COURT HOUSE - The usual fanfare that accompanies Middle Township’s annual reorganization was missing in 2021. There was no police honor guard. Dignitaries and families did not crowd the municipal courtroom. No one sang.
Instead, Timothy Donohue, following the vote of the Middle Township Committee, took his oath as mayor from his home via Zoom. Theron “Ike” Gandy was, again, selected as deputy mayor and was,likewise,remotely sworn in by Clerk/Administrator Kim Krauss. Donohue won a new term on the governing body in November.
The third Committee member, James Norris, had his own news. Newly married when he ran for and won a seat on the governing body, in 2019, Norris and his wife, Kasia, are expecting their first child.
Donohue opened the meeting with comments that were, in part, provoked by the grim details from Washington and the storming of the U.S. Capitol. Attending his 10th reorganization meeting as a governing body member and about to begin his fifth year as mayor, Donohue said his “heart is breaking for this country.”
“When we take the oath of office, it is an oath to serve the people and defend the Constitution. It is not an oath to a party,” Donohue said. “If you think only one side is at fault here, you’re sadly mistaken,” he added. “We all need to check ourselves. None of us are blameless.”
Most importantly, he argued, “we need to change the conversation.” Donohue repeatedly urged municipal residents to approach the coming year and its challenges together. “We cannot focus on our differences because we face the challenge of our lifetime.” He added that “no grand plans will succeed if we do not approach them together.”
Referencing challenges of the past year dominated by the pandemic and political polarization, Donohue said that while reorganization meetings are often used as forums for discussing future plans, “That will have to wait. We must deal first with the here and now.”
Attention moved to the orderly adoption of 38 resolutions and the introduction of two ordinances. All the business was to set up the municipality for the coming year, with renewed appointments, a temporary budget, assigning committee members to department oversight responsibilities, establishing purchasing authorities, setting council meeting times, delineating a payroll schedule, renewing licenses, and a myriad of other routine but essential business tasks. The temporary budget is set as a proportional percentage of the previous year’s budget.
All three committee members thanked the municipality’s staff for the job done in 2020 under the pandemic’s enormous and unexpected burdens.
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