North Wildwood says thanks to Mayor Henfey

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Mayor Bill Henfey bids farewell with first tie-breaking vote

Photo by Christie Rotondo/ Mayor Bill Henfey attended his last meeting Dec. 17. Photo by Christie Rotondo/ Mayor Bill Henfey attended his last meeting Dec. 17.

NORTH WILDWOOD — After holding a municipal office in North Wildwood for 20 years, Mayor Bill Henfey attended his last council meeting as a public official Tuesday.

For the first time in his mayoral career, he was also called on to break a tie between council members’ votes at the meeting.

“It’s hard to sum up all the years, 20 years, in just a couple of minutes,” Henfey said during the council meeting. “We were going to do everything we could to make this the best town ever, and we’ve done a great job, and we’ve done a great job because we all pulled together to get it done.”

Henfey began his tenure in 1994 as councilman-at-large, a position he held for 12 years. In 2006 he ran unopposed for mayor when Aldo Palombo, who was mayor for 12 years, retired. He began his first term as mayor as North Wildwood celebrated its 100th birthday.

Since 2006, the city has completed over 75 infrastructure projects, ranging from complete street reconstruction to beach replenishment projects and completing the sea wall.

Henfey also said that the city merged departments, cut back on its total number of employees, while managing to lower crime and provide better services for citizens. The city has brought in new revenue by adding parking kiosks that accept credit cards, which has helped keep North Wildwood’s tax rate one of the lowest out of New Jersey’s shore towns, he said.

“You should always remember these days and years and how hard we worked,” Henfey said.

Council, local officials, and members of the public offered their best wishes and support to the mayor in his retirement.

Councilman-at-Large Ed Koehler said he had served on the city’s governing body alongside Henfey for the past 17 years. Nine of those years were while Henfey was a councilman himself, and eight years during Henfey’s mayoral term.

“Over the years we communicated, we realized why were elected,” Koehler said. “We were elected to serve all the people of North Wildwood, not a party, not a special interest group, but all the people, and I think that’s the thread that held Billy and I together.”

After working together for so long, Koehler said, the two have become close friends.

“I missed you when you became mayor as a councilperson, I know I’m going to miss you as mayor when you retire,” he said. “The one thing I refuse to miss out on is your friendship.”

Kevin Yecco, the city’s administrator, said that Henfey’s legacy as mayor is one for the history books.

“You will be regarded as one of the greatest leaders in the history of North Wildwood, past, present, and future,” Yecco told the mayor during the meeting. “And it is certainly because of all of your hard effort, your knowledge and your dedication to the citizens of this community.”

Patrick Rosenello, the city’s council president, won North Wildwood’s mayoral election this November. He will be sworn in as mayor Jan. 7.

“Mayor, I just have one thing to say, could you make the shoes a little smaller? Just a little smaller?” Rosenello said with a laugh. “Remember Zaberer’s used to have those giant foot prints that led you around to the side? That’s all I can think about.”

Henfey said that he was confident that Rosenello would continue to do great things for North Wildwood during his upcoming term as mayor.

“There’s no doubt in my mind as to where Patrick is going to take the city,” Henfey said. “Patrick is going to take the city greater and higher than it’s ever been.”

When the council voted to adjourn, Kelly-Ann Tolomeo, Sal Zampirri, and James Kane voted yes to close the meeting, but Koehler, David Del Conte, and Margaret “Peggy” Bishop voted no. Rosenello abstained, resulting in the first tie on the council during Henfey’s term as mayor.

Under a city council form of government in New Jersey, the mayor is called upon to vote to break a tie, in the event there is one.

City Clerk Scott Jett said that Henfey often said he wanted the opportunity to break a tie as mayor, but had never had the chance to.

“I knew it would just get the biggest smile on his face,” Jett said after the meeting.

Henfey voted to adjourn the meeting around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, after he happily announced, “I get to break a tie, I get to vote.”

He left council with one important task.

“Sometimes, you get to the top, and its harder to stay at the top than it was to get to the top,” Henfey told the council. “And that’s the one thing I’m leaving with you guys, stay on the top.”

Email Christie Rotondo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or comment on this story below.  Photo by Christie Rotondo/ Mayor Bill Henfey, right, received a standing ovation after his last meeting Dec. 17. Photo by Christie Rotondo/ Mayor Bill Henfey, right, received a standing ovation after his last meeting Dec. 17.

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