Literally ringing in the new year, Senior Advisory board member and official Township Crier, Stan Saperstein, who was dressed from head to toe in Revolutionary War garb, rang his bell before a large crowd on January 7 at the Hopewell Township Municipal Building. Bell ringing is in keeping with a hundred year tradition and also began the first Township Committee meeting of 2019.
“Over the years, town criers have the official function of a town clerk” Saperstein explained. “They would open all the legislative and court sessions by calling on the steps of whatever the appropriate building was, the ‘Oyez’ call, and that officially started the meeting.”
Saperstein followed his brief historical overview with booming “Oyez, oyez, oyez,” three times and ringing his bell three times in between each cry, as per tradition.
Residents awaited the appointment of the newest mayor and deputy mayor of the Township. With no hesitation, former mayor Kevin Kuchinski nominated Kristin McLaughlin as mayor, which was seconded by former deputy mayor Julie Blake. Likewise, Blake nominated Michael Ruger as deputy mayor for 2019, which was seconded by Kuchinski.
John Hart made sure to voice his concerns and feelings before the vote for both mayor and deputy mayor, which ultimately did not sway his fellow Committee members from voting “yes.”
“We are a five member Committee,” said Hart. “Until this changes, I’m going to abstain on all these issues when it comes to who are going to be elected. Until we start fighting for the issues and not just sitting up on a seat here just to bring your pals up here to run for office, I’m going to be abstaining for all these.”
After both McLaughlin and Ruger were sworn in by Bonnie Watson Coleman, the Representative for New Jersey’s 12th congressional district, McLaughlin gave her first speech as Mayor.
“I firmly believe we cannot hide from the reality of change,” said Mayor McLaughlin. “We can, however, be thoughtful about our responses to any challenge that comes to us. The people gathered in this room give me absolute certainty that we can handle any problems we face by working together.”
McLaughlin, who was elected to the Committee in 2016, earned her AB at Harvard College and a master’s degree in education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She moved to the Township in 2008, where she and her husband raised three daughters.
McLaughlin outlined her hopes for the coming year, emphasizing an importance on the Township’s budget and spending habits, growing a stronger community in the Township, and anticipating the legalization of marijuana at the state level.
Deputy Mayor Ruger agreed with all Mayor McLaughlin’s points and is excited for the coming year on the Committee.
“I want to add a goal to the agenda the Mayor just laid out,” said Ruger during his speech. “It is time for all of us, whether we are on the dais, in the audience, or watching from home, to work towards a new civility in this Township.”
Ruger, who was elected to the Committee in 2017, graduated from Penn State with degrees in political science and psychology and later earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center. He and his wife moved to the Township in 1998 where they raised three sons and two dogs.
The Township has not yet published their meeting schedule for 2019 so please stay tuned to their website for the next Committee meeting date.