Tabernacle Township is off to a fresh start in 2020 as new committee people were sworn in and a longtime committeewoman made a return as mayor.
Kim Brown, who has served on the township committee for 21 consecutive years, was nominated and sworn in as mayor of Tabernacle at the township’s reorganization meeting last Thursday. Her ceremony was joined by family members including Southampton Mayor James Young, her father, and her husband Steve, who is battling ALS.
“I couldn’t exactly recall how many times I’ve been mayor; I would have to count the plaque that keeps track of it,” Brown said with a chuckle. “Usually as a committee, we always work together and unfortunately, you have one person who is the mayor and they’re the person that really runs the meetings and the ceremonial things.”
Brown’s perspective for the year is to work alongside her committee — Deputy Mayor Joe Barton, Committeemen Sam Moore III, Bob Sunbury and Nancy McGinnis — to brainstorm ideas and get things done as a whole.
With Tabernacle resting completely in the Pinelands National Preserve and under codes and laws set forth by the Pinelands Commission, Brown said one of her areas of focus is the Route 206 corridor. She wants to bring small businesses in, mainly at the empty Tabernacle Inn.
No goals have been set to bring in large businesses, as there’s a possibility of change in the landscape and appeal of the township. But Brown hopes to attract businesses that will enhance the township.
“We have a great community and we can only enhance it, and enhancements can go a long way,” she noted.
With an affinity for the school districts, Brown holds education near and dear to her heart, having sent her four kids through the Taberacle and Lenape Regional school districts. As a member of the Tabernacle Education Association (Brown is also a principal’s secretary at Olson Middle School), she knows the financial issues the district has and wants to help resolve them.
The 21-term politician briefly pondered township programs that could be enhanced, but she opened the door to new ideas from residents.
“If people keep brainstorming (out loud), that’s how ideas come to fruition,” Brown mentioned. “You have to start from somewhere and it’s people talking who bring these things out to get them to where you want them to do.”
Tabernacle’s position in the Pinelands prevents some new technologies in the township, but Brown said she makes it a mission of hers to remain approachable to residents and hear their thoughts and suggestions.
Brown noted that she learns about people on the basis of education and through their children. The Tabernacle native also make frequent trips to the supermarket, and during various excursions, has met with residents and heard their thoughts on the township.
“I’m not unapproachable,” she Brown commented. “I welcome people to speak to me, and they do! They don’t have any problems talking to me and it’s just a matter of doing what’s right for the community.”
As the township formally has a new mayor, Brown said she hopes to keep Tabernacle as the “best-kept secret in New Jersey” while still attracting appropriate ratables and maintaining the beauty of its 50 square miles.
“We don’t want (Tabernacle) taken over; we want to enhance it just as you would have a piece of decor to enhance your decorations,” she insisted. “That’s what we would like for our community.
“It’s a beautiful community and I can’t say that we need to fix it because it’s already a great community. “