Year of ‘cooperation’ foreseen by new mayor

Steven Sireci Jr. to lead all-GOP committee

By:Roger Alvarado
   A new era in local politics was ushered in when the all-Republican Township Committee took over the reins of municipal government during Tuesday’s reorganization meeting.
   As expected, the committee unanimously elected Dr. Steven N. Sireci Jr. to a one-year term as mayor.
   "I look forward to the challenges and the opportunities that this year will present to do many good and necessary things for our township," Mayor Sireci said.
   Mayor Sireci cited his father, Steven Sireci Sr.’s 38 years of public service in municipal government as his motivation to serve the public.
   "That’s what I got into this to do, as did my father before me," he said. "It’s the same motivation I had for becoming a physician — to make things better. There’s no other reason to be here."
   Mayor Sireci, 44, a medical radiology specialist and six-year resident of Rohill Road, was elected to the Township Committee in November 2002 and appointed deputy mayor in 2003 when the Republicans held a 3-2 majority.
   Committeeman Tony Gwiazdowski held the mayor’s job last year. Under the committee form of government, the committee selects a mayor from among itself at its annual reorganization meeting each January.
   Mayor Sireci sharply rebuked last year’s Township Committee for being too partisan and said that this year, the five Republican committee members will work together.
   "I especially look forward to working in an atmosphere of cooperation, consultation and constructive dialogue for the public good, rather than destructive grandstanding and partisan rhetoric for political advantage," Mayor Sireci said. "A municipal government does not have enough resources to wage political civil war against itself and get much of anything done for its people.
   "Last year was proof of that, if you needed any," he added. "This year must and will be different."
   Mayor Sireci outlined his goals for 2004.
   "I look forward to the fiscal challenges that face our township, to maximize economy, to spend effectively and most importantly to seek every means to bring new positive ratables into Hillsborough to ease the tax burden our residents bear," Mayor Sireci said. "Property taxes are a problem throughout this state, but they’re a worse problem in places that are poorer in business. We need to make Hillsborough a great place for business.
   "We can only squeeze so much blood from a stone," he added. "We need to bring in more of the lifeblood of our economy — business."
   Newly elected Committeemen Carl Suraci and Bob Wagner were sworn in to begin their three-year terms on the committee, replacing Democrats Sonya Martin and Dr. Joseph Tricarico.
   Committeeman Wagner was unanimously elected deputy mayor.
   Among their goals for the new year, both stressed the importance of delivering the municipal budget on time, working diligently to ensure that the Hillsborough Bypass project remains on track, and seeing to it that the mercury currently stored in a depot along Route 206 is not permanently housed there.
   Mr. Suraci addressed criticism that the all-Republican committee might address all issues before it in a partisan fashion.
   "I don’t believe we are five cookie-cutter politicians," he said. "I expect there will be many lively debates."
   During the meeting the committee formally accepted the resignation of Township Clerk Ann Marie McCarthy, who left her post to take a similar one in Franklin Township.
   Deputy Clerk Anne Marie Fuccello has taken over the clerk’s duties. She will retain her deputy title until she is officially licensed to become clerk. Ms. Fuccello is currently enrolled in courses at Rutgers University and hopes to become licensed as township clerk by late 2005..
   After the meeting Deputy Mayor Wagner talked about what’s ahead and why he doesn’t feel that stepping into the deputy mayor’s chair is too daunting of a task.
   "It’s exciting and there is a lot to delve into in order to really be settled into the business of the issues at hand that need to be addressed," he said. "If you think too much you start to doubt and question.
   "It’s better to go in head first," he said. "I have a good support system and I’ve already been meeting with the department heads to get the information I need to in order to do the job."
   Committeeman Tony Gwiazdowski, whose three-year term on the committee expires at the end of the year, said he’s very optimistic about 2004.
   "I think this is going to be one of the best committees this town has had in a long time," he said. "It is full of energetic independent thinkers who are determined to work to actually get things done for the township."
   He says the group will work harmoniously, but promises a great deal of discussion.
   "We’re going to look at every issue and do it without bickering," he said. "The end result will be positive for all the people of the town."
   Committeman Gwiazdowski said he’s happy for Mayor Sireci, Deputy Mayor Wagner and Committeman Suraci and pledged to do what he can to help.
   "I really think this is a great committee and I’m sorry it’s the last year left on my term," Committeman Gwiazdowski said. "But yes, I probably am going to run (for re-election).
   "I believe in what I do," he said. "This job is about helping people and I’m committed to make Hillsborough a better place."
   The committee will meet again Tuesday night in the municipal courtroom.