Robbinsville Township is governed by what is called “the Mayor-Council Plan,” under the Faulkner Act, which also known as the “strong mayor” form. It provides for the direct election of the mayor, who serves a four-year term and, if future leaders are as fortunate as I have been, a few terms. This form of government is designed for a mayor to be independent of council, in charge of the administration of the municipality as its chief executive officer. I also serve as the public safety director. However, contrary to popular belief, I am not the social media coordinator!
Under the Faulkner Act, in the non-partisan Mayor-Council form, the mayor exercises the executive powers of the municipality. My specific functions include enforcement of municipal ordinances, supervision of all municipal departments, municipal property and to appoint the directors with the advice and consent of council. Each director shall serve during the term of office of the mayor and until the appointment and qualification of a successor.
The mayor’s office also maintains oversight of personnel and purchasing procedures, preparation of the municipal operating/capital budgets and negotiation of contracts—all subject to council approval. Additionally, the mayor serves as ex-officio, non-voting member of all appointive bodies of which he or she is not an official voting member. The mayor also may attend council meetings and take part in discussions, propose legislation and veto ordinances, subject to override by a two-thirds majority of the entire council.
The five members of township council—President Ron Witt, Vice President Chris Ciaccio, Mike Cipriano, Dan Schuberth and Vince Calcagno—provide checks and balances and are elected on a non-partisan basis to four-year, staggered terms. While I speak all the time about our staff and my absolute confidence that we can assign them to any other town in New Jersey and that town would flourish, we don’t often talk about the relationship with council and how important that is in relation to efficiency in government.
Our council is very active and works incredibly hard. It adopts the annual budget, as well as salary ordinances for all department directors, township employees and salaries which are required by law to be fixed by ordinance. Council relates to township staff through the mayor or designee, which is generally the business administrator, in our case Joy Tozzi.
With all of the political discourse prevailing over national politics today, it is really nice that we have a town that works together for the greater good. People in Robbinsville show up, they work hard and the beauty is many of us are very different with opposing ideas and diverse political leanings. There is no rubber stamp. We don’t always agree, but we do listen to each other’s points of view and can agree to disagree while still getting the job done for our residents. That is how politics should be and how good government should operate.
We have a very busy docket on tap for 2019, and I am looking forward to working with our council to move Robbinsville yet another step forward.
Happy New Year!
Dave Fried is mayor of Robbinsville.