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Hale Remembered, NJ Residents For Action Seek Mayor's Support at Council Meeting

Meeting began with a moment of silence in memory of Lee Hale.

The Tuesday night meeting of the Westfield Town Council began with a moment of silence in memory of Lee Hale, 88, who passed away on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Acting mayor JoAnn Neylan spoke of Hale's lifelong legacy of commitment to community service. At the end of the meeting, Councilman Frank Arena shared his memories of Hale, noting that even while staying in Florida, Hale would call in to take part in the Downtown Westfield Corporation meetings, where he'd served as Board of Director and Treasurer.

"Westfield is a better town because of people like Lee Hale," Arena said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Karen Egert, president of NJ Residents For Action, a statewide community-based group started by Westfield residents working towards meaningful legislation, which includes a federal ban on assault weapons and magazine clips, universal background checks, and stronger punishments for illegal gun purchases, spoke.

Egert and fellow group members said they were disappointed that Westfield Mayor Andrew Skibitsky was not in attendance Tuesday evening as they wanted to ask him to join Mayors Against Illegal Guns. More than 800 mayors from big cities and small towns from across the country, including those in Cranford, Fanwood and Scotch Plains, have joined the initiative yet Egert and fellow supporters said repeated calls to Skibitsky's office have gone unreturned. 

Egert said the organization, a grassroots effort that began after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, has gained not only great momentum but also the attention of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be sending Brian Levinson, a representative from his office, to meet with the Westfield group on Friday. 

Before the meeting began, members of NJ Residents for Action distributed hand outs of an article 'And in Last Week's Gun News' that appeared in The New York Times detailing 14 recent shootings that have occurred since Jan. 21.

Two mothers who spoke before the council said each day it becomes harder and scarier to leave their children at school, not knowing when a lockdown might no longer be a drill. 

NJ Residents for Action will hold its next meeting at The First Congregational Church in Westfield on Elmer Street at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb 6. All are welcome to attend.

Priscilla jones January 30, 2013 at 05:03 AM
Bravo to those who are remembering the horrific events of Sandy Hook .and working hard to try to do something about it . otherwise this will becone a shameful scourge on thus nation and on our social fabric . They are upstanding citizens indeed .
Bgold335 January 31, 2013 at 03:34 AM
I for one am highly disappointed that our Mayor has not been forthcoming on this issue . There is no reason whatsoever for him not having been a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns before , but now that it has been presented by such an eloquent and artfully committed gathering of brave Wesrfield residents , if he does not support it now , it is inexcusable . Thank you to those residents standing up for common sense and public safety for all of us .
Politico January 31, 2013 at 03:39 AM
Don't expect Republican Mayor Skibitsky to align himself with the Democrat Mayors of Cranford, Scotch Plains, and Fanwood. Skibitsky is not about to support legislation that is fueled by liberals. His procrastination on the issue is a stall tactic to avoid making a political statement.
Bob234 January 31, 2013 at 04:34 AM
Mayor Bloomberg IS a Republican , remember ? And this is Not a partisan issue in a town like Westfield -- it's common sense . If the mayor refuses to join he will look like an idiot . , He will be turning his backs on his own RESIDENTS . -- That's SHAMEFUL
South Westfielder February 02, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Mayor Bloomberg changed party affiliations to Republican to ride on the heels of Giulani and get elected. Until 2001, he was a lifelong Democrat. In 2001, he was a Republican, but in 2007 he became an Independent.

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