Fasano to serve first term as Freehold Township mayor; Walker elected deputy mayor

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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Maureen Fasano has been elected by her colleagues on the Township Committee to serve as the mayor of Freehold Township in 2022. This marks the first time Fasano has been selected to serve as mayor.

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 2022 reorganization meeting on Jan. 7 at the Freehold Township Senior Center.

During the meeting, incumbent committeemen Anthony Ammiano and Thomas Cook, the winners in the November 2021 municipal election, were sworn in to begin serving new three-year terms on the governing body.

Ammiano joined the Township Committee in 2001 and is the governing body’s longest-serving member. Cook joined the Township Committee in 2013.

When regular business commenced, Fasano was elected to serve as mayor for 2022. She joined the Township Committee in 2020.

Committeeman Alan Walker was elected by his colleagues to serve as deputy mayor for 2022. Walker also joined the governing body in 2020 and is serving as deputy mayor for the first time.

Walker told the News Transcript he and Fasano have been friends for decades, going back to their days as students at the Barkalow Middle School and at Freehold Township High School. They now find themselves together again, serving the community as elected officials.

Republicans hold a 5-0 majority on the Township Committee. Joining Fasano, Walker, Ammiano and Cook on the governing body is Committeeman Lester Preston.

As she began her term as mayor, Fasano said, “I am honored to represent the people of Freehold Township as mayor of a town I truly love. To be appointed mayor is a privilege I do not take lightly. In the 329 years Freehold Township has existed, there have only been four other women to have been elected to the Township Committee, with three serving as mayor.

“It is monumental to me to join this prestigious club of women leaders – Frances Mayrose, Clare Farragher, Dorothy Avallone and Barbara McMorrow – who faithfully served the residents of Freehold Township with great commitment and passion,” she said.

Discussing the accomplishments of the township’s departments, Fasano said, “Our Health Department continues to guide us through this unprecedented health crisis. Our Parks and Recreation Department continues to make our community shine. Our magnificent parks and facilities have come to represent what Freehold Township stands for.

“This past fall saw the grand opening of My Playground Two at Opatut Park, an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities and their parents. Our senior center is reopened and is planning to return to a full slate of programs for 2022.

“The Department of Public Works keeps our town pristine. Our police department continues to serve our community with professionalism and pride, preserving public safety and the law.

“Freehold Township hired seven new recruits in 2021 and we are fortunate to have another generation of committed police officers. Our volunteers in the fire department and first aid have continued to protect our residents with genuine care and concern,” she said.

Fasano noted two new employees who have come onboard.

“In August, Catherine Campbell retired as our chief financial officer after 12 years, making us all wonder if her shoes could ever be filled. We found our answer in Jeff Elsasser.

“The township also suffered an incredible loss with the passing of long-time Township Attorney Bob Munoz. Bob will always be remembered for his diligence in his pursuit of the law, his quick wit and charm, and his intent to always do the right thing.

“He will be sorely missed and is a great loss to the township. We are fortunate Andy Ball has stepped into Bob’s role without missing a step,” she said.

Regarding the township’s shared services agreements, Fasano said, “The township will offset taxpayer costs by over $1 million in revenue in the 2022 budget with over 40 shared services with area municipalities.

“Putting utility dollars to work, we accepted bids on the township’s new Gravel Hill Road water tank, which is a $4.5 million upgrade to our water system. This will ensure proper pressure and reliability throughout the township.

“We worked with Monmouth County on a $20 million upgrade to Halls Mill Road, which was partially funded through a federal grant.

“And the township designated Lone Pine Landfill as an area in need of redevelopment in an attempt to generate a beneficial reuse of the site as a solar field, putting to work a current federal Superfund site that has been dormant for decades,” she said.

The mayor concluded her comments by asking the community to be united for 2022.

“This past Sept. 11 marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The lives lost that day are forever in our hearts, as that day forever changed our community and our world.

“Mayor Cook reminded all of us of what happened the next day. That day, we came together as Americans and we stood as one. We put our differences aside. We chose to respect, love and care for each other.

“I am asking everyone to make 2022 the year we choose to do the same. We are all different. We come from different backgrounds, have different thoughts and beliefs, but we are all Americans. And we do actually share many of the same thoughts and beliefs. Let’s work together for our community. Let’s stand together as one,” Fasano said.