Erik Yngstrom embraces his mother, Yvonne Yngstrom, after giving his oath as councilman. Below, Kathy Horgan began her fourth term on the council and was elected its president. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
With the addition of political newcomer Erik Yngstrom to the governing body, the Democrats now share 3-3 parity with the GOP on the council. But with the support of three-term Mayor Pasquale Menna as the tiebreaker to any potential deadlock, the Democrats wasted no time in doling out key jobs to partisans.
• Councilwoman Kathy Horgan was was sworn into her fourth three-year term and elected council president, a largely ceremonial post in which she succeeds Cindy Burnham, a one-term Republican-turned-independent who came in fifth in November’s race for two council seats.
• Yngstrom (pronounced YING-strom), a 31-year-old zoning board member, was also sworn into the council, taking the chair formerly used by Burnham.
• Greg Cannon, a 33-year-old third-term councilman in Aberdeen, was appointed borough attorney. He also serves as borough attorney in Allentown.
Cannon replaces Jean Cipriani, a lawyer with a Toms River firm headed by the chairman of the Ocean County GOP. His father, Michael Cannon, served as councilman in Matawan, where Menna was once borough attorney.
• Lake Como Mayor Brian Wilton was named prosecutor, replacing longtime jobholder James Butler, whose removal was noted by Republican Councilman Mark Taylor.
“Jimmy Butler served in this borough for 14 years,” Taylor said. “He has a stellar reputation. Everybody speaks highly of him. I just want to put that on the record.”
Menna did not explain why Butler was replaced, instead telling Taylor that the appointments could be held for another meeting.
“We don’t intend to make it a spectacle,” Taylor replied.
“Mr. Wilton is also eminently qualified,” Menna said. “But I really think the council’s pleasure is to go in another direction.”
“It’s not a reflection of Jimmy Butler’s capabilities,” said Horgan. ” But we did want to have a new face.”
• William Himelman, who Menna said is the longest-serving municipal court judge in New Jersey history, was reappointed to his job on bench. Kevin Wigenton was kept on as public defender.
• Greg Valesi of CME Associates, the firm that’s guiding the council on the path to a possible parking garage on the White Street lot, was named borough engineer.
• The firm of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann was named redevelopment attorney.
• Borough Administrator/fire marshal/purchasing agent Stanley Sickels, who recently announced he will retire at the end of 2017, retained his jobs. He was absent, attending the Rose Bowl, in which his son, Garrett, was playing for Penn State.
Here’s the full appointment list.
A year ago, with the arrival on council of Taylor and Mike Whelan, the GOP had a 4-2 GOP majority — its first since 1989. But that was eroded when Burham was dropped from the GOP ticket last spring, before Horgan and Yngstrom won their races.
Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, a Republican, told redbankgreen that her party was not consulted on the appointments. Instead, following the final council meeting of 2016 last week, Menna and Horgan took her aside to inform her who the appointees would be, she said.
“I thought that there would be some discussion,” she said. “It’s very disappointing.”
Retired police captain Pete DeFazio was sworn in as fire chief for the third time, having held that one year post in 1987 and 1993. Stu Jensen and Wayne Hartman, who served as chief in 1995, were sworn in as second- and third in command, respectively.