Council discusses Better Together Moorestown committee

Township also recognizes National Black Business Month

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: Moorestown council discusses an advisory committee draft proposal presented by the volunteer group Better Together Moorestown at its Aug. 8 meeting.

Better Together Moorestown – a diverse group of Moorestown residents who work to protect and celebrate diversity and ensure inclusion among residents, businesses and visitors while promoting an innovative and engaged community – presented a Better Together Advisory Committee draft proposal at council’s Aug. 8 meeting.

According to the proposal, the Better Together Advisory Committee will advise and assist the township council and other officials on matters involving diversity, equity and inclusion in the community, ensuring that cultural, economic and ethnic differences are considered in decision-making.

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Deputy Mayor Sue Mammarella explained how as of 2021, a group of 35 volunteers have worked together to help develop the Better Together Task Force.

“ … We met for the better part of a year, and we had hundreds of hours put in,” she said. “We also did a town-wide survey to guide some of our movements, and the task force then had several subcommittees. We created an ordinance, a draft ordinance, for council to take a look at.”

The proposal says the Better Together Advisory Committee will consist of 12 regular and two student members appointed by council who must be Moorestown residents. Members are encouraged to represent the diverse perspectives within the community. 

Regular committee members will be appointed for two-year terms and student committee members will be appointed to a one-year term. Councilman Jake Van Dyken and Mayor Nicole Gillespie raised questions concerning potential committee members.

“ … I need some more information on how you ultimately choose who will be on the committee and how that person or persons represent the populace of this town and can speak from different perspectives on diversity, equity and inclusion,” Dyken said.

“ … I don’t think we need to be challenging members of the committee to have diverse perspectives, I think we need to challenge ourselves,” Gillespie said. “Council will appoint those members, so I think the challenge to council is to appoint members that represent diverse perspectives and diverse communities in this town.”

Task Force member Richard Hinchman addressed council during public comment at its meeting.

“I’ve been part of the task force from the beginning,” he noted. “For me, I came onto the committee because I felt like I represent the LGBT community in this town, and we have very unique experiences in this town, both negative and positive, as any of the people who are part of a minority (in) this town.”

“ … I believe Moorestown has the possibility to be better, and that’s why I joined the committee and that’s why I’m encouraging council to continue the work to create a committee,” Hinchman added. “I do want to be on the committee to represent the voice of the community that I come from … as an LGBT person, but also I have very serious concerns about the aging community.”

“ … I think the next step is that we get an actual draft ordinance that will go on the agenda when we get it ready when we can,” the mayor said. “I think how this committee starts off will determine its trajectory.”

“I think we need to strike a balance between ‘hurry up and get to work’ and not thinking through some issues that might cause problems as we move forward.”

To view the Better Together Advisory Committee draft proposal, visit www.moorestown.nj.us

Earlier in the meeting, council honored the achievements of the Moorestown Track and Field team and proclaimed August National Black Business Month.

“ … I’m honored to be honored as a Black business owner,” said Brian Hamilton, founder of Next Level Men’s Wear and Purple Magnolia Boutique. 

“ … I support small businesses in general. In your community (in) Moorestown, let’s support small businesses … 

“We need your support (and) we appreciate your support” he added. “Not just Black businesses, but all small businesses.”

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