Good evening, I’d just like to thank everyone for being here tonight, and I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year and thank the people of Fair Lawn for giving me the honor and privilege to serve as your mayor.
Special thanks go out to my friend the Honorable Judge Miguel de la Carerra for swearing me in. Miggy and I have been friends since we attended Radburn School almost 50 years ago. I also want to thank the council for giving me this opportunity and thank Mayor Baratta for the outstanding job she did in 2012.
I know I have big shoes to fill, actually in Mayor Baratta’s case, six inch high heels, but I thank her for all her hard work and dedication to the people of Fair Lawn.
I’m proud to serve on this council with such dedicated people. And unlike what we’ve seen in Washington in the last few months, this council has the ability to come together and work toward making Fair Lawn a better place. I know that sometimes it doesn’t seem like that, but I publicly want to thank Lisa, Kurt, Ed and Jeanne for working for the people of Fair Lawn’s best interest.
I’d also like to thank my family, loved ones and friends for all of their encouragement and support. Tonight I am fortunate to have many of you here with me. My three children John, Kevin and my daughter Kerryann are here and I thank them for their love, patience and understanding as you’ve watched dad be involved in so many activities over the years. My big sister, Peggy, who we almost lost last year, is here tonight and I’m so delighted that she could be here with us. And my girlfriend Maryanne, whose unwavering support and encouragement keeps me going every day.
I’ve been fortunate enough to live in Fair Lawn all my life, and as I said last year, that I’m sure when my grandparents traveled across the Passaic River and arrived in Fair Lawn over 100 years ago, they never dreamt that their grandson would have the honor of serving as the mayor of Fair Lawn. I only wish that my parents were alive and able to be here tonight. They were the ultimate volunteers and instilled their love for Fair Lawn in me, and it’s because of them that I sit here tonight. Believe me, I consider myself very fortunate to be able to serve as the mayor of the town that I love.
Tonight as we move forward, I believe that this gives me the opportunity to tell you, the residents, the state of Fair Lawn’s union. Our union is strong, but in these difficult times we are facing some of the same challenges that many other cities, towns and boroughs are across the country. The decline in our economy and escalating obligations have left us in a situation where we must constantly examine the way we operate. Although these are tough times, I know that this council will continue to look at our budget and try to stabilize taxes. I’m hoping that we can preserve many of our amenities that have made Fair Lawn such a great place – the library, community center, senior center and Memorial Pool are the cornerstones of our community. I’m sure that our council will work together to try to keep our foundation of community strong and preserve it for future generations.
Fair Lawn is a great town, and based on what I’ve heard from the results of our recent survey, our residents agree. Ours is a diverse community, but unlike places in our nation and in the world, our diversity is our strength. We are a large town with a small town attitude. Our volunteers, employees and police are second to none, as they recently just proved during Superstorm Sandy.
I know that all things for Fair Lawn are attainable if we all work toward keeping Fair Lawn the great place that it is. The challenge for all New Jersey communities is to get through these tough times and be ready to grow in the future. Our borough, like others, is fighting to maintain our way of life.
I know though, we will weather the storm, but I ask for your help and for your support. I’m looking forward to working with the council and the people of Fair Lawn to help shape our community. Over the next 12 months I’m sure we’ll have to deal with many complex issues, but I want you, the citizens of Fair Lawn, to know that we will continue to listen to you.
We will continue to try to limit the tax burden on our residents, resist overdevelopment and maintain the character of our community, maintain a positive environment where we empower our employees and volunteers, create opportunities for commerce, ensuring that our local businesses have the support that they need to be successful, which will help to ease our tax burden, and to listen to all residents about their concerns and work diligently to address them.
My journey to this chair has been a long one. Growing up in Fair Lawn, I have been blessed with all of the opportunities that this community has to offer. It’s been said that it takes a community to raise a child, and in my case, I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to thank all of those in Fair Lawn who have helped me -- my teachers, coaches, friends, fellow firefighters and relatives that have given me love and support throughout the years.
In closing, I would just like to say that I’m looking forward to working with all of you, the people of Fair Lawn, and the entire council in 2013, and I have high hopes and great expectations for Fair Lawn’s future. Thank you, god bless you and may god bless America.