FREEHOLD – After more than a decade of service on the Borough Council, a Freehold Borough councilman is stepping down to become an assistant fire chief and eventually the chief of the Freehold Fire Department.
Councilman Jaye Sims announced his resignation from the council during a meeting on Nov. 19. He will officially resign from the council on Dec. 31. His current three-year term has one year remaining.
Leaders of the Democratic Party in Freehold Borough will soon provide the names of individuals who want to succeed Sims to the remaining council members. The council members will select one of those residents to serve during 2019. The seat held by the appointee will be on the November 2019 ballot as a full three-year term.
Sims, who has served on the council since 2006, said his departure is the result of being appointed assistant fire chief of the Freehold Fire Department. He will be sworn in to that position on Jan. 1. He said he will serve two years as the second assistant chief, two years as the first assistant chief and then two years as the chief.
During his remarks, Sims thanked his fellow council members, whom he referred to as an extended family, Mayor Nolan Higgins, Business Administrator Joseph Bellina, Borough Clerk Traci DiBenedetto and residents for their support and the work they did together during his time in office.
“I can’t thank you all enough for everything,” Sims. “It’s been fun and I’m not going to be far away if you ever need an opinion on something. I love Freehold and my love for Freehold is not going to stop. I wish you all the best.”
“It’s been great serving with you,” Councilman Michael DiBenedetto told Sims. “We’ve had good times, bad times and sad times; most of all, I would like to thank [your wife] Danielle for letting you sit up here.
“It’s going to be a little funny not having your laugh and somebody whispering in my ear, but as you close one chapter and begin another, I wish you the best. It was not an easy decision, but I feel you made the right decision and I hope you go on giving back to this town,” DiBenedetto said.
“Even though you are stepping down from the council, you are still serving our community in a very big way and a very important way for the next six years,” Councilman George Schnurr said. “I congratulate you for taking on that challenge.”
“Congratulations on being elected one of the upcoming fire chiefs,” said Councilman Kevin Kane, who has run for public office with Sims. “Thanks for all of your time. I can’t believe it’s been 12 years. The first year we ran seems like yesterday. As you mentioned, it’s a family affair, so thank you to your entire family for all your service to this mayor and council. We’ll miss you.”
“I want to thank you and wish your the best in your new service in your new capacity,” Councilman Ron Griffiths said. “I know the fire department will be in good hands when you’re chief.”
“You know how I feel about giving back to the community,” council President Sharon Shutzer said. “My mother always said you always give more than you take. You certainly have and you will continue that service. Thank you for your service. It takes a family to do this. Please give our best to your family as well.”
Sims, who has been a member of the Freehold Fire Department for 25 years, said after the meeting that as his ongoing service to the borough changes, he is prepared to assume his new role as assistant fire chief next year.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I never thought when I joined the fire department at 18 that I would have become fire chief. Most importantly, my family is behind it. It’s a family affair. My family knows being chief means having to get up from dinner if there’s an emergency.
“I really did enjoy being a council person and leaving is bittersweet,” Sims said. “When you’re in the moment, you don’t always recognize what you’ve done. Now that I can reflect on the past 12 years, I see what we accomplished on the council. And in serving my town, I hope I didn’t disappoint.”