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Council Members Keep Promises for More Public Participation

Township council unanimously supported the reinstatement of a second public comment portion to its meetings, as well as "office hours" for council members.

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.

Joker's wild January 29, 2013 at 06:42 PM
What are the ground rules in the New Jersey room at the library? Could a citizen bring refreshments or drinks to these two on one discussions? Are there time limits? Can a citizen unload endless questions if no one else is at the door? Is there a referee? Are any of these comments "on the record" ? Will council discuss the citizens concerns during a council meeting? What if a third councilperson was in the library for story hour or playing Legos during these chats away in the nj room is that ok? If no one shows up the first half hour will both councilmen leave is angst? Can we bring our kids?
Any news? January 30, 2013 at 06:54 PM
We heard about this meeting at the library room with two councilmen. Is this an official meeting? Because what we want is to be on record in case the two council people ignore our pleas. We wanted to talk about open space monies that may be used at the last council meeting? Reval? And other various services. Do we make a reservation?
I spy something .. February 03, 2013 at 02:57 PM
...yeah, looks good! hope this works out ok. Openness is a nice thing, is there gonna be a time limit on the residents request part? What is to stop these windbags from filibustering the meeting?
dienstag February 03, 2013 at 04:05 PM
...any news on the new blog site that wss discusses at the meeting?
I spy something .. February 03, 2013 at 04:53 PM
...interesting , the town discussed having a blog spot on the towns website? Now is the IT committee involved with that? Are they capable of running such a thing without an " in house" tech personnel? Perhaps the council liaison or chair of IT committee should be in charge of that or at least be the watchdog on that sort of thing? What new is it a " in house" person or outsourcing or shared services with the BOE on the tech crew?

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