By Jay Cook |
HOLMDEL – An accord struck last year by Holmdel’s all-Republican governing body calls for an annual rotation of its elected officials to govern from the mayor’s seat, allowing for a fresh approach on the best way to manage the 18-square-mile town.
In the 2018 calendar year, the mayoral office has shifted to Thomas Critelli.
A five-year committeeman and first-time mayor, Critelli thanked his Republican counterparts both sitting beside him and in the audience for the opportunity to serve as Holmdel mayor for the next 365 days. Newly sworn-in committeeman Rocco Pascucci was unanimously voted in as the deputy mayor for 2018. Former mayor Greg Buontempo was also sworn in as a committeeman for his third term.
“During last year’s reorganization, we discussed rotating the mayor’s seat each year, which was something this committee had not done for some time,” Critelli said, moments after being sworn in by former Holmdel mayor and Assemblywoman-elect Serena DiMaso. “I’d like to extend a special thank you to Mayor Greg Buontempo for allowing us to honor that commitment.”
After his first mayoral speech, Critelli told The Two River Times that the agreement to elect a different mayor every year from within the unified governing body will benefit Holmdel.
“It’s more about getting fresh ideas,” Critelli said, while also adding he’ll still collaborate with the four members on the township committee. “I think the public thought we were getting a little stale and maybe not moving as rapidly as we needed to – a little change is all.”
Critelli is a 27-year Holmdel resident who owns three small businesses with his wife, Mary, in northern New Jersey. Critelli is a certified public accountant and is the president and founder of Danitom Development, a real estate development company. He also owns a manufacturing company and a convenience store, he said.
Critelli believes that background and experience can only benefit Holmdel as he takes over the mayor’s seat.
“I like to see things get done, not bureaucratically slow things down. The town can be bureaucratic in its thinking because of some of the people that have been here for long periods of time who like to do things at their pace,” he said. “We hope to be able to kick-start that a little bit and get things moving, sort of like a small business.”
In his address to residents in attendance, the new mayor said there’s much to look forward to “in a truly exciting time in Holmdel township.”
Critelli said the governing body will focus on continuing the relationship with Somerset Development, owners of the 473-acre Bell Works site just a mile from town hall; keep the municipal tax rate flat for residents; look to expand recreational activities for all residents; and engage in “aggressively rebuilding” faulty roads and infrastructure in town.
Finding more recreational opportunities for Holmdel residents has been a recent goal for the governing body, Critelli said. The township committee authorized the creation of an ad hoc recreational committee early last year; a report compiled by the committee and a consultant will be provided to residents by the end of the month, he said.
“We’re going to release that information and hopefully be able to exercise and move on some sort of aggressive improvements at the recommendations of the committee,” he said.
Critelli also spoke about improving emergency service communications in the township. He said Police Chief John Mioduszewski was inquiring about new systems for his officers.
Also on tap for 2018 will be a decision regarding Holmdel’s affordable housing obligations. The township will have a fairness hearing before a Superior Court judge in Freehold later this year with the Fair Share Housing Center, a group which litigates in favor of low-income housing throughout the state. Critelli declined to go into detail considering the pending litigation, but did say, “I expect it to be resolved sooner rather than later.”
Since it is his first term as mayor, Critelli told residents he’d rely upon his current and former colleagues for guidance if needed. Committeemen Greg Buontempo and Eric Hinds are both former mayors, as are DiMaso and Monmouth County Freeholder-elect Pat Impreveduto, last year’s deputy mayor in Holmdel.
“There’s an enormous amount of knowledge from the mayors that have come before me,” Critelli said. “I don’t like to go into anything blind, so I can rely on them for the right way to approach something.”
This article was first published in the Jan. 4-11, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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