TOMS RIVER – The new members of the governing body were sworn in, and said that they already started working on town issues.
At the township’s re-organization meeting, the politicians who won the November election were sworn in: Mayor Maurice Hill and Councilmen Kevin Geoghegan, Joshua Kopp, and Matthew Lotano. They thanked their supporters, family, and friends for believing in them.
They also said that their work in helping the community started before they were sworn in. As Kopp said, they spent the last eight months listening to people and the needs of Toms River. Lotano described how they’ve been invited to sit in on some meetings to get more information about the issues that Toms River is facing.
And they are facing a lot, Hill said in his first public address as mayor.
The residents are feeling the impact of a change in state funding that is cutting more than $90 million in aid to the school district, he said.
The downtown revitalization is underway and the council will be the redevelopment authority, he said. They are still petitioning the federal government to bring a Veterans Administration clinic to an area off Hooper Avenue.
The town will continue to partner with the county in preserving open space, he said. A recent purchase of a horse farm will lead to a private-public partnership that would create an equestrian center.
Hill also promised some new policies, such as a Meet the Mayor, customer service center on the township’s website, an Employee of the Quarter, and spreading good news about the township via social media.
It had been a particularly difficult election, and several of the elected officials made mention of the challenges. There was a three-way competition just for the primary, before Hill and company faced off against Democrats in November. Hill narrowly won over Jonathan Petro, with a margin of less than 300 votes.
Hill had been a councilman for 12 years when he decided to run for mayor. He led the Republican slate that included Lotano, a principal in the commercial Lotano Development Corporation; Kopp, a veteran and director of Kopp Electric Company; and former Councilman Geoghegan, a retired Toms River Police Officer and member of EMS and fire departments.
In related news, Councilwoman Maria Maruca was chosen as council president for the year, and Geoghegan was chosen to be vice president.