MANCHESTER – A woman will take the helm of council for the first time ever in the township.
Councilwoman Joan Brush was chosen to lead the five-member council for 2019. Long-time Councilman Samuel Fusaro will serve as her vice president.
“I appreciate the help I get, the wonderful staff, and the department heads. Everyone is always offering their help,” Brush said. “It’s nice to be around good people. I enjoy it and I want to thank everyone for the opportunity to be here.”
Craig Wallis, James Vaccaro and Charles Frattini Sr. round out the 2019 council.
Brush was one of 12 applicants interviewed to fill the vacant council seat left by Brendan Weiner, who stepped down back in February 2017 when he, his wife and toddler daughter moved to Lacey Township. Brush was sworn in March 27 that year, and served to the end of that unexpired term in 2018. She ran with then-Council president Wallis unopposed, and with incumbent Mayor Kenneth Palmer, were all sworn in at the township’s Jan. 2 reorganization meeting.
The township by direct petition changed to the mayor-council form of government back in 1990. The government is nonpartisan; voters directly vote for the mayor and council members to four-year terms, with three council seats up for election one year, and the mayor and two council seats up for election two years after.
Palmer, who defeated long-time Mayor Michael Fressola back in the November 2014 general election, spoke briefly about his accomplishments during his first term and what he plans to do during his second term.
The driving force behind all his plans is leave Manchester better than he found it.
“It’s something that I have always thought about since I took this job. After four of the fastest years of my life, we – which includes the Council, 200 dedicated employees and the administration – I believe, have done so.”
Under his leadership and close working relationship with the council, Palmer said his administration has reduced the tax rate each year and built up its surplus to a 20-year high. He’s made $3 million worth of local road improvements, repaired and refurbished the township’s water infrastructure, bolstered police staff, and saved taxpayer money by entering into shared services agreements with Lakehurst and Toms River. With the help of late-Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., Palmer has started plans to bring a county park into town. Local fire departments have new trucks as well.
Looking ahead, the township plans to construct a new water tower, continue township parks and paving rehab projects, and expand town hall to accommodate the township’s growing needs. He and Council also want to work to attract commercial ratables into town.
Manchester Council meets 6 p.m. on Mondays at the municipal complex, 1 Colonial Drive. Some meetings are held Tuesdays due to holidays. The meeting dates are: Jan. 22, Feb. 11 and 25, March 11 and 25, April 8 and 22, May 13 and 28, June 10 and 24, July 8 and 22, Aug. 12 and 26, Sept. 9 and 23, Oct. 15 and 28, Nov. 12 and 25, and Dec. 16.