Panconi named mayor for ’06

Tom Panconi was sworn into office, Tuesday, at the Township Committee’s reorganization meeting.

By: Jessica Beym
   There was an empty seat in the center of the meeting table in Town Hall on Tuesday night.
   But by the end of the Township Committee’s reorganization meeting, that seat was filled, with Committeeman Tom Panconi being selected to serve as Cranbury’s mayor for the next year.
   Town Hall was crowded with neighbors, friends and family members who watched as Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, whose district includes Cranbury, read the oath of office to Mr. Panconi.
   In a 4-0 vote, the Township Committee voted for Mr. Panconi to serve as mayor for the final year of his three-year committee term. Mr. Panconi abstained from the vote.
   Before Mr. Panconi read the oath, Republican Wayne Wittman was sworn into a three-year term as a member of the five-person committee. The Democrats hold a 4-1 majority this year.
   Mr. Wittman, who narrowly defeated Democrat Angela Cook in November, served two terms as a committee member from 1993-1999 and was mayor in his last year until he lost his seat to Democrat Greg Overstreet. The seat on the committee was left open after departing Mayor Becky Beauregard decided not to seek re-election.
   In the Township Committee form of government the mayor has few powers. The mayor is one of five votes on the committee, runs the meetings as chairman, and makes some appointments.
   "I’m surrounded by wonderful people," said Mayor Panconi after taking the oath. "We really have a good team here in Cranbury."
   Mr. Panconi moved to Cranbury in 1998 with his wife of 17 years, Kathleen, and his daughters Jenna, 13, and Taylor, 11.
   In his profession[jde: It would be better to say what his profession is, i.e. As an engineer, or as a plumber, : ], Mr. Panconi works to maintain the plumbing of the James J. Howard Marine Facility in Sandy Hook. The marine science laboratory is used by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conduct daily experiments.
   In his first speech as mayor, Mayor Panconi said the committee plans to address the township’s issues for the new year.
   He said the first matter will be working on the township’s budget for 2006, followed by progress with the upcoming revaluation of property in the township.
   "That is something that will be under a watchful eye," said Mayor Panconi.
   Mayor Panconi said in an interview Wednesday that the township will be keeping the public as informed as possible throughout the process.
   He said the township also will continue to encourage the Cranbury Crawl, a program that encourages residents to obey speed limits in the village with the hope that other divers will also slow down.
   "We want to make it a mindset of our residents that this is our town and we need to help the police by maintaining 25," said Mayor Panconi on Wednesday. "Cranbury is a pedestrian friendly town."
   Mayor Panconi also encouraged residents to visit the township’s Web site and to sign up for online updates of events in town and township meetings.
   Mayor Panconi said he would have open office hours from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. in the township administrator’s office on Saturdays before Township Committee meetings. There will also be a list of contacts and liaison information for all of the members of the Township Committee outside the office.
   "I know I have such a good group to work with," said Mr. Panconi, "Not only the people on the committee but the people on all of the boards and the commissions in the township."
   Also during the meeting, Mayor Panconi appointed committee members Richard Stannard and David Stout to remain as members of the Planning Board.
   The committee also appointed a list of other positions and terms including returning members of the Clock Winding Committee, Parks Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment.
   The committee also appointed two new members to the Board of Health, Ms. Cook and John Coumbis, and a new Board of Health attorney, Edward Konin.