BELLEVILLE, NJ — Michael Melham promised to continue forward momentum in town as he was sworn in for his second term as Belleville’s mayor. State Sen. Richard Codey, the former governor of New Jersey, administered the oath of office during the township’s reorganization meeting on Friday, July 1.
“I do not see the need to change course, for finally Belleville is no longer the butt of jokes, but rather we are the topic of conversation,” Melham said.
Melham’s running mates in the May election, council members Naomy De Peña and Thomas Graziano, were also each sworn in for another four-year term.
Graziano was sworn in by his uncle, Marine Corps retired Lt. Col. Frank LaMura. He was also selected to serve as the town’s deputy mayor by a unanimous vote of the council.
De Peña, who just wrapped up her term as the first Latina to serve as deputy mayor, took her oath in Spanish as it was administered by her father, the Rev. Luis Fernandez.
“This is meaningful to me because it’s my heritage,” she said. “It’s a beautiful language, but what unites us is that, regardless of the language in which it was expressed, my commitment is to everyone, to serve with the same love …” The room filled with applause before DePeña could finish her sentence.
Melham said it was an “absolute honor” to have Codey take part in the ceremony and said he stands ready to work with his council colleagues to build an even better Belleville.
“Now is the time to stop the politics of division and abide by the will of the people, the very constituency that overwhelmingly decided to put the Melham team back in office for a second term,” he said.
Codey, who also administered the oath to Steven J. Martino, who was reappointed as the attorney for the township, also discussed the importance of cohesion and putting aside differences.
“We’re all in this together, whether it’s Trenton or Belleville,” he said, adding that party affiliations do not matter. “This is about Belleville, not about some party. We’ll get to the party later because he won.”
Photos Courtesy of Belleville Township