HOWELL – Councilman Robert Walsh was the only incumbent who ran in this year’s general election for Howell Township Council. However he is not the only incumbent whose term is up. Both Deputy Mayor Robert Nicastro and Councilwoman Pauline Smith will be stepping down from the dais at the end of this year.
After eight years in local politics, Nicastro is willingly stepping down to embark on the next stage of life with his family.
“Eight years ago when I first became involved in local politics, my youngest child (of three) was eleven years old. We knew serving two terms (8 years), my family would be making decisions that may not include another term,” he said.
Nicastro’s decision against seeking re-election was a tough one, he said.
“Becoming an “’empty nester’ with my youngest son off to college, we decided it was the right time to downsize and take some time to embark and embrace the next chapter of my life,” he added.
Although he laments stepping down from the dais, Nicastro is proud of many things that have been accomplished during his time on the council. Progress such as: implementing shared services to provide more cost effective and efficient services to taxpayers; preserving open space and farmland “maintaining our rural characteristics we all enjoy and love about Howell;” making much needed infrastructure improvements; and improving parks and sports fields, to name just a few.
Serving the people of Howell as well as working alongside various volunteers, administrators, and the local police department, was one of the many highlights of his career.
Nicastro has hope for the future of Howell, stating: “I hope (future council members) will be able to build on the success we had and learn like I did from many who have served in the past.”
Although we won’t be seeing Nicastro on the dais much longer, he plans to stay active in local politics and community service in the township, noting that one of his many joys in life is his “deep passion to serve.”
Councilwoman Smith is also stepping down for personal reasons.
Some residents might have noticed her absence at recent council meetings. Having spent much of her time in the hospital and rehabilitation since August, she has decided her time on the council is up and it is now time for her to take care of herself and her husband.
“For a change, we have to put us before the people of Howell,” Smith told Jersey Shore Online via phone from her rehab center.
Smith has spent the last 25 years serving Howell in some way, whether it was on the council, the planning board, or both simultaneously. Before that, she spent most of her time organizing people in Howell to fight against certain development in the town where she has spent her entire adult life.
A 54-year resident of the township, Smith has a strong passion for Howell and hopes that her replacement on the council will too. She hopes they remember to “represent the people, not the politics…that’s what the council is supposed to do,” she said.
In her 25 years in public office, Smith took an active interest in her town and the inner workings of the township, even taking college courses at her own expense to learn more about how a town should be run, reflecting that “nobody really does that.”
One thing that Smith stresses for the new council members: don’t forget the rural population.
“The rural people get forgotten about,” she said, underlining that it is the job of both parties to represent the people. Smith believes that there are too many political agendas in the way.
She leaves the residents of Howell with the following: “I want to see change for the good.”