It’s a new year, a new decade and a new mayor of Moorestown in 2020. On Monday, Jan. 6, Nicole Gillespie was sworn in as mayor, and Brian Donnelly will serve as her right hand having earned the title of deputy mayor.
Gillespie was nominated as mayor by her predecessor, Lisa Petriello, who thanked those in attendance for the honor and privilege to serve as mayor in 2019 before turning the gavel over to Gillespie.
“2019 was a busy and – at times – tumultuous year, and I’m incredibly proud of the work we accomplished,” Petriello said.
Petriello said in 2019, council took care of Moorestown’s assets and infrastructure. In a few months, the township will complete their work on their two water treatment facilities, and they are moving closer to a compliance hearing on their affordable housing obligation. Most recently, the township executed a federal aid agreement that will save the township hundreds of thousands in engineering expenses on the Lenola Project.
“We accomplished much, but we have much more to do in 2020,” Petriello said. “I know we will continue working hard to find real solutions to the issues that impact our businesses and residents every day.”
Donnelly seconded Petriello’s nomination of Gillespie, but Councilman Michael Locatell and Victoria Napolitano voted “no” in the official vote on Gillespie. In the vote for deputy mayor, Petriello nominated Donnelly, and Locatell seconded the nomination.
Locatell said his “no” vote for Gillespie was the result of a difference of agreement on boards and committee appointments, which he said boiled down to political differences.
“I’m hoping this is temporary,” Locatell said. “I’ll be open-minded and give you every opportunity to prove me wrong.”
Napolitano expressed similar reasoning saying there have been some recent changes at the council level on matters they were previously in agreement on.
Gillespie expressed her thanks for the nomination and her optimism about the work ahead. She said she’s committed to working with her fellow council members to tackle all they have on their plates in 2020.
“There’s a saying that change is inevitable but progress is optional,” Gillespie said. “Having a vision for the future means not living crisis to crisis but rather anticipating and managing change, so that it actually ends up being progress.”
Donnelly also expressed his gratitude for the nomination. He said there’s more work that goes on behind the scenes than the public may be aware of. Each council member serves on two boards or committees, attends special meetings and has packets of information to read up on before any given meeting. He said Moorestown council is more than just symbolic – it’s an active and informed organization.
“I think we’re making outstanding strides,” Donnelly said. “We’re moving forward in so many positive directions.”
The next meeting of Moorestown Township Council has yet to be announced.