WOODBRIDGE – The loss of Ward 1 Councilwoman Nancy Bader-Drumm was heavy on the minds of the Township Council as they reorganized.
“Our team is not as strong today as it was just days ago because we lost a cherished and valuable teammate,” Mayor John E. McCormac said.
Bader-Drumm was set to be sworn in to her third term along with her fellow council members on Jan. 4.
The councilwoman, who battled a nine-month “courageous fight” with cancer, passed away at her home with her family by her side on Jan. 2. She was 62.
Many had to compose themselves as they remembered their fellow council member and friend.
“It’s a sorrowful time with the passing of one of our own,” Ward 2 Councilman Howie Bauer said. “[Nancy was] a beautiful soul, full of love, laughter and life.”
Councilman-at-Large Gregg Ficarra said they “lost a friend, but heaven gained an angel.”
Councilman-at-Large Brian Small said Bader-Drumm was “a pillar” for Woodbridge Township.
“We all did better because of her dedication to Woodbridge,” he said. “She was a friend and a colleague. Long before she was on the council, I knew how involved she was with this community and how much she cared about this township. We had great conversations this year and I will cherish them forever.”
Councilwoman-at-Large Lizbeth DeJesus said Bader-Drumm was always the first to offer encouragement and support with “go girl, we got this.”
“Her smile and her laugh were as big as her heart,” she said. “I first met Nancy as my councilwoman. We had a concern and we mentioned it to her. Nancy being Nancy showed up at my house. She truly was a public servant who loved doing the best for the residents in Ward 1. She truly, truly wanted to do her best to help everyone.”
Ward 3 Councilman Cory Spillar said the very first thing he did on council was the result of Bader-Drumm reaching out to him on an issue.
“She was just always so helpful,” he said. “I had the pleasure to know her long before I sat up here as fire official and she was with the [Woodbridge Metropolitan] Chamber of Commerce. It was always a pleasure to see her, speak with her at all the businesses.”
Ward 5 Councilwoman Debbie Meehan said she and Bader-Drumm started on the council together eight years ago.
“She was one of my best friends and I’m going to dearly miss her,” she said. “She loved this township so much and worked so hard for every single person and I will truly miss my friend.”
Councilman-at-Large Kyle Anderson read an email he sent out after the passing of Bader-Drumm.
“I’ve known Nancy long before either one of us were in politics,” he said. “Our children were in middle and high school together. Throughout her battle, Nancy would send me text messages that she was enjoying watching my boys play sports and thrilled that they were attending her alma mater.”
Anderson said he’ll always remember Bader-Drumm willing to learn more about the social issues that the community has faced over the last few years.
“She called me on several occasions, and she asked me to just understand some things,” he said. “When I think of public servants, I think of someone like Nancy. Someone you could go to for assistance and when she didn’t have the answer, she would do her best to get you an answer.”
Ward 4 Councilman Virbhadra Patel said Bader-Drumm was a great mentor.
“I still remember six years ago [during] my first council meeting, she saw me kind of nervous,” he said. “She took me to the side and explained to me the process. She gave me so much support.”
Patel added Bader-Drumm also attended many Indian events in his ward.
During the meeting, Bauer, Meehan, Spillar, and Patel were sworn into their respective wards. Bauer begins his second term, while Meehan, Spillar and Patel begin their third terms.
Bauer was nominated to serve as council president and Ficarra was nominated to serve as council vice president.
Ward 1 seat
The Township Council has until Feb. 1 to select a replacement for Bader-Drumm’s seat, according to Township Clerk John Mitch.
Since Bader-Drumm was a Democrat, the Woodbridge Democratic Organization will submit three nominees for selection by Jan. 17. Mitch said the council could select a nominee at the next council meeting on Jan. 18, but has until the meeting on Feb. 1 to make a selection.