By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Sean Byrnes, the Middletown Township Committee‘s lone Democrat, made his final appearance behind the dais Monday night in an hour-long meeting of “mixed emotions” during which the committee recognized him with a proclamation commending his service.
But the governing body also tabled a measure on one of Byrnes’ pet projects: getting the meetings videotaped.
Although the session was Byrnes’ last, he didn’t keep quiet on the issues important to him, including videotaping of the sessions so that more residents of the widely flung township could follow the workings of government.
Still, the rest of the committee, minus the absent Steve Massel, voted to table a resolution Byrnes introduced to require videotaping for “further discussion,” Deputy Mayor Anthony Fiore said.
“People should be allowed to educate themselves with what’s going on in their town. An enlightened public, to me, is a good thing,” Byrnes said. “The tabling, I hope, means (the committee) will take it seriously.”
Byrnes also urged the committee to seek a solution to the contamination at Shadow Lake and to find a way to upgrade some of the town’s athletic fields.
At the end of the meeting, each committee member, recognizing that they have political differences with Byrnes, and at times have locked horns, thanked him for making the sacrifices it takes to be a public official. Committeewoman Pamela Brightbill told him, “I hope to see you” at meetings.
Byrnes said he hasn’t given any thought to making a return to politics.
“If I do, I don’t think it’ll be anytime soon,” he said. “I’m going to focus on my family and work.”
“I’d gladly serve another three years,” said Byrnes, who lost in a bid for a second term in November to Kevin Settembrino. “But I will have three kids in college next year, so it’s not the worst thing if I spend more time with my business and make some money.”
Another silver lining to losing this year’s election: he gets to spend more time with his family, he said.
Byrnes has spent the last 15 years steeped in public service, sitting on various boards, including the Parker Family Health Center, Red Bank RiverCenter and the Community YMCA in Red Bank, as well as serving as a minister in Lincroft. That’s in addition to running his own law firm in Red Bank.
“You need to take a break,” he said. “Sometimes I feel like my family gets gypped, so this is OK.”