For the first time in 14 months, members of Haddonfield’s governing body, as well as borough employees, saw each other face to face on the grounds of borough hall. And within that renewed interpersonal contact came a restoration of public faith and trust in those chosen to represent the populace.
On the evening of May 25, Colleen Bianco Bezich, Kevin Roche and Frank Troy were sworn in as commissioners, having finished as the top three in an eight-candidate race.
Bezich, who won her first outright term for mayor after her election to finish John Moscatelli’s term in November 2019, garnered the most votes and became just the borough’s second female head of government.
“We are coming through COVID; we are here with family and friends to celebrate the community that is Haddonfield. I am here to focus on goodness, to focus on greatness, which is right here, in front of all of us,” Bezich said as an opening to her remarks from the front steps of the municipal building’s plaza.
Bezich recognized 6th-District Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, who had the honor of formally swearing in Bezich, for providing advice and a sympathetic ear during a rough period and for consultation on how to begin a career in public service.
Furthering a theme of empowerment, the new mayor also acknowledged a core group of women, without whose support she never would have considered a run for office. Included on that list were her mother, sisters-in-law and former Mayor Tish Colombi, who all taught her what leadership entails.
“If not for the support of that group of women, I would never have considered running in 2019,” Bezich noted. “And I certainly wouldn’t be standing here tonight as your newest and second female mayor. May we all be committed to lifting up others as you have done.”
In addition to duties as municipal leader, Bezich will retain her preelection role as head of public safety and public affairs, one she has held since January 2020.
Roche, who surged to second place in the official ballot count, will assume the role of commissioner for revenue and finance, taking over for Jeffrey Kasko.
“I am honored to be standing here in front of my community and I am ready to serve the residents of Haddonfield. Thank you for your confidence in me and my fellow commissioners,” he stated during a purposefully concise introductory speech.
“I never sought public office, but I have always believed if you can make a difference, you have to have the courage to act,” Roche added. “I want to be ever present. I want to be decisive. I thank you for allowing me to help lead the way.”
Troy, who finished third when all votes were counted, will take the reins of the department of public works from former Mayor Neal Rochford. The proud Navy veteran admitted the last four months of campaigning were a whirlwind, as he forged new friendships and solidified many existing ones, all while learning more about the borough. Troy thanked both Rochford and Kasko for their service and requested their advice and counsel in the years to come.
“You don’t need to be bad to be better,” Troy maintained. “We live in a great town. We do a lot of great things, so we’re not coming from a bad place. But there’s opportunity for improvement and my promise to you is to make things better.”
In other news:
- The board approved awarding a bid for Heritage Road, Lafayette Avenue, Jefferson Avenue and Upland Way stormwater improvements to RTW Construction Inc. of Southampton, for a base bid of $996,215. Eight companies submitted bids, with the highest coming from Asphalt Paving Systems, at $1,831,500.
- Commissioners also issued a proclamation declaring June 4 National Gun Violence Awareness Day in the borough, and encouraged all supporters to wear orange.
- The reconstituted board had a work session on June 1. A full public meeting is expected to follow at 7:30 p.m. on June 8.