By KATHY CHANG
WOODBRIDGE — Verbhadra N. Patel has become the first elected councilman of South Asian descent to sit on the Township Council.
Patel, with family by his side, was sworn in at a reorganization meeting by Township Clerk John Mitch on Jan. 3.
He was first appointed by the Township Council to fill the remainder of the Ward 4 council seat, which was held for over a decade by James Major, who stepped down in August.
Patel, who is a 31-year Iselin resident, collected the most votes in the November election over two challengers for his first elected seat. He thanked his fellow council members and administration for their support.
“I was here for four months and I had to do a lot of learning,” said Patel. “Thank you all for being there when I had some questions.”
Patel said Woodbridge Township has a lot of demands and necessities.
“I want to keep the unity and diversity,” he said adding that he will be available around the clock for the constituents of Ward 4.
Mayor John E. McCormac said Patel is involved with many charities and organizations.
“I think he’s going to be a great asset to the town,” he said.
Ward 2 Councilman Richard Dalina, who has served on the Township Council for 24 years, was nominated to serve as council president.
Councilman-at-Large Gregg Ficarra nominated Dalina.
“He’s been a leader in the township for a long time along with his late dad [Stephen “Pete” Dalina, who served as a former Woodbridge Township councilman and was serving as a Middlesex County freeholder before he died in 2013],” he said.
Dalina thanked his fellow council members and the administration for their support.
“It’s not my first time around the block,” he said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues, the administration and, of course, to the residents of the township, I will serve to the best of my ability.”
This will be Dalina’s third time as council president. His mother, Eleanor, his wife, Carol, and his children were on hand as he was sworn in.
Ward 5 Councilwoman Debbie Meehan was nominated to serve as council vice president.
“I look forward to working with the council and administration,” she said.
At the meeting, McCormac also recognized the retirement of longtime Township Engineer Scott Thompson. He said that Michael Gelin has taken his place.
“We were fortunate to [replace] one good, solid Colonia guy with another Colonia guy,” he said, adding that Gelin has a great deal of knowledge on sewer infrastructure.