By JOHN T. WARD
Ben Lucarelli became Fair Haven’s new mayor Monday night on a quick and unanimous vote by his colleagues on the borough council.
He was immediately sworn into office to succeed former Mayor Mike Halfacre, who resigned in January to take a job in the Christie Administration as head of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control .
Uncertainty remained, however, about just when Lucarelli’s mayoralty ends.
On a nomination motion by Councilman Bob Marchese, the council, including Lucarelli, voted unanimously to install Lucarelli as mayor. Councilman Jerome Koch was absent at the special meeting, called solely for the purpose of filling the mayor’s seat.
When Lucarelli’s term ends was unclear, however. Though the borough had advertised that the purpose of the meeting was to appoint a mayor through the end of 2012, Attorney Sal Alfieri said the appointment may only be effective through the end of the next general election, on November 6. He said he would research the question.
The local Republican Committee earlier this month nominated Lucarelli and two others Council President Jon Peters and former Council President Andrew Trocchia to succeed Halfacre. Trocchia’s name never came up Monday night, and the meeting opened with Peters saying that his job, as an assistant professor of finance at the College of Staten Island, would make it difficult for him to serve.
Lucarelli, 50, joined the council in early 2009 as a term-completer after Tom Gilmour resigned, and was in the third year of his three-year term as elected member of the all-GOP governing body.
He jokes that he grew up “on the mean streets of Rumson,” and now owns a property management firm with an office in downtown Red Bank.
Lucarelli said his priorities would be to continue Halfacre’s focus on cutting expenses and taxes, and to enact amendments to the borough’s controversial tree-protection law that would be “much fairer to the residents” who want to build while preventing clear-cutting of trees.