By KATHY CHANG
WOODBRIDGE — The Township Council has appointed Verbhadra N. Patel to fill long-time Ward 4 Councilman James Major’s seat until Nov. 8.
An emotional Major announced that he was stepping down from the council effective immediately at the council’s meeting on Aug. 9. He said he has accepted a position at the Middlesex County Utility Authority.
“This is bittersweet for me because I’m certainly excited about this new opportunity but I’m sad to leave the council and the work that has become my passion,” he said. “It has been my privilege and my pleasure to serve the constituents of the Fourth Ward. The path has been challenging with a lot of twists and turns, obstacles and booby traps, but it’s very satisfying to be able to help people to solve their problems and to make improvements in our community.”
Major said it was 11 and a half years ago when he began his council journey with his “Vision 20-20” campaign.
“During my initial months on council, I visited all of the households in Iselin and Menlo Park Terrace that would open the door for me,” he said. “I met the residents, I listened to their concerns, I developed a relationship where I could and I had them complete a questionnaire that listed their priorities and their concerns. This information helped me to shape my vision. These goals and objectives served as my playbook while I was on the council.”
Major said with the strong commitment from Mayor John McCormac and his administration, they advanced many quality-of-life initiatives from cracking down on illegal and overcrowded housing and property maintenance improvements to increased parking in the Oak Tree Road area, traffic improvements and miles and miles of resurfacing in the neighborhoods.
Major thanked his constituents, the council and his family for their support. He said his new priority list will include a decade of deferred maintenance on his house and fishing.
Mayor McCormac said Major’s engineering background was a great asset to the administration and hoped Major would stay involved to help with a number of projects that are in the works.
Patel was chosen from three names the Democratic Party submitted to the council. The other two names who were suggested were Janice Kastner and Daniel Osborne.
During the November election, voters will get a chance to elect someone to serve Major’s unexpired term, which will end Dec. 31, 2017. Both parties and Independents can run in November.