Cherry Hill welcomes first Korean American mayor

On Thursday, Jan. 3, Susan Shin Angulo was sworn in as Mayor of Cherry Hill by Congressman Donald Norcross. Shin Angulo was surrounded by family as she took the oath of office.

A standing room-only crowd gathered in the township’s municipal building Jan. 2 to witness a seminal moment in Cherry Hill history.

Congressman Donald Norcross administered the oath of office to Cherry Hill’s newly elected Mayor Susan Shin Angulo. She is the first Korean-American woman to hold the office of mayor in Cherry Hill and the first in New Jersey.

There was a palpable sense of goodwill in the packed room as the evening’s festivities kicked off with a performance of the national anthem by the student choir Fermata from Cherry Hill High School West, later followed by a dance performance from the K-Arts Dance Team from the Korean School of Southern New Jersey.

Throughout the evening, leaders from Cherry Hill’s various religious organizations offered prayers and kind words. 

Shin Angulo took a moment to thank her parents for instilling the importance of giving back to the community. She brings with her nearly a decade of public service. The new mayor was first elected to township council in 2009 and served for six years. She was elected in 2015 to the Camden County Freeholder Board, where she oversaw public works and other county projects.

Shin Angulo said her parents are the source of her passion for public service. 

Susan Shin Angulo delivers a speech after being sworn in as Mayor of Cherry Hill on Thursday, Jan. 3. Shin Angulo was optimistic about the road ahead.

“I stand before you as a woman and a mother, a first-generation college graduate and an immigrant whose family overcame poverty in pursuit of the American dream,” she said. “And now, I am proud and honored to be the first Korean-American woman mayor in Cherry Hill and —  I’m told — in the state of New Jersey.”

Shin Angulo also offered thanks to the residents of Cherry Hill for giving her the opportunity to serve. In return, she promised to support public safety initiatives so Cherry Hill residents are safe, manage the township budget and keep property taxes stable, invest in the township’s open spaces and neighborhoods and assist the community’s most vulnerable populations. 

“Working together, we can move Cherry Hill forward as a safe, stable, and welcoming community, where all of our residents can live comfortably and thrive,” the new mayor noted. 

The evening also saw Jennifer Apell, Michele Golkow and Brian Bauerle sworn into office.  Golkow and Bauerle were council incumbents in the Nov. 2019 election, while Apell represents the sole newcomer to council after taking the seat left vacant by former Council Vice President Sara Lipsett.

Apell said she felt humbled and honored to represent the people of Cherry Hill.

“Together, with you, we can continue to keep our town a progressive and exceptional place to live — somewhere we can all continue to be proud of,” she noted.

Golkow expressed a similar optimism about the road ahead. 

“Part of the strength of our township lies in our diverse and very special neighborhoods and community groups,” he said. “I look forward to working with our diverse neighborhoods to further engage our community.”

In the vote for council president, David Fleisher reclaimed the title after being nominated by Councilwoman Sangeeta Doshi and seconded by Golkow. Bauerle nabbed the vice-president seat left vacant by Lipsett. Bauerle was nominated by Councilwoman Carole Roskoph and seconded by Councilwoman Carolyn Jacobs.

Rabbi Steven Lindemann of Temple Beth Sholom brought a moment of levity to Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony as he read his own proclamation to the township. For more than 30 years, the mayors of Cherry Hill have been members of Temple Beth Sholom. Lindemann joked that the temple doesn’t want to end its streak.

Noting that Shin Angulo possesses and exemplifies all of the temple’s values, its board of directors decided to name her an honorary member. At that decree, the room erupted with good-natured laughter before Lindemann read the benediction to close out the evening’s festivities.