Hopewell Township, along with New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, swore in Hopewell Township’s mayor, deputy mayor, a new Committee member and various other public officials in the Committee’s reorganization meeting for 2020.
Murphy, in a room filled with public officials ranging from the municipal level all the way to senators and members of the NJ Assembly, emphasized the importance of public service before swearing in the mayor Kristin McLaughlin and new Committee member Courtney Peters-Manning,
“This is about service,” Murphy said. “It’s not an easy road regardless of where you come from on the philosophical or ideological spectrum.”
The Committee then presented Kristin McLaughlin and Michael Ruger for mayor and deputy mayor respectively for a second term, which the Committee passed unanimously. McLaughlin highlighted some of the Committee’s actions last year, including ending the affordable housing litigation, working with PTC Therapeutics to fill the gap in Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMS) departure, and improving government efficiency for Township residents.
“That is what I really want to focus on this year: cooperation, inclusion, community,” McLaughlin said. “Our community is only as strong as the connections among us.”
McLaughlin presented what the next year may bring as well, with a new Township budget, affordable housing plans becoming reality, and a request for open-mindedness at the forefront of her agenda.
“The hard work of municipal governance isn’t always simply finding a good way to solve a problem, but making sure that everyone who has a stake in the problem has a voice in finding the solution,” McLaughlin said. “This is our home and I welcome hearing from anyone who wants to help with the work required to build a strong community.”
Ruger echoed similar sentiments as McLaughlin but emphasized diversity in opinion despite the departure of the Committee’s lone Republican.
“There are five people [on the Committee] who share, in broad terms, a common vision,” Ruger said. “But there are also five individuals on the Committee… five individuals, with five different sets of life experiences, and five different ways of looking at and solving Township issues.”
Ruger additionally called for civility in the Township, repeating a similar call he made last year.
“We can add to the public discourse, have vigorous debate, and disagree without being disagreeable… or we can do the opposite. Each of us must make the choice,” Ruger said. “I know the choice I want to make, and I hope others will join me in not mirroring the worst of national discourse at the Township level.”
With McLaughlin and Ruger resuming their roles from last year, and new Committee member Peters-Manning sworn in, the Committee administered the oath of office for various government appointees and divied up the Township’s various boards amongst themselves, beginning a new year with new responsibilities, personnel and issues to be solved.
The Committee’s first regular meeting of the year is scheduled for January 13.