Wednesday’s 275th reorganization meeting in Morristown held a few surprises as a re-elected mayor and council along with a reappointed administration team make for a 2014 roster for the governing body that looks strikingly similar to the squad that ended 2013.
The change for 2014 came at the top.
The state’s loss appears to be Morristown’s gain as former assembly candidate Rebecca Feldman, an independent, was unanimously appointed as council president for 2014 and councilman Stefan Armington was similarly approved for the position of vice-president.
“I am excited, as an Independent, for the opportunity to work with everybody,” Feldman said.
Feldman said she was particularly looking forward to the new master plan and complimentary zoning ordinance coming this year. Toshiba Foster, Michael Elms and Michelle Dupree-Harris all took their oaths of office and the newly reconfigured governing body took swift action and Michael Rogers was re-upped as business administrator and Vijayant Pawar as director of law and municipal attorney for 2014.Mayor Tim Dougherty, sworn in for his second term after opening remarks (and jokes) by Assumption Church Pastor John E. Hart, said that he saw 2014 as a year that was going to be a good one for Morristown.
The mayor said that continued smarty growth was the key for Morristown and over the last two and a half years over 200 businesses have opened up downtown.
"Many businesses are choosing Morristown for their second locations," Dougherty said, naming a few like the Cake Boss, Godfather and Cioffi's Salad House. "People who have been asking for variety in our retail will soon have it."
Dougherty said that the town was poised to introduce a budget for 2014 that will keep a high level of service to the residents without increasing the municipal tax burden.
Citing the Speedwell redevelopment project Latitude as well as the new master plan, Dougherty said that 2014 will move forward while preserving the town's historic charm and ensure strong residential neighborhoods.
When speaking of the work done on the various events that happen throughout the year in town, Dougherty said that it is an effort of many that allows them to take place.
"Morristown is lauded throughout the state because of the commitment and efforts of the administration, council, town employees and town residents," Dougherty said.
Dougherty said that the administration will continue to pursue shared services while building upon the deep civic engagement that has become their calling card.
The plan, essentially, is not to let off the gas.
Indeed after his November election win the mayor was back in the saddle for meetings at 8 a.m. the next morning and has a full slate scheduled for Thursday as, among other things, he (weather permitting) plans on cutting the ribbon on the new Clove restaurant opening on Speedwell Avenue.
“People think that you get a break, but you don’t,” Dougherty said. “You continue to govern and do what is right for the community over the next four years.”
Dougherty, who always ends his speeches with a quote, chose to conclude his 2014 address with one from President John F. Kennedy.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."