2022 Inaugural Address
Good evening everyone, and Happy New Year!
Thank you Governor Murphy for that warm introduction. Congratulations to you on your reelection! We’re excited to continue working with your administration to keep moving New Jersey forward, which I’m hoping includes a Raritan Valley Line one-seat ride for Westfield!
Congratulations also to Senator Scutari on your re-election, and on becoming our new Senate President. We look forward to Union County being well represented with your leadership in Trenton.
And thank you Congressman Tom Malinowski for always showing up for Westfield and being a strong advocate for us in Washington.
Most importantly, on behalf of myself and the Westfield Together team, thank you to the residents of Westfield for giving us the privilege to serve you for a second term.
It’s very humbling to see so many of you here tonight. Masked up. Socially-distanced. We certainly didn’t foresee this when we were being sworn in for the first time four years ago. It’s a stark reminder that the only thing we control is our response to life’s challenges, and by that measure I couldn’t be prouder of how this community has weathered this unimaginable storm.
Tonight I’d like to take a moment to remember and reflect on the lives of the over 800,000 Americans we lost to COVID these past two years, including 61 of our Westfield residents, neighbors, friends and family.
We are grateful and humbled to be taking this oath once again. In many ways being re-elected to a second term is more meaningful than the first. Four years ago, this team of newcomers won based on your hopes and dreams and our forward-looking vision for Westfield. Today we’re here because we’ve delivered on the promises we made to you then. I stand here to reaffirm our commitment to you to continue to do so, and always make decisions that are in the long-term best interests of our community. While we may not always agree, I promise you will always be heard. We are here to solve problems, and to ensure your government works responsibly, responsively, efficiently, and ethically.
In my remarks four years ago – on that freezing cold 15 degree day – I spoke about the opportunity we had ahead of us. That we could only reach our community’s fullest potential by engaging all of our residents. At that time, too many of us had stayed on the sidelines because we hadn’t been asked to participate or simply didn’t feel welcome.
So my administration set out to broaden our community engagement efforts and instill an inclusive culture that inspires residents to get involved. And boy, did you answer the call!
Over the past four years, we’ve had nearly 1,000 volunteer applications submitted to serve on Town Boards and Commissions. Our community showed up to weigh-in on a new first: Publicly-driven Master Plans for our Town and our Parks, laying out our roadmap for the next decade. We raised the Pride flag for the first time, honored Westfield’s African American history, and collectively (albeit remotely) celebrated our 300-year anniversary. Our amazing volunteers made AddamsFest possible, painted Westfield’s first public art murals, jump-started a best-in-class Green Team, supported our first Mental Health Council, and engaged our seniors through our successful Lifelong Westfield initiative.
Our community has come together in ways big and small, and nowhere has this been more evident than during the pandemic. Not only did we donate our time and resources to support our community during lock down, we went on to achieve a 98% adult vaccination rate, living up to our community’s shared commitment to each other. As we emerge from this pandemic, let’s strive to maintain that Westfield community spirit as we embark on the work ahead.
And what does that look like? Over the next four years, this Administration will continue to focus on:
Keeping our community healthy and safe;
Expanding and diversifying our tax base to relieve residents of bearing the brunt of our tax burden;
Becoming a premier sustainable town;
Upgrading our parks and fields;
Diversifying our housing stock to ensure young people can afford to live here, and seniors can afford to stay;
Advancing our plans for revitalizing our historic Downtown to ensure it remains vibrant for generations to come
In order to accomplish these ambitious goals, we must not fear growth or progress. A healthy and vibrant town is one that evolves, adapts, and ensures that all are welcome.
Which brings me to my final point. While we’ve made strides on so many fronts, troubling signs of division and hate have appeared in our schools and playgrounds over the past few years. I don’t believe these acts are reflective of our community at-large, but how we respond to them does define us. And we must answer: Who do we want to be?
From the abundant love and compassion I’ve witnessed in this community, we already know who we are. We just need to work harder to denounce those who seek division, and actively and publicly stand up for each other. Let’s heed the call from our Westfield clergy in a recently shared video of solidarity, “We need the light. Here. Now. Let’s shine together.” I firmly commit to leading that charge in the year ahead, and making this one of my administration's most important priorities.
In closing, I’d like to thank our over 200 dedicated Town employees who continue to deliver for our residents, and specifically to Town Administrator Jim Gildea for his many years of service to Westfield. To our Westfield EMS, Police, Fire, and Public Works Departments for their ongoing dedication to our community, and for literally lighting up Town Hall tonight.
And I must acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of our Regional Health Department led by Megan Avallone, along with the work of so many unsung heroes over the past two years: teachers, healthcare workers, custodians, grocery store workers, and countless others to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.
Thank you also to our countless resident volunteers, and to everyone who participated and planned this amazing event: Rabbi Ethan Prosnit of Temple Emanu-el, our emcee extraordinaire Les Trent, Governor Murphy, Senator Scutari, Congressman Malinowski, volunteers Sharon Stockwell, Eldy Pavon, Giao Williams, and Ben Nanna.
Thanks to the many dignitaries and elected officials who are here tonight, especially our Union County Commissioner partners, including Westfield’s own Commissioner Kim Palmieri Mouded, and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick. Congratulations to all those who were recently reelected.
Thanks also to my partners at the Board of Education, and my tribe of female Mayors -- some of whom are here today.
Lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank my family. My sisters Sharon and Susie, my mom who serves as our inspiration, and our dad Major David I. Wright, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and whose legacy I strive to honor every day.
My husband Kip, my secret weapon and purveyor of truth, who makes my service possible. My three kids – Grace, Nora and Nick – who patiently and humorously answer the question when they’re asked for the thousandth time…."Is your mom the Mayor!?” I love you all beyond measure.
From my team at home, to my team at Town Hall – our re-elected Councilpersons Linda Habgood, Mike Dardia, David Contract and Dawn Mackey – Congratulations! I look forward to finishing what we started.
Please come on up and join me!
To our fellow Councilpersons Jim Boyes, Mark Parmelee, Mark LoGrippo, and Scott Katz – I’m excited to keep working together for Westfield!
Please come join us.
On behalf of all of us, thank you for being here tonight – showing up for us in the dark and cold! We are so grateful – and humbled by the responsibility you’ve bestowed upon us, and promise to always show up for you.
Thank you, best wishes for a peaceful, joyful, and healthy New Year!
Let’s shine together!