Mayor's Annual Message

File Jan 09, 10 20 49 AM


Welcome to the Friends of the Drew Forest

Thank you to Rabbi Mindy Lubin, for the invocation. The honor guard of the Madison Police Department. And thank you to the Madison Harding Girls Scout Troop for leading us in the pledge and big thank you to Abby Teagan for singing the National Anthem. 

Welcome to all of you attending in person and watching from home. A special welcome to Maureen’s family. We all know that serving on the Council is not a personal commitment, it is a family commitment. So thank you for sharing Maureen for the last six years. And welcome to Rachel and Tom’s families, and your commitment. Rachel, welcome to your second term and Tom, thank you for taking your commitment to Madison to a higher level,

I want to thank Governor Phil Murphy and Congresswoman Mikie Sherril for their video messages. Special thanks to our legislative team, our State Senator Governor Dick Codey and Assemblyman John McKeon for joining us today. And a big thank you for representing us so well over the past 12 years, which covers all my years as mayor. You have been so helpful over this with every issue that needed help from Trenton. 

Many of us have been bragging about Madison being the number one place to live in New Jersey ever since we were given that recognition by New Jersey Monthly. We do it talking about the downtown, our schools, the train line, neighborhoods, and the universities. All great things, none of which make us unique. As I prepared the Mayor’s Legacy Hero Awards for Mayor Woody Kerkeslager and Cathie Coultas, it hit me what makes Madison so special, it is the legacy of those who came before us.

Just think of a few of our legacy heroes. Please note that this is a partial list and I apologize in advance for those I missed.  

  • The community leaders who in 1873 established the Madison YMCA. The Y will celebrate 150 years in 2023. From Madison’s first library to teaching generations how to swim the list of programs is too long to cover. But I need  to mention that it gave a troubled teen named Bob Conley direction so many years ago.
  • In 1890 it was Mayor Albright and Madison’s Council whose first action for the newly incorporated town was to establish our water and electric utilities. Providing reliable water and power while reinvesting the profits back into Madison. 133 years later it is still literally paying dividends.
  • The Thursday Morning Club which just celebrated 125 years after being founded in 1896. They created Dodge Field, the first morning kindergarten, the Settlement House (now Community House), programs that led to the creation of the Health Department and so many other programs serving Madison. 
  • Willis James, donating our first library building, now the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts. All while constructing two buildings that define our downtown
  • In 1923 a group of businessmen, including Cathie Coultas’ grandfather founded the Madison Rotary Club. This year they celebrate 100 years of putting service above self, including supporting local charities and recently leading a community needs assessment.
  • In 1970 long before COAH and Mt. Laurel, Madison established the Madison Housing Authority through the leadership of Rexford Tucker and others, who  realized that affordable housing was a challenge for many in Madison. For over 50 years, Madison has been the leader in suburban New Jersey with providing housing and preserving economic diversity in our community
  • In recent years I recognized others with Mayor’s Legacy Hero awards
    • The late Carmine Toto, “Mr. Christmas”. His legacy is far more than the holiday season, but families flock to Madison in December to see the wonder of the holidays, the wonder of Carmine Toto. Carmine’s legacy is alive and well through his family and friends.
    • Mayor Gary Ruckelshaus and Rich Romano for the work they did in restoring our treasured train station

These are just a few of the legacies that really make Madison the special place it is. We don’t know who and what the legacies of tomorrow will be, but here are a few in the works:

  • Friends of Drew, who entertained us earlier and are doing incredible work to save the sanctuary that is the Drew Forest. Working together with Madison, the Morris County Commissioners, Green Acres and Drew University, they will make saving the forest a reality
  • The work of our Climate Action Committee, Environmental Commission and Sustainable Madison working to make the world around us better not only for today, but for future generations.
  • One of Madison’s newest non-profits, having moved here after 22 years in Morristown, Wind Of The Spirit, working with today’s immigrants much like the Thursday Morning Club did 100 years ago.
  • The 100% affordable housing development to be built on Walnut and Community. The first passive construction affordable housing development in the state, supported by a $2 million federal grant made possible by Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill’s work. This will set the tone for future projects throughout the state and country

These are just a few examples of what makes Madison the best. Everyday there are those who step forward, not necessarily to leave a legacy but to make a difference.   

So for 2023, let us continue to make Madison the special place it is, each being a part of creating a legacy for those who will follow.

Happy and Healthy New Year for all.