Township Committee member Stephanie Murray, who served as Middletown’s deputy mayor in 2013, will lead the governing body as the township’s mayor in 2014.
Murray, a former Housing Authority and Zoning Board of Adjustment member, has served on the governing body since 2012 and was elected to the position by the Township Committee during its annual reorganization meeting Sunday morning.
Along with offering thanks to her family and the residents of Middletown, she recognized her fellow committee members for “having faith in me and giving me the opportunity to serve my home in such a meaningful way.”
Murray takes over the mayor’s position from Gerard Scharfenberger, who held the role in 2013. Scharfenberger was sworn in to another term on the committee Sunday.
Committee members rotate the mayor and deputy mayor positions on a yearly basis.
Incumbent Kevin Settembrino—also re-elected in 2013—will serve as deputy mayor in 2014.
“It is both an honor and a privilege for me to serve here on the Township Committee,” Settembrino said.
After being sworn in by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Murray delivered remarks to a full town hall courtroom where other elected officials and municipal appointees took their oaths.
Among Murray’s goals in the coming year are property tax control and Superstorm Sandy recovery, she said.
The Township Committee and administration will “continue to press other towns to join Middletown in a renewed call to action against rising flood insurance premiums in unaffected areas like our own Ideal Beach,” Murray said.
Officials and members of the public have been critical of the Biggert-Waters Insurance Reform Act, which threatens rate hikes for residents unaffected by Sandy.
“While recovery is not complete, it is underway and we will see it through,” Murray said.
The mayor also said that Middletown continues to embrace technology, developing a mobile phone app, working to post municipal code on the township website, and completing the digitization of records.
Murray also took time to recognize Middletown’s spirit of giving, as she noted the township has one of the largest volunteer forces anywhere.
“Our founders knew something that we know today—separate we are limited, but together we are limitless,” Murray said, recognizing the township’s hundreds of volunteers ranging from firefighters to those who serve on township boards.
Scharfenberger, now sitting as a regular committee member, offered his congratulations to the new mayor and deputy. He said officials have “a lot on our plate” for the coming year.
“We have a great team up here, as you can probably tell, and I think we’re going to do some great things this year,” Scharfenberger said.
The new year marks the 350th anniversary of Middletown’s founding, which Murray recognized in her remarks. Commemorations and events are ongoing as the township celebrates its history.“Together as one, we move forward into our 350th year without compromising the integrity of the things we value as we create our own legacy,” Murray said.