Howell deputy mayor will resign from Township Council effective Nov. 6

HOWELL – Township Councilman Thomas Russo, who is serving as Howell’s deputy mayor in 2021, has announced he will step down from the governing body on Nov. 6.

Russo, who is one of three Republicans to serve on the council, made the announcement via social media Nov. 3. He was elected in November 2018 and received the most votes of any council candidate that year with a term to run from January 2019 through December 2022.

In his message he said, “As many of you already know, my personal circumstances are rapidly changing much sooner than originally anticipated. My law firm is, at this very moment, undergoing a major transition and I have been fortunate enough to have been asked to play a lead role in the process.

“In addition, in August I applied for a direct commission in the U.S. Navy Reserve and (I am) eagerly awaiting the selection board’s response. I am greatly looking forward to the prospect of serving in this new and different capacity. Serving Howell has truly been the honor of my life. Thank you for this most cherished privilege,” Russo said.

He said when he ran for office in 2018 he promised he would give the position his “all and nothing less.”

“Looking back at the past three years, all the challenges, all the hard work, I can honestly say I have lived up to that promise. Since taking office in 2019, the council has been hard at work.

“We are on pace to preserve 53 acres of open space. We grew our police department. We paved over 43 miles of township roads, with more to come this year and next year. Our park improvement plan is on pace. We lowered the tax rate this year without impacting services.

“Lastly and most importantly, we took rapid and decisive action to respond to the many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic by leading the charge on testing early on for our first responders. We started the Business Recovery Task Force to help our businesses during this difficult time,” said Russo, who chaired the task force.

“We rallied a small group of residents to deliver food and other items to homebound seniors and those in need, and through responsible budget management, (we) made sure Howell stays ahead of any public health challenge if and when it occurs,” he said.

“While it is certainly possible for me to remain on the council for my last year, doing so would break my promise (to give his all) and that is something I cannot do. The role is far too important,” Russo said.

He said he learned a lot from the experience of serving in municipal government and gained great satisfaction working for the people of Howell.

“And working with some really great people at town hall, all of our departments, from our police department to the Department of Public Works. The great work and sacrifice from these organizations is what makes Howell such a great community.

“Public service is the best-kept secret, it does so much for the community and the individual, and my hope is that in some way through my work I have inspired young people to get involved in local government.That is what my internship program was all about.

“I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to serve my community. It has been the honor of a lifetime and I will never forget it,” Russo said.

Because Russo is a Republican, representatives of the Howell Republican Party will soon select several individuals to succeed him on the Township Council and provide those names to the four sitting members of council – Democrats Theresa Berger and John Bonevich, and Republicans Evelyn O’Donnell and Pamela Richmond. The sitting council members will appoint Russo’s successor.