Boards reorganize to begin 2022

Amidst the holiday season, the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and winter weather, municipal governing bodies and school boards in the area began to reorganize for 2022.

North Brunswick Township, which typically holds its first meeting of the year on New Year’s Day, met virtually on Jan. 3.

Cologero “Carlo” Socio received 6,356 votes and Dr. William Lopez received 6,313 votes in the Nov. 2 election to retain their seats on the Township Council. They will serve their eighth and second full terms, respectively.

Rajesh Mehta received 6,329 votes and will remain on the council to serve a two-year unexpired term.

The council is all Democratic.

Socio said that over the years, he has gained pounds and gray hairs – and has even lost some hair – but most importantly, he has gained a beautiful family.

“And we look at our family and we count these as our accomplishments,” he said after being sworn in for another term.

He said life is a series of tests and since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in February 2020 everyone has had to change their thought process and the way they go about business.

“We look to come out of this test and view it as an accomplishment and come out stronger than ever,” he said.

He said he looks forward to being part of the rebirth and re-emerging “to see our town continue to develop and flourish into the thriving community I grew up in and my kids are growing up in and the community I am proud of.”

Lopez mentioned his daughter, who has had to adapt to virtual learning and other changes while in school, calling her resilient.

“I think what hasn’t changed, and I think what we can see within the town, is resiliency,” Lopez said. “I’m happy to help and be part of such a great town and a town that is constantly striving to change with the times.”

Mehta, after taking his oath of office, said, “I can assure everyone I will do whatever I can for the good of the people, the good of the town.”

After the oaths of office were administered, Socio, who was the council president in 2021, nominated longtime Councilman Bob Davis for the position of council president, which was seconded by Councilman Ralph Andrews.

Davis was unanimously elected as council president for 2022.

Davis, who is now in his 20th year on the council, said the last two years were the toughest years past council presidents have faced, and he said Socio and Andrews have both done “a heck of a job.”

Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack then began a “very important time” of the reorganization meeting, which is appointing the fire department chiefs for the year.

“It’s just impossible to state how critically important the fire companies – all the volunteers across the board – but our firemen are. I know this year, working with Ken Graulich as chief, has been a very rewarding experience,” Womack said.

Dave Klisch, of North Brunswick Volunteer Fire Co. No. 3, will serve as township fire chief. Kenneth Graulich, from Company 1, will be the first assistant chief. Jeffrey Dunham, from Company 2, will be the second assistant chief.

Thomas Lettieri will continue in his position as chief of the Bureau of Fire Prevention.

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The North Brunswick Board of Education reorganized on Jan. 5.

During the general election on Nov. 2, from the 29,330 registered voters in North Brunswick, 11,367 votes were cast.

For the three three-year terms that were available, Stephen Wen received 4,057 votes, Paragi Patel received 3,849 votes and David Brockman received 3,351 votes.

No resident filed a nominating petition to run for a one-year unexpired term on the board. During the election, 110 write-in votes were cast for that term. Janell Zulick received 10 write-in votes and won the one-year term.

Longtime board members Gloria Gonzalez and Anthony Brooks did not seek re-election.

Upon leaving after more than eight years on the board, Brooks said, “We accomplished a great deal. We endured a lot … because we came together as a team. … I’m excited for the children and the town of North Brunswick.”

For board president, Elesia James nominated Barry Duran Harris, who was subsequently elected to the position.

For board vice president, Hayley Toth nominated David Brockman, who was subsequently elected to the position.

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In South Brunswick, Board of Education incumbents Barry Nathanson received 4,337 votes and Lisa M. Rodgers received 4,103 votes.

Newcomer Deepa Karthik received 3,532 votes, defeating longtime board member Stephen Parker.

Karthik thanked the community for the opportunity to serve. She said she believes in integrity and honesty.

“I hope we all work together as a team,” she said. “I look forward to contributing to our community.”

For the election of board president, there was some disagreement among the board members.

Lisa Rodgers nominated Ray Kuehner for the position of board president. Her nomination of Kuehner was supported by Joseph Scaletti, Nathanson, Kuehner and herself. The nomination of Kuehner was opposed by Karthik, Mike Mitchell, Raja Krishna, Joyce Mehta and Dr. Smitha Raj. The 5-4 vote defeated the nomination of Kuehner.

Mitchell then nominated Mehta for the position of board president. His nomination of Mehta was supported by Karthik, Krishna, Raj, Mehta and himself. The nomination of Mehta was opposed by Kuehner, Rodgers, Scaletti and Nathanson. The 5-4 vote gave the board presidency to Mehta for 2022.

Mehta has served two terms on the school board, is chair of the Policy Committee, is a delegate for the New Jersey School Boards Association, is liaison to the South Brunswick Commission on Women, and is part of the Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse.

Mitchell said Mehta has a shared vision for the success of the school district.

“I will continue to do my very, very best as president of the Board of Education with my fellow team members,” she said.

As her first order of business, Mehta asked for a nomination for vice president.

Krishna nominated Mitchell, saying that in just his first year on the board, Mitchell has “made strides in providing for students and staff of the South Brunswick community.”

Mitchell is the vice chair of the Elections Committee for the Middlesex County School Boards Association and attended meetings for the delegate assembly and legislative committee.

Mitchell’s nomination for the position of vice president was supported by Karthik, Krishna, Mehta, Raj, Nathanson and Mitchell, and opposed by Kuehner, Rodgers and Scaletti. The 6-3 vote gave the board vice president’s position to Mitchell for 2022.

Mitchell did not comment during the meeting.

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The South Brunswick Township Council was set to reorganize on Jan. 11. There was no municipal election held in 2021.

On the agenda for the Jan. 11 meeting is the reappointment of Joseph Camarota as deputy mayor for 2022.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.