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Westfield Mayor and Town Council Inauguration 97

Taking Oath (left to right)

Jack Walsh, Mayor Tom Jardim, Gail Vernick, Larry Goldman, Jim Gruba (not shown)

NEW MAYOR URGES BIPARTIANSHIP RELATIONSHIP WITH REPUBLICAN MAJORITY

By PAUL J. PEYTON

Mayor Jardim Takes Oath as Westfield's First Democratic Mayor In Eight Decades; Mr. Goldman and Mr. Walsh Join Town Council.

A standing room only crowd of over 300 helped Westfield usher in a new era New Year's Day when Thomas C. Jardim took the oath to become Westfield's first Democratic mayor in 85 years when J. Allston Dennis sat on the dais. The sweep in the election by Mr. Jardim and his runningmates Lawrence C. Goldman and John J. Walsh, reduces the Republican majority from 8-1 to 5-4, the slimmest margin the GOP has ever had in Westfield's history. The party held three seats at one time in the 1970s.

Throughout the Democrats speeches the theme was the near "miracle" Westfield witnessed when Mr. Jardim, a long shot and two-year resident, defeated life-long Westfielder and veteran First Ward Councilman, Norman N. Greco. Also victorious that day was Mr. Walsh and Mr. Goldman over Anthony N. Palumbo and than incumbent Janis Fried Weinstein, respectively.

Mayor Jardim urged a bipartisanship working relationship with the Republican majority to ensure that the opportunities faced by the council to improve the quality of life of residents and solve the "malingering problems of the past." He said council members from both parties must "put aside politics, party and partisanship," avoid ego and self-interest and "forge a government and a Westfield of which we can all be proud."

The 3 p.m. ceremony was witnessed by numerous dignitaries from the two major political parties including former Mayors Garland C. "Bud" Boothe, Jr., who Mayor Jardim succeeds; H. Emerson Thomas, Raymond W. Stone, Alexander Williams, and Richard H. Bagger, now a State Assemblyman, and Ronald Frigerio. Also attending were former Westfield Democratic Councilmen Thomas C. Pluta, Michael Diamond, Arthur C. Fried and Anthony M. LaPorta, and former Republican Council members W. Jubb Corbet and Betty List. Board of Education President Susan Jacobson and board members Dr. Carol B. Molnar, Ginger Hardwick, and Arlene L. Gardner were also in attendance along with former board member William Sweeney.

Representing the county were Democratic Freeholders Carol I. Cohen of Westfield, new Freeholder Vice Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan of Elizabeth, new Freeholder Donald Goncalves, also of Elizabeth, and Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi.

Among Mayor Jardim's agenda is the vibrancy of the downtown, keeping municipal spending under control by holding the "municipal bottom line," and trying to find a solution to Westfield's parking woes which currently has commuters waiting three years for a permit at the South Avenue train station parking lot.

In terms of parking Mayor Jardim once again announced his intention to push for through-service to New York City on New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley line. He said this service would increase property values and improve the quality of life for Westfield commuters. In terms of municipal taxes, Mayor Jardim said he would support a "comprehensive management audit of how and why each municipal dollar is spent" if necessary.

Mayor Jardim said municipal government must become more "user-friendly and responsive" to both businesses in town and residents. He said this must include a more efficient and quicker process of issuing permits for home and business improvements. Commenting on the Special Improvement District, which recently unveiled its proposed 1997 budget, Mayor Jardim said the council must review budget "with an eye on eliminating the potential for administrative waste." Mayor Jardim said the council "must aim to make a deep and lasting impression which will endure in Westfield for years to come."

He was sworn into office by his uncle, former State Senator and current Union County Superior Court Judge, Alexander J. Menza of Hillside. In attendance was a number of friends who helped him during the campaign including fellow Democrats, Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas, and Elizabeth Councilmen A. Tony Monteiro and Manny Grova, Jr. The inauguration was the first in Westfield in some 25 years. Traditionally the town has sworn in its new council members and mayors at the reorganization meeting, traditionally held the first Tuesday of January.

The Democrats had asked the Republicans to set the meeting for New Year's Day. However, when it was learned two members of the governing body could not attend, the majority party declined the Democrats request but agreed to have the inauguration on New Year's Day so out-of-town friends and family of the newly sworn officials could attend.

Also taking the oath were Democrats Lawrence C. Goldman and John J. Walsh and Republican First Ward Councilwoman Gail S. Vernick. Mrs. Vernick was re-elected to a second term after facing no opposition in the fall election. Mayoral and council terms run for two years in Westfield.

Prior to Mayor Jardim swearing in, Mr. Walsh and Mr. Goldman took the oath. In using the Hebrew word, "nes godol hayah poh," which translates to "a great miracle happened here," Councilman Walsh said the newly-elected Democrats pledge "to create an open government, forge new alliances, try creative solutions and develop a can do attitude towards our governmental problems." Councilman Walsh said, in speaking to those who did not support the Democratic ticket and are concerned over the change, the Democrats "intend to keep, preserve, protect and maintain all those traditions, customs, and practices" of the town.

Councilman Goldman thanked Freeholder Cohen for efforts in keeping "the flame of a Democratic Party in Westfield, often a mere flicker." He also said Mayor Jardim "shattered the notion that a Democrat cannot be elected as Mayor of Westfield." Councilman Goldman said the Democratic sweep in this past November's election brings a "true two-party government to Westfield for the first time." Councilman Goldman said this will mean opening the various boards and commissions to a "broader and more diverse membership by persons who care deeply about this community, want to participate, but have been shut out." He said he sought office because of his "life-long commitment of volunteer service to my community and a desire to get involved and try to make a difference rather than sit on the sidelines and complain."

During her speech, Councilwoman Vernick pledged a "spirit of cooperation" with Mayor Jardim and Councilmen Goldman and Walsh. She said Westfield has a tradition for "leaving politics and partisanship on the steps outside the municipal building." The councilwoman said she feels confident this will continue in the future.

The oath of offices were observed from the dais by Second Ward Councilman Matthew P. Albano, Third Ward Councilman Neil F. Sullivan, Jr., all Republicans, and Democratic Fourth Ward Councilman James Hely who emceed the festivities. Following the inauguration and speeches which lasted almost an hour, a reception was held in the Community Room of the Municipal Building.

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Revised: 08/06/97.