New Year Brings New Faces to Caldwell Council (Video)
Sen. Codey swears in Rodgers and Kelley. New police and fire chiefs take oath of office.
With supporters overflowing out of the council chambers, two new councilmen, a new police chief and a new fire chief were among borough officials sworn-in on New Year's Day in Caldwell.
Sunday's one-hour reorganization meeting was jam-packed with first of the year business. More than a dozen oaths were administered, including those of new Democratic Councilmen Frank Rodgers and John Kelley, Caldwell Police Chief James Bongiorno and Caldwell Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Gary Garamella. Councilman Richard Hauser was elected council president for 2012, and council committee appointments were announced.
N.J. Sen. Richard Codey (D-27th) administered the oath of office to Rodgers and Kelley, who both had their sons hold the bible. After they were sworn-in, they took their new seats on the dais.
Former Gov. Codey called serving on town council "very tough."
"Last year Hurricane Irene, the snow in October, they don’t call the governor, they call the mayor and the council. So it’s not an easy job believe me," Codey said.
Codey came to Caldwell from a reorganization meeting in Madison, where he said he swore in a new mayor and council members.
"I’ve been doing a lot of swearing," he joked, "Don’t tell the governor, he may accuse me of having a bad mouth."
Kelley later said that Codey played an integral role in his and Rodgers' successful campaign.
“Gov. Codey was an inspiration during our campaign, providing advice and encouragement," Kelley said. "We feel his leadership was instrumental in our victory.”
Kelley also acknowledged the role Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing, a Republican, played in his decision to run for public office after he took an opposing view to the majority of the council about installing an all-way stop at the intersection of Hatfield Street and Arlington Avenue last year.
"Mayor Dassing, when we spoke by phone last winter during the petition drive you encouraged me to consider running for office if I was unhappy," Kelley said. "I have not forgotten that advice and I do look forward to working with you—together—in 2012."
Before the new council members took their oaths, Dassing thanked outgoing Councilmen Douglas Piazza and Joseph Norton for their service to the borough, presenting them with plaques.
Piazza served on the council for a little more than a year and was credited for implementing the ability to pay tax and water bills online, as well as negotiating a deal with Comcast to televise town meetings. Norton served a full three-year term and was instrumental in initiatives involving traffic calming and the downtown, according to Dassing.
"We made a lot of strides over the last three years and I know the council that is here now and for the next three years are going to continue making those strides," Norton said in his final remarks. "We made a lot of changes, for the good I believe, for the future of the Borough of Caldwell."
New Caldwell Police Chief James Bongiorno took his oath Sunday with his family by his side. Bongiorno had been serving as Officer in Charge of the department since the end of November when he was named as the successor to recently retired Chief Kurt Dombrowski.
Chief Dombrowski was in the public Sunday along with Chief Michael Bramhall of West Caldwell and Chief Mark Deuer of North Caldwell. Former Mayor of Caldwell Susan Gartland was also present, as were former members of the council, Jeff Curley, Peter Mescia and John Taylor.
Recently promoted members of the Caldwell Police Department also took their oaths Sunday, including Det. Lt. Anthony Marta, Sgt. George Henderson and Sgt. Michael Geary, as well as newly hired Probationary Officers Michael Kraynanski, Justin Rizzo and Justin Misano.
Caldwell also has a new fire chief, Gary Garamella, who was sworn in with his father and wife at his side. Caldwell Volunteer Fire Department officers, Captain Thomas Haight, Second Asst. Chief Gerard Grenci, Lt. Andrew Pollara, Lt. Brian Hebrank and Lt. Andrew Intili also took their oaths.
Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R) administered oaths to police and fire department members.
"Caldwell is one of the most well run, one of the wonderful towns we have in Essex County," O'Toole said.
Councilman Peter Murray, who served as council president in 2011, nominated Councilman Hauser to serve as council president in the new year, a move which received full support of the council.
In 2012, Caldwell will hold council meetings in sync with West Caldwell on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. Meetings start at 7 p.m.