A night of firsts: Spotswood council swears in first female mayor, first Black councilwoman, youngest councilman

Marylin Israel, left to right, Edward Lesko and Mayor Jackie Palmer PHOTO COURTESY OF MARYLIN ISRAEL
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Marylin Israel, left to right, Edward Lesko and Mayor Jackie Palmer PHOTO COURTESY OF MARYLIN ISRAEL

SPOTSWOOD–Starting off the year by making local history, newly elected Mayor Jackie Palmer was sworn into office, making her the Borough of Spotswood’s first female mayor.

Borough Clerk Patricia DeStefano administered the oath of office to Palmer, with her family by her side, during the swearing-in ceremony in the municipal building’s courtroom on Jan. 6.

More than 45 residents attended the swearing-in ceremony and reorganization meeting virtually via video conference; however, some residents did attend the meeting in person.

“I just want to say that I am really grateful and thankful to our residents for electing me for this four-year term. I am up for the challenge and excited to get to work. I want to welcome Councilman Edward Lesko and Councilwoman Marylin Israel to the dais, and wish them the best of luck in their next four years as well,” Palmer said. “Council President Ted Ricci, I am looking very much forward to working with you, and Councilman Charlie Spicuzzo and Councilman Larry Kraemer as well. So thank you, and I can’t wait to get to work.”

Filled with a night of firsts, DeStefano also swore in Lesko, 23, who has become the youngest person appointed to the Borough Council.

“My first job was actually in Spotswood Junior High School where I worked at MJ’s Restaurant. … I started at Immaculate Conception school. Then after second grade, I went over to the public schools here in town where I believe I received a stellar education. From there, got my associate’s [degree] from Middlesex County College in two years in business; I ditched that, then [studied] political science in two years at Rutgers University.”

Right now working part-time, Lesko said he was part of a Congressional race that ended in November.

“I’m just grateful for the town to my family, all my supporters that helped me get this far. I look forward to working with the council, the mayor and getting to see many new faces and new people,” Lesko said.

Continuing the borough’s historic swearing-in ceremony, DeStefano also swore in Israel, the borough’s first Black American woman appointed to the council.

“Tonight I would like to thank the Spotswood residents for electing me. As a new councilwoman, I am honored and humbled to represent our great town as the first Black American female ever elected to the council,” Israel said. “This is a historic moment for me and first as well and I’m looking forward to working with the other council members and the new mayor to improve the town. I know 2020 has been hard on all of us, but we pulled through. I know with a newly elected office you’re going to face challenges, but we can get through it.

“As we go into this new year, we will take what we have learned last year and we will continue moving forward. In closing, I want to thank the Spotswood residents again for the privilege and the opportunity to serve our community. I can assure you, I will do my absolute best to make Spotswood a wonderful place to live. Together, we will continue to keep our town beautiful, well-rested and a safe place. A place we can call home and be proud of,” she said.

Once the swearing-in ceremony concluded, the council nominated and appointed Ricci as council president.

Ricci said he welcomes the borough’s newest appointed officials and looks forward to working with Palmer, Israel and Lesko.

“I’d like to welcome the new council members and Palmer. We will have arguments, but we’ll work through them for the benefit of the town. That’s what it’s all about,” Ricci said.

Spicuzzo said, “I just wanted to say congratulations to new council members, including Lesko. I’ve been in this town for 43 years out of my 44. so I know what it’s like to be here. My first job was actually the old Spotswood pharmacy. So it’s nice to see someone your age and young getting involved. … Israel, we’ve been friends a long time, with your bubbly personality I just want to give you a hug and I look forward to working with you also. [Palmer] we’re going to work good together. We might have our disagreements and stuff, but we’ll work through it and we’ll make it work for the town.”

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.