitment from each township department when we were thrust into an unexpected, unforeseen pandemic,” McCartney said. “Facing this unprecedented circumstance, each department pivoted to provide uninterrupted services, matched with tremendous community support, including many business owners here today.”

McCartney then recognized the West Orange Police Department and initiatives they have taken that have garnered them acclaim throughout the state.

“The West Orange Police Department was recognized by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and Division of Consumer Affairs for a series of firsts,” McCartney said. “The Department was the first in New Jersey to implement a 24-hour, seven days a week domestic violence response team. The first to provide 24/7 access to rehabilitation for substance dependency with the township’s ‘Operation HOPE’ program. The word hope is an acronym for heroin, opiate prevention effort, but I believe that it means the willingness for an individual to seek intervention.”

McCartney then highlighted the efforts of the township’s finance department, making sure to highlight the demographic and makeup of the department.
“The township’s finance department is comprised of women,” McCartney said. “Under the leadership of John Gross, who assumed the role of business administrator, as well as chief financial officer, the township maintains a double bond rating. Additionally, with three consecutive years of audits, our financial records and overall finances are strong and in order.”
McCartney then spoke on the various agreements that the township’s legal department have successfully negotiated.

“For the past 25 years our legal department, under the leadership of Richard Trank, has successfully navigated the negotiations for the township’s major land use applications,” McCartney said.
“Including Liberty Middle School, the Oscar Schindler Performing Arts Center, the Edison Lofts, the Harvard Pressed Redevelopment and Remediation Zone, the new Library and Dog Park, the groundbreaking affordable senior housing units, the adoption of the township’s fair share housing plan, the preservation of the 18 hole, 136-acre Rock Spring Golf Club and the prospective Movie Studio Sound Stage agreement.”

McCartney then urged residents and volunteers to contribute their efforts towards the various service organizations that are available in West Orange.

“The backbone of West Orange has always been the willingness of township volunteers to not just hope for change, but to step up and make a difference,” McCartney said. “I urge all who volunteer and all who can volunteer to channel their positive energy and interests on 18 of our different organizations and commissions that reflect our community. The members of our service organizations are shining examples of committed involvement in making a difference for individuals in our community.”

McCartney spoke on the recently created “Mayor’s Wellness Program” and its success since being launched.

“I recently launched the mayor’s wellness program, a statewide community health initiative,” McCartney said. “Our objective is to initiate programs promoting informative sessions and healthy lifestyles for all who would like to participate. Our monthly meetings have already yielded positive results presented at nearly every town council meeting.”

Lastly, McCartney highlighted the West Orange high school seniors and the efforts that they have been part of to improve their community.

“I would like to recognize the next generation of West Orange students, who are preparing to make the most of every opportunity their future holds,” McCartney said. “West Orange students are as bright as they are diverse in their critical thinking, sportsmanship and creative expression.”
The seniors in attendance then announced where they will be going to college to close out the address.