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Home North Brunswick Sentinel NB News North Brunswick officials reflect on how 2020 set the course for 2021

North Brunswick officials reflect on how 2020 set the course for 2021

North Brunswick officials reflect on how 2020 set the course for 2021
Ken Graulich, left to right, Dave Klisch and Jeff Dunham are sworn in to their respective positions in the North Brunswick Fire Department during North Brunswick's re-organization meeting on Jan. 1.

NORTH BRUNSWICK – 2020 was a tough year for North Brunswick Township, aside from the tragedy surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Councilman Bob Corbin, Police Director Kenneth McCormick and Senior Center employee Rosemarie Hansen passed away; Daniel Anderl, the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, was brutally murdered in town; court Administrator Sheral Rossmann retired; Business Administrator Kathyrn Monzo moved on to a different municipality; and on the last day of the year, Gerald Tamburro, the mayor of nearby Monroe Township, passed on.

However, township officials collectively said they look forward to a more prosperous 2021, as many administrators were appointed to new positions and council members were sworn in to another term.

The first Latina to join the North Brunswick Township Council, Claribel Cortes was sworn in to her first full, three-year term during the council’s reorganization meeting on Jan. 1. She had finished the term of Corbin, who passed away in March, for the remainder of 2020.

She had served on the North Brunswick Board of Education since 2017, and also served one year on the Board of Trustees for Middlesex County College.

“You’re the first Latina and that shows how much faith and confidence people have in you,” Ronald Rios, director of the Middlesex County Board of Commissioners, said during the virtual meeting. Rios was the first Latino to be elected to the council in Carteret in 1981.

“What she’s going to continue to do is be a tremendous asset,” Kevin McCabe, the chairman of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization, said about Cortes during the meeting.

Cortes said she is proud to lead the third most diverse town in New Jersey, whose 40,000 residents represent 14 countries speaking eight languages.

She said her parents arrived in the U.S. more than 50 years ago “with $5 and a heart full of dreams.” She said she has the same perseverance her parents and grandparents did to overcome obstacles.

“We are all more alike than we know,” she said, saying that everyone wants a community that thrives and future generations to reach higher heights. “Citizenship is more than just voting and paying taxes; its about engaging in your community.”

Councilman Bob Davis was sworn into his seventh term on the board, though this was the first time in 18 years Corbin wasn’t by his side.

Davis got choked up while talking about the “excellent councilman and good friend.”

“I could not be more proud than to be serving with Mac [Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack] and my fellow council people. These are representatives who, like myself, put the residents of North Brunswick first and foremost.

“I will listen to the public no matter what their political affiliation and make sure that my decisions are predicated on the feedback we get from our residents,” Davis said.

McCabe said “you can’t find a stronger advocate for a community than he,” in regards to Davis.

Councilman Carlo Socio was then elected council president for 2021. He said although the virtual meetings were quite a change during 2020, he was excited that his family from Arizona, Italy and Austria were able to log in to the meeting to see his swearing in.

“It’s sobering to think back to what 2020 was, and it really does give everyone pause to understand the gravity of what took place and how the county, the municipalities and the state had to come together, and during extraordinarily difficult times had to galvanize, and I think Middlesex County, within a model on so many different levels, had to coalesce during a crisis,” McCabe said.

Afterward, township employees were appointed to their respective positions. Ronald Gordon, of Rainone Coughlin & Minchello, was sworn in as township attorney. Justine Progebin, who worked as acting business administrator under Robert Lombard and Monzo, assumed the position of business administrator upon Monzo’s departure. Joseph Battaglia, the deputy chief of police, was administered the oath of office of acting chief, after his good friend and colleague, McCormick, passed away in September. Mark Cafferty was reappointed to the position of Emergency Management coordinator. Kim Molnar replaced Rossmann as court administrator.

Finally, the leaders of the North Brunswick Fire Department were sworn in: Township Fire Chief Jeff Dunham from Co. No. 2, 1st Assistant Chief Dave Klisch from Co. No. 3 and 2nd Assistant Chief Ken Graulich from Co. No. 1.

To view the video of the re-organization meeting, visit http://northbrunswicknj.gov


Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com