Kern takes the helm of Somers Point council

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Newly elected Somers Point City Council President Maureen Kern will run the meetings for 2013. Newly elected Somers Point City Council President Maureen Kern will run the meetings for 2013.

SOMERS POINT – The family name Kern invokes a legacy of civic pride and volunteerism here, and Maureen Kern is no exception.
Kern was appointed City Council president at the governing body’s reorganization meeting Friday, Jan. 4 in council chambers. She succeeds fellow Republican Sean McGuigan, who declined to seek reappointment after serving three years as council president.

“I’m very much looking forward to it,” said Kern, who is beginning her second term on council. “It’s nice to go to another level, and we’ve got a great support system here. This is just a fabulous council.”

Somers Point has a mayor-council form of government with seven council members who select a council president each year to preside over meetings. Kern’s appointment was unanimous.

“It was just time for me to give someone else a chance,” said McGuigan, who nominated Kern for the position. “Obviously Maureen is very capable, and she has the full support of council, so it will be a seamless transition. As you can see, she’s already an old pro at it.”

The reorganization meeting was packed with proclamations and resolutions for the new year, and Kern handled the procedural intricacies with a calm but forceful voice. She said she can count on the professional expertise of her fellow council members to smooth out any rough edges.

“How fortunate can you be?” she said. “We have an attorney (Tom Smith), we have an engineer (McGuigan), a past public works superintendent (Howard Dill) … You just go down the line, from businessmen to electricians … and you see how much support we have from the community. That’s really what it’s about. So much of what we do is based on the volunteers that we have.”

Kern’s father, Lawrence “Bud” Kern, expended countless volunteer hours in service to his community.

A former chairman of the Recreation Commission and president of the Little League, Bud Kern was instrumental in the development of recreation facilities and programs in here. It was his idea to have an end-of-summer community picnic, which evolved into the present-day Good Old Days festival.

Proceeds from the festival and the annual Bud Kern 5K Run benefit a memorial trust fund in his name that awards scholarships to graduating high school students who have demonstrated community spirit and pride. A park and athletic fields on Marks Road are named in his honor.
“He was a very humble person,” Maureen Kern said of her father, who died at a young age in 1952. “And he always knew that it wasn’t just him. As much as people wanted to say things about him, you can’t do it alone.

“He did a lot for this town. Recreation was very big in his heart. He was just a great example for people to live by, and I feel an allegiance to that as well.”

If the past year is any indication, Kern will preside over a council that will face numerous challenges in 2013. Two major storms caused extensive damage to both public and private property, and tested the limits of the town’s emergency services.

A required property revaluation and repairs from storm damage at Kennedy Park and the Municipal Beach will complicate this year’s budget and the city’s efforts to minimize the tax burden on residents.

“There are always going to be a lot of challenges moving forward, with the current economic climate,” Kern said. “We have faced them this year, and we’ve become better for them. Every time something has happened, be it the storms or whatever, we get together, and we make sure that the next time we’ll be even more prepared.

“We’re also going to rely on our committees. We’re very fortunate to have the people that we have, because we can put them where their expertise is needed.”

Kern, the lone female on council, became the fourth “madam council president” in the area, joining Lisa Brown in Northfield, Donna Taylor in Linwood, and Judy Ward in Pleasantville.
Also sworn in at the reorganization meeting after being re-elected for new three-year terms were Councilmen Carl D’Adamo, Howard Dill and Tom Smith.

D’Adamo, the lone Democrat on council, defeated Councilman Ralph Triboletti for the at-large council seat, while Dill and Smith ran unopposed for seats in the 2nd and 1st Wards, respectively.

“It’s very important to mention our volunteers, our fire departments, our city workers,” D’Adamo said in his remarks after being sworn in. “There are so many groups out there that make our jobs so much easier and make this city a great place to live.”

The council also reappointed James Franklin as city solicitor and Greg Schneider as city engineer, among other appointments for the new year.

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