By Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven students had a lesson in civics on Monday.
As part of a now annual tradition, the Fair Haven Borough Council conducted one of its meetings at Knollwood School. And the kids learned some things about local government policy that they did not necessarily understand.
For one, members of the governing body told the group that if you want to be heard, you need to speak up and go to meetings.
And, said Council President Jonathan Peters, “It’s always best to approach us first … ask us your question. Don’t yell at us right away. Just ask us what you need an answer to and if you don’t get the answer, then you can yell at us.”
Councilman Rowland Wilhelm called attention to the fact that two women who have lived in the borough for decades, Ruth Blaser and Susan O’Brien, are at every meeting “holding us accountable.”
Like it or not, he said, the two exemplify what residents’ rights are all about. They are usually at every single meeting, “keeping us in check,” he said. Blaser asked council, among other things, if they’d consider having an open public meeting, agenda-free, to get people in town together when more are available, perhaps on a Saturday.
Mayor Ben Lucarelli explained something that he acknowledged many people don’t understand — what type of government their town is working under.
In Fair Haven, for example, the form of government, he said, is that of Borough Council. “It’s a form of municipal government that has a strong council and weak mayor,” he said. “What that means is that the council members are the ones who vote on all the local laws.”
The mayor, if necessary, breaks ties only. He does not customarily vote. He, on the other hand, sets agendas and has veto power.
Council took questions from the student body, many of whom took the opportunity to ask questions.
Some questions included those about pot holes around town, the pending lights at Fair Haven Fields, recycling and open space acquisitions.
Council also recognized its newly-elected member, Aimee Humphreys, and invited her to join them for a first time in executive session.
Check out our photos from the meeting.
Stay tuned for more council action at the meeting and our interview with Aimee Humphreys.