Sandom, Sandahl are Hopewell Township leaders

Sandom landed mayor’s post in a 3-2 committee vote during Monday’s reorganization

By John Tredrea
   Democrat Vanessa Sandom is the new mayor of Hopewell Township.
   Ms. Sandom landed the post in a 3-2 Township Committee vote during township government’s annual reorganization meeting Monday night.
   Democrat David Sandahl, elected to the committee in November, took the oath of office during the meeting, and was also unanimously elected deputy mayor by his fellow committee members.
   Voting in favor of Ms. Sandom as mayor were Republican Arlene Kemp, who nominated her, Mr. Sandahl and Ms. Sandom herself. Voting no were Democrats Jon Edwards and Marylou Ferrara, who both objected to having been excluded from setting the agenda for Monday night’s meeting.
   Mr. Edwards and Ms. Ferrara have disagreed with Ms. Kemp and Ms. Sandom on a number of issues during the past year, among them the idea of building a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) in the Reed Road area. Ms. Sandom and Ms. Kemp, despite their different political parties, were elected as a slate — with the support of a bipartisan group, Coalition for Good Government — in November 2001.
   Ms. Sandom, who has been a committeewoman since October 2001 when she was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Kathy’s Bird’s resignation, was nominated for mayor by Ms. Kemp. There were no other nominations. Ms. Kemp said it was "an honor and privilege" to nominate Ms. Sandom, who has, Ms. Kemp said, "shown herself to be one of the most incredibly intelligent and compassionate people I’ve ever known … a true leader."
   In a brief address after she was sworn in, Ms. Sandom said: "I am honored and humbled and a little nervous" about being mayor. "I promise to do everything I possibly can to live up to your expectations."
   Major issues facing the township, the mayor said, include the TND, the need to complete the township’s wastewater management plan and the recreation, open space and traffic components of the township’s Master Plan.
   Explaining his no vote, Mr. Edwards said he and Ms. Ferrara "had been excluded" from preparatory talks "on everything on the agenda tonight." Ms. Sandom "didn’t seek our views," he said, thus continuing what he termed "a disturbing pattern of evasiveness" on her part.
   Ms. Ferrara made similar comments, saying that she had not received a copy of Monday night’s agenda until Friday and that, like Mr. Edwards, she had been given no opportunity to help set the agenda, which included the appointment of a new township attorney (see separate story). "To exclude two members of the committee in this way contravenes communication and openness," Ms. Ferrara said.
   Mr. Sandahl was nominated for deputy mayor by Ms. Sandom, who said he did an exemplary job of leading the Dublin Road Task Force. At the recommendation of the task force, sidewalks are being placed on the northern end of Dublin Road. Ms. Sandom said she and Mr. Sandahl "share a vision of how the township should conduct business."
   After being sworn in, Mr. Sandahl said he "was excited and humbled." He vowed to "represent all the people … to make decisions on their behalf, for the common good."
   Mr. Sandahl added: "We should be guided by three principles: partnership, preparation and process."
   He vowed to "work to see that all relevant professional work (legal, engineering) is done before anything is voted on by this committee."