Reorganization 2015 in Fair Haven brought a new council member to the dais — a lone Democrat — and new fire and first aid line officers.
In addition to Mayor Ben Lucarelli being sworn in to his first full four-year term, incumbent Susan Sorensen took the oath for her second council term. The newcomer to the governing body, Aimee Humphreys was sworn in to her first three-year and then took a seat at the dais for her first council meeting..
Fair Haven Fire Department and First Aid Squad members were sworn in as follows:
Both Rumson and Fair Haven’s reorganizations are, as usual, slated for the same day, same time — New Year’s Day at noon.
Though they are, naturally, in different places — Rumson’s at Bingham Hall and Fair Haven’s at Borough Hall. And, the agendas are different.
In Fair Haven, Democrat Aimee Humphreys will be sworn in to her first term on Borough Council. Mayor Ben Lucarelli will be sworn in to his first full four-year term in office after filling the unexpired term of former Mayor Michael Halfacre. Susan Sorensen will be sworn in to her second term on the dais.
“Aimee, would you like to join us?” asked Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli of Councilwoman-elect Aimee Humphreys as the governing body went into executive session after the Nov. 10 meeting.
It was slightly a week shy of the newest council member’s election. The next meeting, now an annual tradition, was held at Knollwood School as a civics lesson to students about the workings of the group of people elected to represent them and their parents.
And Humphreys was there and eager for indoctrination into her new post as of the New Year.
Humphreys, a Democrat, is the first to break the all-Republican hold on the Fair Haven dais in a very long time. The last was independent Mayor Joseph Szostak, who won his independent bid for mayor in 2002. He served one term through 2006 when former Mayor Michael Halfacre won the mayoral election.
Since the election, Humphreys has been seen around town. She told Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect at the borough’s Veterans Day service that she anticipated, despite her minority position on the governing body, that “everything will be great.
“We’re all friends. We’ve all lived here a long time and all have the town’s interests at heart. I think it’s going to be a really positive experience. I’m really looking forward to it.”
She no sooner said that when Mayor Lucarelli walked over and welcomed her as a future governing body member and thanked her for being there.
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.
The high vote getter in the council race was Susan Sorensen, who won her second three-year seat on the dais with 1,216 votes, or roughly 37 percent to Humphreys’ approximate 33.
Total votes cast for the council race were 3,268.
There were five write-ins. And as “unofficial” results dictate, provision and absentee ballots have not all been counted.
Republican Mayor Ben Lucarelli has won his uncontested bid for re-election with 1,354 votes. There were 25 write-ins.
The last time the GOP hold on the dais was broken was when Joseph Szostak won his independent bid for mayor in 2002. He served one term through 2006 when former Mayor Michael Halfacre won the mayoral election.
He served until 2012, or one-and-a-half terms, when he stepped down upon being appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to serve as director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Watch for a follow-up interview with the newest member of the governing body and Sorensen.