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  • Writer's pictureChristine McGrath

Remarks from 2023 Reorganization Meeting

Good afternoon. Thank you to all of the residents, staff, and elected officials for attending our reorganization meeting today, and to Municipal Clerk Jennifer Kiernan for leading today’s event. I want to especially thank Congressman Payne for swearing me in. It is an honor to have you at our re-organization meeting. We are all so excited to be in your congressional district. We know that you and your staff will be a big help to Verona as we face significant challenges where we need federal assistance. Thank you.

I want to congratulate Alex Roman on his reelection to a third term, and I am excited to continue to work with him, Councilwoman Holland, Councilman McEvoy, and Councilman Tamburro over the next few years.

I also want to point out that, with my swearing in today, we have once again made history. Never before has the Verona Council had two women serving on it for more than two consecutive years. This is one small step forward for our community as we move towards a more representative government. I am proud to serve as an example of strong female leadership, and will spend my next four years working on expanding participation for all under-represented groups in our local government.

I want to thank our Township Manager, Joe D’Arco, our Municipal Clerk Jennifer Kiernan, all of department heads, staff, police force, and our Township Attorney Brian Aloia. I appreciate so much your commitment and dedication to our community. What I hear from residents resoundingly is that they really love living here – and that is a direct result of the hard work that you put in every day. Thank you.

My parents are here today, and I want to thank them for all of their support in my life journey, and the constant role they play in my children’s lives. What I learned from them is the importance of a strong marriage where both partners are equals. They clearly were a success as they are celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary this month. It is in their loving image that led me to my wonderful husband, Jess.

My husband wrote this beautiful message to me this week on social media, and I cannot match his eloquence here today. But I will say that I could not serve this community without him. He is 100% in my corner. At times, he can see my full potential more clearly than I can. If my confidence ever wavers, he is right there to back me up. I am so thankful that I have an equal by my side during this incredible journey.

To my sons – William and Jackson –when you are adults I am not sure what you what you will remember from this experience. It may be me saying “I have a meeting” and then having to eat dinner at 5 o'clock. I hope it is more than that – that with time you will understand that communities only fully thrive if dedicated individuals invest significant time in them to make them stronger, and your mother was very committed to making that investment. I love you both – and William – Happy 16th Birthday.

Someone asked me during the campaign what the best part of serving on the Verona Town Council is – and I did not hesitate in my answer – its meeting the residents. This role on the Council has given me the opportunity to get to get to know so many of you, and I am in awe at how many talented residents live in Verona. Regardless of whether or not you lived here for 1 year or 30 years, there is a deep passion and commitment to this community – and it is the secret sauce that makes us a great place to live. Thank you to all the residents who voted for me and supported me through this journey, and a special thank you to all of the volunteers who serve on our Boards and Committees or as first responders in our community.

Verona, like many municipalities in New Jersey, is facing some very significant challenges. Our infrastructure is aging, we need to develop a firm plan to address flooding in our community, and several recreation facilities need renovation and replacement. Our downtown, which could be so much more, needs a vision and a plan. After years of a strategy of cost cutting, we realize now we neglected revenue generation, and we need to move our finances forward.

While on the surface overwhelming, I am excited to dive into these challenges with the Council and our incredible staff, and will do so with my trademark energy and enthusiasm. The most constraining resource for the Council is time, not money. I encourage the Council to be laser focused on getting to common ground on our most pressing challenges as soon as possible so that we can make meaningful progress.

Thank you again, and I look forward to serving the Verona community on the Town Council for four more years.

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