After a closely contested race decided by less than 25 votes, committee member Julie DeLaurentis was sworn in to a new three-year term at Harrison Township’s virtual reorganization meeting Monday night.
“I am honored to continue to serve our residents and to be a steward of the township,” said DeLaurentis, who was sworn in by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez.
After thanking family, friends and committee members, DeLaurentis went on to credit local police and emergency workers, teachers, health care personnel and virtually every township department and group, as well as residents, for efforts over the past year.
“Together we are an incredible team,” DeLaurentis said, “and we are the definition of ‘Harrison Strong.’”
In addition to DeLaurentis’ appointment, Senate President Steve Sweeney swore Louis Manzo into another term as mayor, and Don Heim maintained his position of deputy mayor after being sworn in by Assemblyman Bill Moen.
Sweeney commended DeLaurentis on her win, calling the year’s campaign “brutal.” He said he’s looking forward to a great 2021 and to getting things done in the township.
“In Harrison Township, there is no partisan politics,” Sweeney said. “They look at what’s best for the community.”
When Manzo spoke, he reflected on something Sweeney told him when he was first elected more than a decade ago.
“After all of the politicking is done and after the campaigns are over and the election is over, it’s not about politics anymore – it’s about governing. All the people want you to do once that’s over with, they want you to do one thing and one thing only, and it’s to get things done,” recalled Manzo, who has served as mayor for 14 years. He added he feels blessed the current committee members can set aside circumstances, philosophies and politics and have a “Harrison First” mentality.
Manzo’s fellow committee members noted the mayor for his leadership.
“You’ve done nothing less than be a shining beacon for all of us,” committee member John Williams said, while Heim called Manzo the finest mayor in the state, and perhaps the country.
“You don’t get nearly enough of the credit that you deserve for the wonderful place that has become Harrison Township,” Heim continued.
Each committee member spoke during the reorganization meeting, reflecting on a difficult year, but thanking the community and township for coming together and supporting one another during such an unprecedented period.
“Resiliency was displayed throughout the year,” committee member Adam Wingate said.
“I cannot say enough how proud I am of how this community and leadership team has risen to the challenges of this pandemic,” Williams noted.
After thanking his fellow committee members for choosing him as deputy mayor for another year, Heim also spoke about the trials of 2020.
“It is said it takes a village, and we have quite a village here … Everyone came together in their own way and as a community for the betterment of the town,” Heim said, “and I think in some ways we’re all better for it. Even in the midst of the pandemic that has been so trying.”
Heim urged everyone to embrace that feeling and use it to go forward.
“Hold on to that better,” he said.
In other news:
A blanket motion approved 55 resolutions read by Acting Clerk Daneen Fuss, from approving the 2021 temporary budget to a variety of appointments.
In addition, Resolution 40-2021 fixed the rate of interest on delinquent taxes and sewer rental charges and assessments, with no interest charged if payment or any installment is made within the 10th calendar day for taxes, and the 30th calendar day for sewer rental charges following the date on which the same became payable.
Resolution 43-2021 awarded a contract to Dr. Steve Milden with Delaware Valley Animal Hospital for a rabies vaccination clinic within the township. Dates were not yet given for any clinics.
After the resolutions, there were a number of additional appointments made during the reorganization, including to boards and commissions. These included: Elizabeth Sarson, Rich Dubeau, Lawrence Moore, Joseph Schwab, Mathew Warner and Sam Zappala to the Environmental Board; Mathew Warner and Joseph Schwab to the Green Team; Dave Tinney, Ernest Miller and Judy Baillere to the Historic Preservation Commission; Joseph Schwab, Dennis Chambers, Louis Manzo, Walter Bright, Julie DeLaurentis, Dennis Bonnani, Matt Cardile and Robert Schumann to the Joint Land Use Board; Jack McElwee, Joe Pacera and Dennis Chambers to the Land Preservation Advisory Committee; David Johnson and Don Lynch to the Recreation Commission; and John Sommer, Christian Harch, Ray Paterno and Patrick Shields to the Veterans Commission.
Due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18, the next meeting of Harrison Township Committee is Tuesday, Jan. 19.