JACKSON – Council President Barry Calogero resigned from office during a special May 5 council meeting. Vice Council President Alex Sauickie assumed the role of council leader a week later.
Calogero’s resignation made it clear that while he cited health issues as the primary reason for his departure, that other issues were also contributing to stress and that there was some disagreement on development issues that have been challenging the governing body for several years.
“I was not elected by a judge. I was not elected by a builder. I was not elected by the one sitting councilman who insists we have no choice but to approve over development in every case,” Calogero said.
While he did not name that councilman, it was concluded by many in the virtual audience that he was referring to Councilman Kenneth Bressi who came under fire from his fellow Republicans when he served on the Planning Board for some development issues.
Bressi was replaced on the planning board by another member of that body, Martin Flemming who was appointed to the council in January, replacing the vacant seat of Robert Nixon, who resigned from office in late November of 2019. Bressi voted for his replacement on that panel.
Calogero noted that he had been elected twice by the people of this town and that he accepted the criticism that an official receives when elected to council.
He added that he felt, “the courts are wrong in their approach on affordable housing mandates. I believe changes by greedy developers should be rejected and I believe those who want to turn Jackson into an overdeveloped and terribly planned town need to be called out.”
Mayor Michael Reina commended Calogero for his years of service. His sentiments were echoed by members of the council and residents of the community.
“I thought this might be the conversation tonight,” Bressi said. “I knew you had health issues and have been battling Parkinson’s disease. I know this was a tough decision for you to make. I wish you all well in your endeavors. Thank you for your service all these years.”
Flemming thanked Calogero saying, “I want to thank Barry for his service to the township and I want to wish him well in his future endeavors.”
“Barry Calogero is an honest, honorable decent man and a wonderful friend. He always had Jackson residents at heart and made decisions made on the well-being of our residents. He has worked hard for the people of Jackson in volunteer and elected roles for over 15 years. He has been an inspiration to me, fighting the effects of his condition and continuing to fight to do what he could for other people, putting them first,” Councilman Andrew Kern said.
Sauickie described the occasion as “a very somber night. He has given this town more than 15 years when you include all the volunteer boards that Councilman Calogero served. He clearly listened to all the residents of this town.”
“I think he fought for what the residents of this town asked him to fight for which is Jackson’s quality of life,” Sauickie said. “When you talk about the quality of life you talk about the ways in which you can measure a town.”
Sauickie said, “he fought against state mandated COAH, and more affordable housing development. He did it because when you live in a state that has the most foreclosures in the country it doesn’t make sense to blindly build more housing.”
Sauickie said Calgoero “fought for fiscal responsibility and efficiency, smart commercial ratables to lower the tax burden on residents while encouraging business where it made the most sense to keep traffic low throughout the town. He has always been a champion of our police department and first responders. On a personal note he’s been a great leader, a great friend and an example of doing what’s right.”
Township Clerk Janice Kisty said of Calogero, “I’ve known you for a long time, I worked with you on the Zoning Board. I thank you for your leadership and good luck with everything.”
Business Administrator Terence Wall also thanked Calogero for his “leadership and statesmanship. You represented that completely.”
During the public comment period of that meeting resident Eleanor Hannum said, “thank you Barry for calling out those who should be called out and thank you for your service to Jackson. You have done well by all of us. You will be dearly missed and just know we will all stand watch for our beloved Jackson.”
“Thank you Barry for all your tireless efforts,” resident Jeff Riker said.
Denise Garner said, “thank you Councilman Calogero for your years of dedication to Jackson Township.
“Thank you Barry for everything you have done for Jackson and especially for all you have done for me,” resident Joseph Sullivan said.