MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — Clear skies tempered the bitter cold as three members of committee took the oath of office and promised good things in 2018 for area residents.
Mayor Mike Clark, Deputy Mayor Jeff DeVico and Committeeman Tim Donohue were each sworn in as committeemen at noon Monday, Jan. 1 at Town Hall in Cape May Court House. While a regular meeting followed with the quick approval and adoption of yearly resolutions, annual appointments and a temporary budget, one item on the day’s agenda was singled out as good for both committee members and area residents.
“You’re going to see a change today in committee meetings for 2018,” DeVico said. “Number 17 on today’s agenda is important, because it adds a work session each month.”
DeVico, who is in his second term on Township Committee, has pushed for several years to have additional work sessions. This year he got his wish.
Prior to 2018 there was one scheduled committee work session each month, a time for committee members to meet and discuss proposals and township business.
With just three seated committee members, any other time two of them meet, it could be considered a quorum if they discuss any township business.
That includes casual social meetings, lunch at the local diner, or crossing paths in a store. If business is discussed with a quorum of committee members present, state Sunshine Law requires both the public and the media to be be notified.
Prior to 2018, committee members discussed upcoming business during two-hour work sessions once a month. At all other times, the business township administrator acts as a go-between for committee members, relaying information between parties.
That wasn’t good enough for DeVico, who has said that an extra work session each month would not only give committee members more time to talk about township issues and business, it would give the public greater access to the meetings.
On Monday, Donohue and Clark agreed.
This year committee meetings will begin 5 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month, with the first hour scheduled as a work session, and the regular meeting beginning 6 p.m.
Donohue, the committee’s loan Republican, was re-elected to his third term of office in November, and on Monday he was sworn in to serve the township for another three years. His brother, Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue, administered the oath of office while his wife, Carole, held the Bible, and his daughter, Juliana Donohue, and mother, Lenore Donohue, stood by his side.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been six years since I first stepped up on this dais and took this seat as a rookie committeeman,” Donohue said. “Now I come before you as the senior member of Township Committee. I’ve learned a lot in that time about how government works and about how it doesn’t work.”
During his time on the dais, Donohue has served as committeeman, deputy mayor and mayor.
“I’ve worked for four administrators, two solicitors and three different configurations of Township Committee,” he said.
State Sen. Jeff Van Drew administered the oath to DeVico, a Democrat, as the township’s deputy mayor while DeVico's wife, Michelle, held the Bible for the ceremony.
“I didn’t come here with a prepared speech,” said DeVico, who acknowledged Donohue’s support of the extra work session each month. “I want you to know that I believe in Tim, and what he does. You’re going to see a change tonight, and I want to thank Tim for everything he’s done.”
Clark, a Democrat who is also president of the Cape May Court House Volunteer Fire Company, is entering his second term. On Monday he was unanimously selected by committee members to serve as mayor in 2018. Van Drew administered the oath of office while Clark's wife, Victoria, held the Bible.
“Going forward, Tim, Jeff and I plan to continue to work hard to make Middle Township an even better place to live, work and do business,” he said. “We have many things planned for 2018 to make our community even greater. We look forward to the redevelopment of longstanding vacant and blighted properties, and we will continue to address abandoned properties.”
Clark said that a priority for him and the other committee members is public interaction.
“We greatly value residents’ input, and have tried to make it easier for citizens to stay informed and have the opportunity to participate through offering an increased number of public meetings and educational seminars,” he said.
“We intend to hold even more events this year to hopefully engage event more residents.”