Resident: Council meeting isn’t forum for re-election

I attended a council meeting Dec. 20. The council was holding a public hearing on the newly revised zoning map. The council chamber was filled with concerned residents. This is the first time in years that this controversial project is being revised. The mayor and his administration deserve praise for having the courage to do the right thing for the good of our town. I say courage because they know that no matter how the zoning map is revised, some residents are going to be upset.

This was certainly the case at the hearing. The mayor expressed his concern to the residents and thanked them for coming out in the cold and giving him and the council their opinions. He realized that more work needs to be done, as he said, “We didn’t hit the nail on the head.” The council took no action on the proposed amendment, but will do so in March.

I have to tell you that sitting there and listening to some of the council members made me think that this seemed to me like the beginning of the “silly season,” or known as election year. I suppose seeing the large turnout of residents prompted them to begin their re-election campaign a bit earlier. I am referring to council members Lucille Panos, G. Kevin Calogera and Richard Greene. They seemed overjoyed that many residents were upset with the proposed zoning revision. They appeared to distance themselves from the other council members as if to say we’re not with these guys, we’re with you, meaning the residents. They saw that the residents were upset, but instead of trying to allay their fears, they only worked the crowd to their benefit. I was especially surprised to hear Ms. Panos make personal attacks against another councilman.

It seems to me that if there are differences of thought and opinions, they should be expressed in a professional way. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and when it comes to the interest of the township and its residents, no one should be a rubber stamp. But let’s not use the forum of a public council meeting to launch a re-election campaign.

John Scalamonti

Old Bridge