Mayor’s Message — Working together makes Harrison better

Mayor Louis Manzo explains how you can get involved in Harrison Township projects, programs and events

Webster defines community as “a unified body of individuals with common interests.” Harrison Township is a special place for many reasons and the people who make up our community probably top that list. Many of our 13,000 residents have roots here several generations deep, while others have intentionally decided to make this their home. We are kind of a mini-melting pot of the best the Delaware Valley region has to offer. I write to you today to provide some insight on how things happen in town that help shape what our community looks and feels like. Most people in most towns feel disconnected from that process, but I want you to know how easy it is to play an active role in our community without spending a lot of time doing it.

The fact is, no decision, from a major commercial development project to the details of our Halloween parade, is made without the direct input of community members. That’s because all the boards and commissions in town are comprised of Harrison residents. More than 60 of your neighbors volunteer to sit on these various boards, which usually meet once a month. Some boards are more active than others. For example, the Recreation Commission stages multiple events throughout the year, while the Environmental Commission is more focused on research and projects related to issues affecting our natural environment. But, in every case, the final decisions are shaped by these residents. I have always said the best ideas for our community doesn’t come from the five elected members of the governing body; they come from you, often through a volunteer board member.

In the Township Committee form of government, all of these boards make recommendations to the governing body, which then take the required action. That’s how the “sauce is made” in local government. I had an interesting conversation with a resident recently who was expressing certain frustrations with government in general, which I agreed with, by the way. She was surprised to hear being mayor wasn’t my full-time job. She assumed it was. The reality is all five of the committee members have other full-time jobs, unless they’re retired. In many ways, all local elected officials are volunteers just like the board members I’ve mentioned here. The difference is we are paid (in Harrison, that salary is about $100 a week). Clearly, no one is doing it for the money, that’s for sure.

We are very fortunate here to have many people dedicated to shaping our community and taking a lead role in our “unified body of individuals with common interests.” We all love this place and that is what makes this the best place to live and raise a family in South Jersey. Thank you to all our board and commission volunteer members. You serve as the constant voice of our community, now and always.

Louis Manzo is the mayor of Harrison Township. He can be reached via email at lmanzo@harrisontwp.us and online at www.harrisontwp.us.