FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Thomas Cook has been elected by his colleagues on the Township Committee to lead Freehold Township as mayor for 2021.
Under Freehold Township’s form of government, the mayor and deputy mayor are not directly elected by voters. The mayor and deputy mayor are elected each January by the members of the Township Committee to serve a one-year term.
Freehold Township’s municipal government held its 2021 reorganization meeting on Jan. 5 at the South Gate Manor banquet facility where social distancing protocols were observed during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
At the reorganization meeting, incumbent committeemen Lester Preston and Alan Walker, the winners in the November municipal election, were sworn in to begin serving three-year terms on the governing body.
Preston joined the Township Committee in 2015 and Walker joined the governing body in 2020 to fill an unexpired term.
Cook, who joined the Township Committee in 2013, will serve as mayor for the second time, having previously held the position in 2015. He served as deputy mayor in 2018 and 2020.
“The biggest challenge (this year) will be working to keep our residents and staff protected as much as possible from COVID-19, while continuing to serve the residents in the same manner to which they are accustomed,” Cook said after the meeting.
“This year will be especially challenging with the logistical and perceptive barriers of getting residents vaccinated.
“This will be a challenging year as we hopefully see some relief economically as the Governor hopefully is able to ease some of the restrictions and businesses are able to return to profitability.
“Finally, this coming year will also see the start of some major pieces of development in our commercial properties, which are manufacturing, warehousing and light industrial. Additionally, residential development, both part of and in addition to our affordable housing settlement, will also begin to make its way through the Planning Board process,” Cook said.
Anthony Ammiano, who is the longest-serving member of the governing body, having joined in 2001, was elected by his colleagues to serve as deputy mayor for 2021.
Ammiano previously served as mayor in 2006, 2012 and 2018.
Republicans hold a 5-0 majority on the Township Committee. Joining Cook, Ammiano, Preston and Walker on the governing body is Committeewoman Maureen Fasano.