The council chambers of the new Moorestown Town Hall was packed with residents, reporters and friends on Tuesday, Jan. 6 during the Moorestown Township Council reorganization meeting. Every seat was filled, and many people were standing on the sides of the room to see history being made.
On that night, Councilwoman Victoria Napolitano, at the age of 26, became the youngest Moorestown mayor, and perhaps the youngest female New Jersey mayor ever, while newly-elected Councilman Manuel Delgado became the council’s first member of Hispanic descent.
Local historians, libraries and organizations, including the New Jersey League of Municipalities and the New Jersey Conference of Mayors, were unable to confirm whether Napolitano made history as the youngest female New Jersey mayor.
“I am very proud. And if I can serve as a role model for other young women who want to step into the political arena and stand up for what they believe in, then I would be very proud to be that because we don’t have enough women in office,” Napolitano said.
“Obviously, I am very proud. Since she was a teenager, she has been very interested in politics,” Napolitano’s mother Maria Spellman said. “Actually, I am not surprised she is mayor. She is extremely bright, hard working, makes good decisions and is a great problem solver. In some ways, it is a little surreal since she is only 26, but I think she is going to do an excellent job for the town of Moorestown.”
Also on that night Phil Garwood was selected as deputy mayor and Stacey Jordan was reappointed to the council joining lone Democrat Greg Newcomer. All council members voted “yes” for Napolitano to be mayor and Garwood to be deputy mayor, except Newcomer who abstained to both.
After Jordan and Delgado were sworn in by Municipal Court Judge Lois F. Downey, Napolitano was elected as mayor, officially sworn into the position and made a speech.
Napolitano thanked her colleagues for giving her this opportunity as well as their faith in her to work on the challenges ahead. She said she looked forward to tackling them as they come. She also thanked family, friends and supporters who came out to that night’s meeting.
She especially made sure to thank the women in the town and county who were elected to various boards. She felt they helped to guide her and light her way to where she is now.
“I am so proud to be continuing in the tradition of conservative women stepping up to lead in Burlington County, and I must thank my family for their endless support,” Napolitano said.
After praising Moorestown, its schools and community, as well as standing behind first responders and members in law enforcement, Napolitano spoke on what she hopes to accomplish as mayor. Her focus will be on tax relief, saying it will be the №1 priority for the council. She also vowed to help improve the Lenola town center and district, fulfilling the promise she made when she and Garwood ran for office in 2012.
“Because it is first in your minds, tax relief will be the №1 priority for this council. I am pledging now that council will not support a budget this year that raises taxes on the hard-working people of Moorestown,” Napolitano said. “We are moving Moorestown forward. Let’s work together. We want to work with you.”
After thanking members of the council and congratulating the newest appointments, Garwood reinforced Napolitano’s words about tax relief.
Newcomer offered his congratulations to members of the council and made sure to point out that the duties of the mayor needed to change from saying “he” to “she.”
“I think we will have a lot of fun this year. I am looking forward to moving forward,” Newcomer said.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to start the year off with all of you. I am looking forward to the next year and working hard at continuing to make Moorestown a great town to live in. Thank you all for coming,” Delgado said.
Also that night, 49 residents were appointed to various committees. Members of the council thanked all the residents who were appointed to the committees and said they look forward to working with them.