Grbelja joins Millstone committee, chosen mayor

Republicans Elias Abilheira and Nancy Grbelja join the Millstone Township Committee.

By: Sarah Winkelman
   MILLSTONE — Republican newcomers Elias Abilheira and Nancy Grbelja took the oath of office at the Township Committee’s annual reorganization meeting Jan. 1, giving the Republicans a 3-2 edge on the committee.
   Ms. Grbelja, 48, was selected by her colleagues to serve as the township’s mayor in 2004. Republican Committeeman John Pfefferkorn was chosen as the deputy mayor.
   Under the township committee form of government, the committee annually selects the mayor from among its members. The mayor has few executive powers, primarily serving as chairperson for the committee.
   The swearing-in ceremony for the new council members was conducted by Municipal Judge Debra Gelson.
   Ms. Grbelja was nominated to serve as mayor by Mr. Pfefferkorn. Also voting in favor of her selection as mayor were Mr. Abilheira and Democrat Committeeman Chet Halka. Former mayor Bill Nurko, a Democrat, abstained, saying that while Ms. Grbelja was "an excellent person," he had not discussed the issue with fellow committee members prior to her nomination.
   Ms. Grbelja and Mr. Abilheira had promised residents they would be ready to get down to business at the Jan. 1 meeting, and they kept their word. They came to the first meeting of 2004 with six proposed ordinances, concerning everything from "pay-to-play" campaign financing reform to storm water management.
   Because the rest of the committee had no chance to review the ordinances before the meeting, all six were tabled until the Jan. 7 meeting, when they were expected to be discussed and formally introduced.
   At the Jan. 1 meeting Mr. Nurko wished everyone a happy new year and said he had enjoyed being mayor in 2003.
   "It was a very challenging and rewarding year," he said. "I wish the new mayor all the best and I will continue to do my part to support this community and help move Millstone forward to bigger and better things."
   Mr. Halka said he hoped the five members of the Township Committee could work well together in 2004.
   Mr. Abilheira congratulated Mayor Grbelja and agreed with Mr. Halka’s statement calling for bipartisan cooperation.
   "We need to set an example for the residents, he said. "We have a public responsibility. "Today is … a new day for Millstone. I hope that everyone, Democrats and Republicans, farmers and builders will work together for the town we love."
   Mr. Pfefferkorn also wished Mayor Grbelja well in her new post and thanked Mr. Nurko for serving as mayor.
   "The mayorship is a thankless job at times," he said. "You take a lot of heat and you have to volunteer a lot of your time."
   He also warned residents that the committee could not perform magic in the coming year.
   "There is only so much we can do legislatively," he said. "It will take a town to make changes. Let’s make 2004 our year and move forward with cooperation and support from residents and the committee alike."
   In addition to selecting a mayor and deputy mayor, the committee reappointed several professional staff members, including Duane Davison as township attorney; William E. Antonidea, auditor; Richard Kelly, township prosecutor; and Mark Tarantino, public defender.