JACKSON — The members of the Jackson Township Council have appointed Samara Porter O’Neill to an open seat on the governing body.
During the Sept. 13 meeting of the mayor and council, O’Neill’s name was placed into nomination and Township Council President Martin Flemming, Vice President Andrew Kern and Councilman Nino Borrelli voted “yes” to appoint her.
Councilman Stephen M. Chisholm Jr. was absent from the meeting.
O’Neill’s appointment will run through Dec. 31. She has succeeded former councilman Alex Sauickie III, who resigned from Jackson’s governing body on Aug. 22 as he prepared to take his seat in the state Assembly.
Sauickie was elected by Republican representatives to succeed the late Ron Dancer as a state assemblyman in New Jersey’s 12th Legislative District (municipalities in Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex and Burlington counties).
Sauickie was sworn in to his Assembly seat on Sept. 15 and will serve in the Assembly at least through the end of 2022.
He was also selected by the district’s Republican representatives to run in a Nov. 8 special election for the final year (2023) of the term Dancer was serving, as initially reported by the New Jersey Globe.
O’Neill was serving on the Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment at the time of her appointment to the Township Council. As a councilwoman, she will not be permitted to continue her service on the zoning board.
O’Neill, who works professionally in real estate, according to her Facebook page, will run for a full four-year term on the council in the Nov. 8 election. She is running on a ticket with Flemming, who is running for mayor, and Kern, who is seeking re-election to the council.
After taking her seat on the dais, O’Neill said she is “looking forward to serving the town.”
Flemming, Kern and Borrelli congratulated O’Neill on her appointment to the governing body.
Borrelli said, “I look forward to working with you for the best interests of Jackson’s residents.”
Kern said, “Samara’s volunteerism over the years, including with the chamber of commerce and charitable organizations … that’s what Samara is, someone who has already been stepping up to help the community.”
Flemming mentioned other women who have served on Jackson’s governing body and said O’Neill “is adding her name to the fabulous people who have helped the town.”
The Tri-Town News sent an email to Flemming through the municipal website, but the council president has not responded to the following questions: “Who are the residents who applied for the council appointment?” and “When and where were interviews with the candidates conducted?”
Notification of the council vacancy was announced by Flemming during the meeting in August at which the governing body accepted Sauickie’s resignation.
The municipal clerk has informed the Tri-Town News that Jackson’s township attorney is reviewing the matter and will determine if the names of the residents who applied for the appointment to the vacant council seat can be released to the public.
In other business on Sept. 13, Flemming, Kern and Borrelli voted to settle litigation that had been filed against Jackson by Mitch Leigh, trading as Leigh Realty, and LB at Jackson, LLC. The litigation concerned tax appeals for 2009-14, according to a council resolution.
O’Neill abstained from the vote.
The parties attempted to settle the litigation and had been unable to do so. In the intervening years, many of the properties involved in the matter were sold or merged, which created issues with regard to settling the litigation and applying tax credits, according to the resolution.
At this time, the plaintiff agreed to withdraw the numerous tax appeals in exchange for a $450,000 payment from the municipality. The settlement the council members approved on Sept. 13 states that Jackson will make the $450,000 payment to settle the litigation.
And, the council members voted to award a contract in the amount of $309,950 to AB Kurre Contracting Inc. for the demolition of the restaurant building on the Rova Farms property in the Cassville section of Jackson.
The township owns the historic Rova Farms property and officials have said the restaurant building is unusable.
Five bids were received on Sept. 7 from companies seeking the demolition contract. The other bids were received from Brennan Bros. Contracting, LLC ($374,000); Caravella Demolition Inc. ($467,002); Two Brothers Contracting Inc. ($490,600); and Ambient Group, LLC ($739,000; the company’s bid included a math error, but did not affect the award of the winning bid, according to municipal officials).
Officials determined AB Kurre Contracting Inc. appeared to be the lowest responsive bidder and awarded the company the contract.
Finally, the council members appointed Mary Moss to serve as Jackson’s municipal clerk. The previous clerk resigned from the position, according to a resolution. Moss was appointed as the municipal clerk for a three-year term beginning Sept. 13 at an annual salary of $97,500.