The reason has not been given, but a social media announcement by Fair Haven Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande has made it clear that 12-year Mayor Ben Lucarelli has resigned “effective immediately.”
The administrator only said in the announcement at about 1 p.m. that the administration wanted to “thank him for his accomplishments” during his mayoral tenure and “wish him luck.”
R-FH Retro has reached out to Lucarelli with no immediate response.
Of the limited information surrounding the resignation, Fair Haven Borough Council President Christopher Rodriguez, alluding to a bit of an explosive moment at last night’s council meeting, said late Tuesday afternoon, “I am still digesting the past ten hours of it all. I am still coming to grips with it all … I have not spoke to the council or mayor yet.”
The governing body’s political composition has shifted in the past few years. It has been either all Republican or majority Republican over the past couple of decades at least. Lucarelli is a Republican. Last year’s election turned the majority to Democrat, 4-2.
Lucarelli, who grew up in Rumson, moved to Fair Haven to raise his family. He served on borough council and when former Mayor Mike Halfacre, an attorney, resigned in 2012 to accept a position with the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control division under the Gov. Chris Christie administration, as holding office would have posed a conflict. Lucarelli was chosen from three nominees to fill his unexpired term and then ran for full terms.
In Fair Haven’s form of government, weak mayor, strong council, the mayor is elected separately for four-year terms as opposed to borough council members’ three-year tenure. The mayor only has a vote in council matters if he is needed to break a tie. He presides over meetings and has veto power.
According to state statute, a replacement must be named from a pool of three nominees of the same party as Lucarelli. Council will then vote on who gets the appointment to fill Lucarelli’s term, which ends at the end of 2022.
This is a breaking story. As soon as Lucarelli responds, there will be a follow-up.