J-Town Tidbits: Do you know your Township Council?

Jefferson Township is governed under a Mayor-Council system of municipal government under the Faulkner Act. This form of government consists of a Mayor and a five-member township council whose members are elected at-large (in contrast to voting by electoral districts) in partisan elections.  Members serve four-year terms on a staggered basis, with either three council seats or two council seats and the mayoral seat coming up for election every other year as part of the November general election.  

The Jefferson Township Council regularly meets in the Council Chambers at the Jefferson Township Municipal Building, 1033 Weldon Road, Lake Hopatcong, NJ 07849.

As of January 1, 2017,  Debi Merz is Council President (Republican – term expires 12/31/2018), Michael Sanchelli is Vice President (Republican – term expires 12/31/2018), and Council members are Robert Birmingham (Republican – term expires 12/31/20), Jay Dunham (Republican – term expires 12/31/20), and Kim Finnegan (Republican – term expires 12/31/20).

Township Clerk Michele Reilly (in her absence Deputy Clerk Maria Pivirotto) serves as the Council’s Secretary and is present at meetings along with the Township Attorney Larry Cohen (or his representative).

The Council meets twice a month usually on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 7:30 pm.  However, during July, August, and November, they meet once a month but also schedule special meetings to review the township budget, etc. throughout the year.

A re-organization meeting is held in early January where a Council President and Vice President are elected by their fellow Council members, oaths of office are administered, the Mayor and Council announce their appointments/representatives to various boards and committees at the municipal as well as County level, authorize and approve professional services contracts as well as approve other administrative matters for the new year.

A typical Council agenda for a regular meeting would be as follows:

  • A Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Salute to the Flag
  • Special Presentations if applicable
  • Public Comment
  • Ordinances for public hearing and vote for adoption if applicable
  • Council Reports
  • Administrative Reports of the Mayor and Administrator
  • New Business Matters
  • Approval of previous Council meeting minutes
  • Consent Agenda
  • Resolutions
  • Public Comment
  • Adjournment

Residents can view agendas and approved Council minutes at www.jeffersontownship.net through the link “Town Council” on the website’s home page.

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Carol was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Jefferson Township with her husband in 1976. She initially joined the Garden Club of Milton, eventually serving as President. She was a co-founder of the ABC Mothers Group, active in the local PTAs, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts. She worked for AIM Newspapers as a reporter and eventually became its Editor. Currently, she is President of the Jefferson Arts Committee and the Recreation Program Coordinator in the Jefferson Township Recreation Department. She can be reached at carol.punturieri@thejeffersonchronicle.com.

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