JACKSON – A new year, new leadership, a new council member and some new council committee assignments were all part of the governing body’s reorganization meeting.
The session featured the swearing in of the newest council member, Martin Flemming, a member of the Jackson Republican Club and a current member of the Planning Board who will fill the one-year unexpired term of Robert Nixon who resigned late last year.
Barry Calogero, who served as vice council president, stepped up to lead the council following Nixon’s resignation. He will remain as council president in 2020.
“It is not often that we have a situation to have to appoint a councilman mid-term,” Calogero said. “We published the need to fill the vacancy in the papers and we had 15 applications.”
Calogero said in an interview with The Jackson Times that each council member had input in the selection and that he had asked each councilman to discuss the most qualified applicant.
Councilman Andrew Kern had narrowed it to nine applicants while Councilman Alex Sauickie III had narrowed it to four or five according to Calogero who added that he also narrowed down the choices to four or five.
Councilman Kenneth Bressi “agreed to the final choice and seconded the nomination and we voted unanimously for Mr. Flemming who has been very active on the planning board for several years. He is active with the fire company and also was a volunteer for the EMS. He is a lifelong resident of Jackson, a businessman and has a family with five children,” Calogero said.
Calogero said during the meeting, “to our newest council member, Councilman Marty Flemming thank you for stepping forward and taking on this very important position, the residents of Jackson expect and deserve 100 percent, I am sure you will not let them down.”
Flemming was appointed as the Township Council’s designee on the Planning Board for 2020. He replaces Bressi who served as the council’s designee last year. Calogero said the change made sense in that Flemming has experience on the board and the council wanted to make some council assignment changes in the new year.
“I would also like to thank Mayor Michael Reina, Business Administrator Terrence Wall and Township Clerk Janice Kisty and the entire Jackson staff for working so hard to make Jackson a great place to live,” Calogero said.
Another item of Council housekeeping was to choose a new vice council president and that went to Sauickie. Both Sauickie and Calogero thanked their colleagues for their support noting that Nixon had also been highly supported during his time as vice council president in 2018 and as council president in 2019.
During the 2018 general election Reina was re-elected with a large margin of votes and ran with Andy Kern and Sauickie. Calogero said the new councilmen brought new energy to the panel. “Both of them hit the floor running and greatly contributed to the success we had in 2019.”
During the meeting Kern noted with amusement that he and Sauickie had been reminded numerous times that they were no longer freshmen on the council.
Calogero added, “I congratulate Councilman Sauickie for his new position as council vice president and look forward to working together during the coming months.” He acknowledged that while the township had faced some serious issues in 2019, the governing body had also shown great accomplishment and progress during the year.
“As we leave 2019 in the rearview mirror and look down the road to 2020 I would like to reflect on the year’s events. The new year was ushered in with the much deserving re-election of our three-term mayor, Mike Reina and newly elected councilmen. Together, working as a team this governing body shared many accomplishments,” Calogero said.
Calogero listed off those accomplishments stating, “the Mayor and his staff continue to present Council with fiscally responsible budgets, our combined efforts have yielded a near record high surplus, we established a sound employment record and we have a fully equipped Department of Public Works.”
The council president added that the township has “stronger code enforcement, and a better economic development climate. This governing body can also proudly boast excellent audits, and an above average Standard and Poor’s bond rating of (AA+) and is quoted as being the most fiscally sound municipality in Ocean County.”
“Our tax collection is at an almost perfect rate with 98 percent collections, our parks and playgrounds are undergoing a tremendous renovation,” Calogero said.
Kern who serves as liaison to the council regarding recreation facilities, strongly agreed with that remark noting that he had toured park facilities throughout the township last year.
During 2019 Kern said he worked to make contacts with key organizations that utilize township park facilities adding park improvement projects would make a “huge improvement for our young athletes.”
Calogero said that the township, “took a stance against liberal Trenton and voiced our distain over sanctuary cities. We continue to look for cost savings and efficiencies through shared services with our schools, our county and neighboring townships and we have ensured our second amendment rights were being upheld as it relates to gun permits.”
“The collaborative efforts of the Mayor and Council have resulted in the acquisition of 35 acres formally known as Rova Farms that will forever be preserved for open space. We have an aggressive plan for 2020 to continue to preserve open space throughout the town,” Calogero said.
The council president said he was extremely proud to report the township has a record high police force with 96 officers patrolling the over 100 square mile community.
“These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day and I will say for the record are second to no other police force in the state,” Calogero said.
“This council has also proved the voice of the residents is always heard. We have had several meetings with hundreds of residents in attendance. Our actions from the dais have proven we value and respect all of our residents,” Calogero added.
Calogero said that as a new decade has begun, “I ask you all, please do not believe in the rhetoric of a few keyboard warriors who have used social media to ignite flames of hate.
“The truth is, Jackson is a growing township, we have a diverse multi-culture population of nearly 60,000 residents who all have the same privileges, are deserving of the same rights and respect we all enjoy,” he said.
He added that “I am confident that if we all do our best to be good neighbors and obey the same laws of the land, the good people of Jackson can and will live side by side in peace and harmony for many years to come.”
Calogero described Jackson as “a safe, welcoming, financially sound township that we can all call home.”
Replacing long time Township Attorney Jean Cipriani as Jackson’s legal representation is Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin who was appointed to the position during the meeting. Last year, McGuckin served as the attorney for the township’s Planning Board.
Jeffrey Riker was reappointed to the Planning Board and will remain as the mayor’s designee. He was also appointed chairman of the Jackson Environmental Commission.
Also appointed was William Allmann as a member of the Jackson Municipal Utilities Authority. His five-year term will run from Feburary 1 through January 31, 2025.
The reorganization meeting marked the 14th reorganization meeting under its current governing system and the 176th reorganization overall.