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'There Is Much to Be Optimistic About,' Mayor Skibitsky Says of 2014

Westfield officials were sworn in at the Thursday evening reorganization meeting.

Newest council member, David Oliveira, being sworn in at the Jan. 2,2014 reorganization meeting. Credit: Nicole Bitette
Newest council member, David Oliveira, being sworn in at the Jan. 2,2014 reorganization meeting. Credit: Nicole Bitette

Despite the snowfall, all seats were filled in the Westfield Council Chambers for Thursday’s 2014 reorganization meeting.

At the meeting, newest council member David Oliveira was sworn in along with council members renewing their terms, including Sam Della Fera, Keith Loughlin and Vicki Kimmins. Also, Mayor Andy Skibitsky was sworn in for his third term.

In attendance were Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, Union County Freeholder Al Mirabella, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mark Ciarrocca and Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park, as well as former Westfield Mayors and Council Members.

After appointing council members and resident volunteers to various committees, Skibitsky gave his annual State of the Town address where he described Westfield in one word, “strong.”

“Westfield is strong community we accept our challenges as opportunities,” he explained.

He discussed the state of the economy and its impact on local government, noting Westfield is not immune to the great recession and global economic crisis.

However, he added that Westfield has managed to add services when most towns have had to reduce them.

Skibitsky said that his efforts have been and will continue to be bringing spending down to sustainable lows while still keeping Westfield a great place to live, work and visit.

He commented on how Westfield was named “A Great Downtown” with occupancy rates between 92 and 92 percent, with one-third of tenants being in town for more than 25 years.

Skibitsky went on to discuss how resilient the town has been in the wake of Irene and Sandy.

“Public Safety is always at the forefront of our priorities,” he said.

He explained how in the last year the town has purchased a back-up generator for the public works building, a mobile command center and an aerial ladder fire truck, as well as made significant improvements to roads and an overhaul of parking lot #4.

One of Skibistky’s priorities for 2014 is his “Mayor’s Safety Academy of 2014.” He explained that it is clear many household, pedestrian and vehicle accidents are preventable and he hopes to address those issues through the safety academy.

Also in the coming year the town looks forward to implementing a Sustainable Jersey grant to further expand recycling at the conservation station, he said, as well as installing new pay stations.

“In closing, I want to assure everyone that there is much to be optimistic about in our future, because as I’ve said many times before, Westfield is not just about what local government is doing, it’s really about the people who with great pride call Westfield their hometown, it’s about the parents who choose to raise their families here,” he said.

“It’s about the abundance of recreational, educational, cultural and spiritual opportunities, it’s about the hundreds of thousands volunteers who so generously give their time and talents to coach and guide our youngsters in sports in scouting and other extra curricular activities, it’s about our senior citizens who contributed to making Westfield what it is today and now stay to be closer to families they have raised. I have great faith in the strength of the town because I have great faith in the strength of its people.”

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