The Verona Town Council held its reorganization meeting yesterday evening, electing Kevin Ryan as mayor and Michael Nochimson as deputy mayor.
“I would not be here if it were not for the voters of Verona,” said Ryan. He was the top vote getter in the 2013 Town Council election, but was passed over for mayor that year. This May, voters elected Nochimson to a second term and sent Alex Roman to the Council for the first time. The election changed the majority on the Council, which functions much like a board of directors does at a company, with day-to-day management of the town handled by a paid town manager.
“The voters sent a clear message that they wanted a new approach,” Ryan said of the May 12 election, but he emphasized that he would work on building consensus on the Council, which has often been sharply divided in the last two years. The Hon. John Paparazzo, Verona’s municipal court judge, administered the oath of office to Ryan, who thanked Al DeOld, who he said “personifies the model citizen”, and former Mayor Bob Detore for their help and encouragement in getting him involved with town government.
Nochimson was sworn in for a second term by State Sen. Kevin J. O’Toole, a Cedar Grove native who once represented Verona in the state legislature. O’Toole praised Nochimson for his commitment to family and Verona, adding “I think Verona is so lucky to have someone like him.”
For his part, Nochimson thanked all those who worked for his re-election this year. “There are tremendous points of light throughout the town,” he said. Nochimson offered “big congratulations” to Ryan. “I know he is ready to lead us because he treats people with respect,” Nochimson said. “Verona taxpayers deserve a responsive, open government.”
Roman, who had run unsuccessfully for Town Council in 2013, was the second-highest vote getter in the most recent election. He picked Township Attorney Michael Gannaio to administer his oath of office, saying he had been impressed by Gannaio’s work on behalf of Verona. “It was in the interest of unity on the Council that I asked him to speak tonight,” Roman added. Gannaio called Roman “a thoughtful, articulate person who will bring a new dynamic to the Council.”
Roman said that he was “very lucky” to have landed in Verona 10 years ago. “I thought I was just buying a house,” he said, “but I found a community.” Roman said he looked forward to working with Verona’s municipal employees and with his fellow Council members. “It is going to take all five of us to get things done,” he said.
But there was at least one sign that building consensus is still an uphill task. When it came time to vote on the position of deputy mayor, outgoing Mayor Bob Manley, who will continue to be a member of the new Council, abstained from the vote.
The July 1 ceremony, which is usually held on the steps of Town Hall, had been moved indoors because Town Manager Joe Martin had seen a threat of storms earlier in the day. He joked at the ceremony that, just as he had been wrong about not buying stocks like Facebook, he was wrong about the weather.