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2019 Acceptance Speech by Mayor Anna Columbus

Good Evening and Welcome. 

I so humbly accept the position of Mayor of Branchburg for the year 2019.  Being the Mayor of 14,556 residents is a commitment that I take very seriously.

I thank all of you who had the confidence to vote for me.  To quote Sally Field in her Academy Award Acceptance Speech for the movie “Places in the Heart” in 1984, “You Like Me – You Really Like Me”, thank you.

I would like to acknowledge some people in attendance: Senator Kip Bateman; my brother, Sheriff Frank Provenzano; Freeholder Patricia Walsh; former Freeholder Mark Caliguire; former Assemblywoman Donna Simon; former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli; Somerset County Republican Chair Al Gaburo; Branchburg Republican County Chair Marty Herrman; Mayor Carol Bianchi of Basking Ridge; Chief David Young of the Branchburg Police Department; my campaign manager, Anthony Attanasio; Janice Fields, State Committeewoman; and Kathy Callahan, President of the Somerset County Federation of Republican Women.  If I missed anyone, I do apologize.

My family members are my rocks and Tom, you are my sounding board.  I love you all.

My philosophy is, if you surround yourself with good people, good things happen.

Thank you to the Township Committee for the ability to discuss issues and to come to a conclusion that will benefit all of Branchburg.  I am looking forward to working with all of you again this year.

I want to thank the people who keep us safe – Chief David Young and the entire Branchburg Police Department, the firemen from the three towns that support us along with the EMS and CERT teams who sometimes have to jump out of a warm bed to fight an emergency.  Thanks to Bill and Monita (Haduch), who report the Branchburg News, in good order once a month.  Maggie, my Clerk and Greg, the Administrator, thank you very much you have answered all my questions all year long.  Thank you Bill (Willard), you’ve been there for me all the time and thank you to the best workforce in the State.

A special thank you to all those who volunteer to serve on our boards.  You take the time out of your busy schedules for the benefit of the town.  This year, we had an outstanding response to our call for volunteers and actually have a waiting list for the Boards and Committees which says something for the people coming together in Branchburg.

A few things I would like to accomplish this year – The outside of the Station House in Neshanic Station looks good, the inside is in shambles.  One of my goals is to put the Station House back in good order.  We have received some bids and soon will choose a contractor.  When finished, we will have an Open House to show it off.

Our parks need a few more activities for the children.  We have a portable ice rink that will soon be constructed with very shallow water near the Snack Shack.  The Snack Shack will be open on certain occasions to sell hot drinks and other snacks.  If it does well, we may put in an ice hockey rink.  One of the parks will get a sandbox similar to one we have seen in Princeton.  Our children will love it.

Since the Country Fair is so successful, thanks to Bob Bouwman and his team, I am thinking about having a food truck festival in the spring.  I think that this will boost morale for the town.

The completion of the walking path on Elm Street is going to keep us all in shape. We partnered with the Freeholders and acquired the property.  Thank you to our Somerset County Freeholders for joining in on this project.

The railroad bridge on River Road – discussions have taken place as to what we can do.  How do we put in a new bridge?  Can we negotiate for a new bridge?  We will have to work with the State and County; this is a priority to at least start.  Those of you who travel that way will see the new signs.  Hopefully the tractor trailer drivers will see the signs and not try to go over the bridge.

I would like to see a property maintenance ordinance to keep properties maintained. 

Preserving open space is crucial to me.  We are being targeted to develop since we have such beautiful land.  We must not allow overdevelopment.  However, as Jim said, some is inevitable.

The Dog Park – we are looking for a suitable space and will partner with the Branchburg Rotary Club to make this happen.  This space must not interfere with the quality of life of our residents.

Coffee with the Mayor will continue on Saturday, January 12th from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.  Bring your ideas/complaints and let’s talk.

In closing, I would like to say, thank you for believing in me.  Have a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year and we will reconvene the meeting at the Stoney Brook Grille, for all those who would like to attend.

Thank you very much.