In a reorganization meeting that focused heavily on thanking volunteers and staff for their work in the community, councilwoman Christine Henderson Rose was chosen as the 2013 council president.
“While we will have challenges this year, we are a community with many resources that can support us while we face them,” she said.
The reorganization meeting was held Monday in the municipal complex, and featured appearances from such dignitaries as Rep. Leonard Lance, Sen. Michael Doherty, Assemblyman Erik Peterson, Assemblyman John DiMaio and members of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Councilman Filipe Pedroso was sworn in for an unexpired term after being elected to the council in the November elections, defeating Democrat William Metz.
The meeting also featured an invocation by Reverend Jennifer Lovallo of the Bridgewater United Methodist Church and Rabbi Ron Isaacs of Temple Sholom, as well as a benediction from a priest wth the Sri Venkateswara Temple.
"We wanted to present a very culturally diverse invocation and benediction," Rose said.
Outgoing council president Allen Kurdyla said he appreciates the time he had to serve in the position.
“I thank my fellow council members for their dedication to the residents of Bridgewater,” he said. “While at times we did not agree, I appreciate the fact that everyone was acting responsibly in their position.”
Kurdyla said the township staff has worked diligently with the council throughout the year, and he is especially grateful for the work of the township’s volunteers, particularly through Superstorm Sandy.
“Sandy was an event that I sincerely wish we never experience again,” he said. “But the work of Mayor [Dan] Hayes, his administration, public works, Office of Emergency Management [and others] was excellent.”
“These people were responding to the needs of the township while their families were at home experiencing the same problems experienced by every member of this township,” he added.
Kurdyla also thanked Hayes for his efforts in 2012.
"It was not an easy year, with issues facing the community that were tough," Kurdyla said. "The budget, occupying the new public works building and litigation were tough."
"If I were able, I would make sure 2013 would have no snowstorms, litigation, floods or hurricanes," he added. "I offer the new council president, my fellow council members and Mayor Hayes best wishes for a healthy and prosperous new year."
Rose said she especially appreciates the work of the volunteers, and wants to make sure they are consistently recognized.
“Those that don’t receive enough recognition are the volunteers,” she said. “They ensure the youth are well educated and prepared for the future, address the various needs of our older citizens and respond to fire and rescue emergencies.”
“I know many other ways our residents give back to the community, and they are to be recognized,” she added.
In preparing for her position as council president, Rose said, she spoke to those members of council who have already served, soliciting advice for moving forward.
“The council president serves as a spokesperson for the council, and facilitates the work of the council,” she said. “I appreciate the fact that the council is taking a risk in electing a social worker to that position.”
Rose said she is looking toward the new year, with the possibility of examining more options for community policing, D.A.R.E and other similar opportunities for residents.
“I know there will be times when we do not agree,” she said. “But we can work toward a compromise, and I think we have done that affectively on any number of issues that have come before us.”