Fulfilling their campaign promises, new council members Greg Newcomer, Phil Garwood and Victoria Napolitano—along with Mayor Stacey Jordan and Deputy Mayor Chris Chiacchio—took steps Monday night to give the public more chances to have their voices heard.
Beginning next Monday, members of council will hold "office hours," giving residents an opportunity to meet with them in a more informal setting. Garwood and Newcomer will make themselves available at 7:30 p.m. Monday (Feb. 4) in the New Jersey Room at the library.
"There's a lot of smart people in this town," said Garwood. "We should listen to them."
In a statement released after Monday night's council meeting, Jordan stated, "By holding office hours outside of regular council meetings, we are giving the taxpayers the attention they deserve and offering a way for our citizens to feel comfortable addressing their issues somewhere besides a microphone in a crowded room."
A second date will be announced soon with Chiacchio and Napolitano.
In addition to the office hours, council also decided unanimously to reinstate the "Residents' Requests and Presentations" portion of its meetings, which was removed from the agenda in 2011.
The idea was introduced by Newcomer, who made the suggestion a key feature of his platform when he ran for council in the fall, alongside fellow Democratic candidates Mark Hines and Brian Sattinger.
The idea was immediately supported by the rest of the council members, though township manager Scott Carew suggested council limit the Requests and Presentations—which will come at the beginning of the meeting—to items not already on the agenda, a suggestion which was also supported by council.
To read a full statement from the Republican members of council, click on the attached PDF.