COLTS NECK – Township Committeeman Frank Rizzuto will serve as Colts Neck’s mayor for 2020 following his election to that position during the Jan. 4 reorganization meeting of the governing body.
In Colts Neck’s form of government, residents do not directly elect the mayor. Each January, the committee members select one person on the governing body to serve as mayor for the year. Republicans hold all five seats on the committee.
Rizzuto was sworn in as mayor by Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. In remarks to his colleagues and members of the public, he said, “I would like to thank the Township Committee and the people of Colts Neck for their vote of confidence. Thirteen years ago I moved to Colts Neck for the same reasons many others have done before me: open space, good schools and a small-town feel.
“In short order, I realized what a special place it is and I wanted to do my small part for the municipality so I joined the fire department as a fire policeman. As time went on, I became more involved with the Monmouth County Republican organization by volunteering on campaigns, manning the phones, knocking on doors and handing out fliers.
“That is where I became more acquainted with our Republican Party chairman, Shaun Golden, and our vice chairman, John Cantalupo. Without their support and guidance, I would not be here,” he said.
“(Township committeemen) J.P. Bartolomeo and Michael Viola, I could not think of three people who are more different than we are, but we work together wonderfully. We come from different backgrounds and we get the job done. Without the two of you, I would not be here,” Rizzuto told both men.
He then discussed what the members of the governing body will look to accomplish in 2020.
“The continuation of several large capital improvement projects on our municipal campus are ongoing and will need constant oversight. We are still involved in negotiating our (affordable housing) obligation … the result of which could have a significant financial impact on our town.
“Long-range plans for the development of our business district will also have a significant impact on our town in the short and long term. It isn’t a secret that Colts Neck does not have a deep pool of business ratables, therefore the tax burden falls mostly on the shoulders of residential property owners.
“The township will need to be extremely careful during this process as any development will need to be carried out so as not to take away from the open and historic look and feel of the town. Finally, we will work to keep our taxes low, support our emergency service workers and we will continue to maintain and improve our infrastructure,” Rizzuto said.
During the reorganization meeting, Sue Fitzpatrick was sworn in to begin serving her first three-year term on the Township Committee. Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon administered the oath of office to the new municipality’s newest elected official.
“It was 32 years ago that Jim and I came to Colts Neck to look around for a place to live,” Fitzpatrick said, “We looked at other communities, but we chose Colts Neck because of the beauty here of the rural countryside, the good schools, low taxes, but most importantly the commitment to preserving this country landscape,” she said.
“Every time we go somewhere and drive back home, we feel like we are back home and we appreciate it here. My children loved growing up here and now my grandchildren love coming to visit and doing the same things my children used to do, such as picking apples and pumpkins and catching frogs in our stream.
“It is a very special place and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to give back to the community I love and the community that has my heart,” Fitzpatrick said.
Committeeman Michael Viola was elected to serve as deputy mayor for 2020 and was sworn in by Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone.
Committeeman Thomas Orgo, who served as mayor during 2019, commented on the past year and said, “It was a good year. We worked with the Navy (Naval Weapons Station Earle), we worked with everybody. I would like to thank Monmouth County for shared services. … We have made Colts Neck a little bit better place this year.
“I want to thank the police department, the fire department and all of the volunteers in town, including those who serve on boards and commissions. An engaged community is a vibrant community and when you step forward to contribute, that’s what makes Colts Neck Colts Neck. I want to make sure my gratitude to all who step forward to keep Colts Neck a beautiful place to live is very much appreciated,” he said.
In other business, Bartolomeo and Viola were appointed to the Planning Board as representatives of the Township Committee. Department of Public Works Director Louis Bader was appointed to a one-year term on the board. David Kostka was appointed to a four-year term and Vito Viola was appointed to a two-year term as an alternate.
Steve Dnistrian and Kris Lukowitz were appointed to four-year terms on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Justine Buzzetta and Robert Mahoney were appointed to one-year terms on the board. John Maguire was appointed to a one-year term as an alternate and Dino Nicoletta was appointed to a two-year term as an alternate.