The Hopewell Township Committee “enthusiastically,” “excitedly” and unanimously voted Michael Ruger mayor at its annual reorganizational meeting Tuesday night.
The effusive support from his colleagues was a high point of the meeting, which also included electing Courtney Peters-Manning deputy mayor, and approving dozens of appointments to Township boards and positions for 2023. Peters-Manning and David Chait also were sworn in for new three-year terms as members of the Township Committee.
The roll call vote for Ruger was a good-natured game of one-upsmanship as Township Committee members reached for superlatives in support of the new mayor.
“Though there have been some very difficult times, he is always a voice of reason,” Peters-Manning said in nominating Ruger as mayor. “And he always puts the people of Hopewell Township first.”
After his swearing in, Ruger said his first priority will be developing a responsible budget that continues to hold the line on taxes. He optimistically pointed to increased property tax revenues from business ratables, Payments in Lieu of Taxes by developers, and potential tax revenue from cannabis farming tied to a proposal now before the state regulatory commission
Ruger also shared an ambitious to-do list for the committee the next 12 months that includes reviewing ordinances on signage and food trucks, overseeing construction of the Woolsey Park Band Shell, upgrading the 911 police communication center, new affordable and market rate housing, and advancing plans for a new senior center.
Ruger invoked the oath he first swore as a Cub Scout, — On my honor, to do my best. “That is how I have approached everything I have done in my life,” Ruger said. “I make the same commitment to you this evening. On my honor, I promise you that I will do my best.”
Several Committee members took note that the reorganization was the first one to be conducted in-person since 2020 because of COVID. Ruger also noted that the Committee will continue to meet in hybrid format to ensure that all Hopewell residents can attend the meetings from wherever they might be.
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