Tara Clark was appointed mayor at the annual organization meeting of the Hazlet Township Committee on Jan. 5, 2021. This is the first time Clark will serve as mayor, and only the third time a woman will be at the helm of Hazlet's governing body. Clark is a educator in the East Brunswick school system and also has a background as a professional accountant. She was part of the legal team that successfully defeated a controversial powerline project along the train tracks in recent years.
The Deputy Mayor is now Michael Sachs, who won election to a three-year term in the November election. Sachs has a long career of service to the Township Committee, dating back to 1997 and has served as mayor at 5 different times.
For the first time, the swearing-in ceremony was held remotely, via Zoom, due to the current health safety precautions. The Deputy Director of the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners, Susan Kiley, administered the oath. It was particularly significant as Kiley formerly served as Hazlet Township's second female mayor. Clark's husband, Walter, held the bible during the ceremony.
Mayor Tara Clark's SPEECH
Good evening everyone and Happy New Year.
I am truly excited to have the opportunity to serve as Hazlet’s mayor in 2021. I want to begin by thanking Michael Glackin for his outstanding leadership and service as Hazlet’s Mayor in 2020. Mayor Glackin’s innovative solutions, financial budgeting foresight, and positivity helped our town face the unprecedented challenges that arose due to COVID-19.
I also want to thank the other members on our Township Committee: Skip McKay, Mike Sachs and Scott Aagre. Taking on the job of mayor will certainly be challenging, but I am fortunate to work with such an experienced team. I want to thank them for their ongoing dedication and service to our community.
Becoming mayor would not be possible without the unconditional love and support of my entire family; especially my husband Walter, my daughters, Meghan, Delaney and Brianna and my mom. They are always there for me. I also want to remember my dad, Michael Corcoran whose wisdom will be my guide.
When I became Deputy Mayor one year ago, I could never have imagined the pandemic that lay ahead and how it would impact our lives. Fortunately, some things did not change; Hazlet Township’s employees showed dedication and professionalism throughout this past year. Despite the difficulties, Town Hall employees continued to keep the town operating, and open to the public as much as possible.
Hazlet is blessed to have an exceptional police force. Our police officers are committed to our safety and they do their jobs with respect, fairness, and extraordinary compassion. I am profoundly grateful for our selfless volunteers in town who always answer the call. I am thankful for our three fire departments: Hazlet Fire Company Number 1, North Centerville Volunteer Fire Company and West Keansburg Fire Company.
I am also grateful to our First Aid and Rescue squads. Throughout this pandemic they have risked their own personal safety to come to the aid of others 24/7.
Our DPW staff did an outstanding job especially since they had so many safety measures to implement due to newly mandated health protocols. They provided critical maintenance and support throughout the year to our facilities, roads, and parks. We are grateful for the long hours they put in cleaning up after tropical storms and nor’easters. I am so pleased that last summer we were able to open our expansive pool club, giving families, children, and seniors a place to go and relax. We had one of the most successful seasons ever thanks to DPW.
When I was campaigning, residents told me they wanted to see improved communications in town. In 2020 we worked to move communications a giant step forward. The township invested in a state-of-the art municipal website which enables us to quickly disseminate important information to our residents. We significantly expanded our social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We also launched a new emergency communications system for our police department with enhanced features. Coming next is an effective agenda and meeting management system for our Municipal Clerk, Boards, and Commissions.
I am happy to say that in its very first year Hazlet Township’s Public Information Office has won the award for best web and social media in the state in the Municipal Public Information Contest.
The Township Committee took considerable measures in 2020 to protect our first responders. We acquired portable decontamination systems to sanitize our ambulances and police cars between calls. To protect our citizens during first aid emergencies we now have an oxygen plant that can refill over a hundred medical grade oxygen bottles daily in a crisis. We equipped our first responders with two advanced CPR compression systems to assist during cardiac emergencies. There are plans to supplement our first responders with an additional two CPR pumps in the coming year.
I am happy to tell you that as a result of having these devices, our first responders saved the lives of more than 30 individuals in their moment of crisis.
What lies ahead?
In 2021 we will welcome several new businesses. Thanks to our construction department for handling all these new applications.
Our Township Committee will continue to focus on fiscal responsibility. We will address budgetary challenges to maximize our economic recovery as we look to a post-COVID world. We will continue to implement cost savings measures through technological improvements and operational efficiencies.
Over the past two years this Township Committee has undertaken an extensive town-wide road restoration program. Taking a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach, using advanced digital technology and detailed engineering analyses, we will keep moving forward with our long-range plan to resurface our township’s streets in 2021.
We will renovate the Cullen Center in Veterans Park to offer a welcoming place for seniors, teens, families, and other community groups to attend educational and recreational programs and events.
In the springtime we will open a new environmental building in Natco Park which will offer a meeting place to hold environmental educational programs and kick-start Green Team and Clean Communities initiatives.
Lastly, and most importantly, we have a great need for committed volunteers who want to be part of our spirited community. Are you ready to make this the year that you offer your talents? To connect with others? To give back to your hometown.
We want to hear from you, especially if you are new to our town. Reach out to us. Get involved. We welcome you!
Tara Clark, Mayor